Like many who choose to enter the field, the students in the Lee College nursing program pursue the career for a variety of often personal reasons: to follow a family tradition, for example, or to provide others the expert level of care and comfort they once received from a great nurse.
Those dreams will be realized at 7 p.m., Friday, May 9, during the annual nursing program pinning ceremony to be held in the college Sports Arena. Approximately 61 graduate candidates will participate this year, said program director Tracy Allen.
“The purpose is to welcome these new graduates into the profession,” said Allen, a Lee College alumna and nurse practitioner who has been in the field for 20 years. “It brings together a lot of emotions. For the students, it marks the culmination of their academic journey, and a time to reflect on the work they’ve done and sacrifices they’ve made.”
The rigorous Lee College nursing program emphasizes practical experience that prepares students for the realities of a clinical setting. From their first semester, students are required to spend time in both traditional classes and the laboratory and hands-on clinical environment. They also complete rotations in the college’s state-of-the-art Simulation Center, a replica of a hospital setting complete with high-fidelity mannequins that breathe, sweat, bleed and even give birth.
“This is not just a degree or a series of classes; this is a professional school,” Allen said. “By the time our students reach the end of the program, they’re doing rotations in hospital critical care and intensive care units. We want them to be successful and we encourage them to be lifelong learners.”
At the pinning ceremony, nursing graduates will receive a special pin signifying their participation in the Lee College program. They will also recite the Florence Nightingale Pledge, an oath named for the founder of modern nursing and taken by all professional nurses.
Faculty members will recognize students who have demonstrated high academic achievement and clinical excellence throughout the two-year program, and lead graduates in a sacred lamp-lighting ceremony that symbolizes the passage of knowledge from one generation of nurses to the next.
“I think for all nursing professionals, the pinning ceremony is a pivotal place,” Allen said. “As faculty, we have the opportunity to interact with students on many levels as they complete the program. You see their struggles and you know their lives. It’s wonderful to watch them grow.”