Nursing program: rich with traditions

Nurse Group
From the podium, Bob Duval, chaplain with Gwinnett Medical Center, presides over the dedication of hands portion of the charter nursing class dedication ceremony, held at the beginning of fall semester.

Unlike other college degree programs, nursing has a decades-long heritage of rich and meaningful traditions and symbolism.

“Because of the need for caring for the sick and injured, nursing has both religious and military roots, so many of nursing’s traditions grew from there,” said Sharon Grason, PhD(c), RN, director of the nursing program. “We even refer to work as being ‘in the trenches.’”

Traditions create a close bond between nursing students and their faculty, building relationships that grow beyond the classroom and into the workplace. Nurses share a camaraderie that sustains the teamwork, determination and perspective needed to work in situations frequently dealing with life and death. The profession’s traditions and symbols reflect this sense of purpose and spirit.

Program Seal

Each nursing school or program has its own unique seal, which is used on all official materials related to that program. GGC’s nursing program seal contains a significant nursing symbol – the lamp of knowledge. The design names the college and School of Health Sciences, and includes the acronym, BSN, to represent the bachelor’s degree in nursing. It also notes that the program was established in 2013. The seal uses Georgia Gwinnett’s school colors of green and gray.

Dr. Susan Walsh's Demonstration
Dr. Susan Walsh, associate professor of nursing (center), demonstrates for a student how much pressure is needed to feel a pulse.

The Lamp of Knowledge

The most cherished symbol of nursing is the lamp, which represents Florence Nightingale caring for battle-injured patients by lamplight during the Crimean War in the mid-1850s. Considered the founder of modern nursing, “The Lady with the Lamp,” is remembered through the celebration of International Nurses Day on her birthday. The service pledge taken by nurses is based on the original Nightingale Pledge.

The nursing lamp resembles what most people would recognize as a “genie” lamp and burns oil. While different nursing programs alter the lamp’s look slightly, it is always pictured with a flame – the flame of eternal knowledge. With the flame, the lamp becomes “the lamp of knowledge.”

The GGC lamp of knowledge is stylized, representing the college’s modernity.


Nursing students wear white, as the color is symbolic of nursing. GGC’s uniforms will display the program’s seal as a patch sewn onto the left sleeve. A patch is shown at GGC’s nursing program of choice.

Caring Hands

Hands are another important symbol representing how nurses provide care. Nurses often participate in ceremonies that bless or dedicate hands.

New nursing students at Georgia Gwinnett are welcomed by a ceremony that includes a dedication of hands. The ceremony also includes the pinning of the students’ name badges on their uniforms, symbolizing their entry into the nursing program.

Graduate Composite Portraits

Nursing schools and programs recognize each graduating class by displaying large framed collections of graduate portraits. These composite pieces hang permanently within the school, to celebrate the program and the many nurses trained there.

GGC Nurse Pin
The GGC nursing pin is a meaningful symbol graduates will wear their entire careers.
“Usually, these composites are only done to recognize students upon completion of the program, but our charter year classes – those entering the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015 – will be honored with special composites,” Grason said.

Pinning Ceremony

Also upon graduation, nursing students are honored through a ceremony during which they receive a lamp and a candle and their nursing pin. Similar to the seal, the GGC pin is oval and also incorporates a pair of hands.

“On our pin, two caring hands hold up the lamp of knowledge to others, symbolizing our students’ responsibility to carry the lamp and pass on the knowledge,” said Grason.

Nurses usually wear their pins for the rest of their careers, no matter where they work, as a reminder of where they received their training and of all proud nursing traditions.

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