NMU nurses plan for in-person pinning ceremony

Graphic+of+a+nurse+in+a+graduation+cap

Sam Rush/NW

Rayna Sherbinow

At many universities, nursing students are honored with a pinning ceremony prior to graduation. On Friday, April 30, the graduating NMU nurses will conduct their ceremony in person in Jamrich 1100 after much dispute over COVID-19 related concerns.

Due to COVID-19, recent pinning ceremonies at NMU had to take place online. These ceremonies disappointed many students who worked for years to earn recognition. The tradition acknowledges students’ completion of the program and their new status as nurses. Perhaps most importantly, the pinning ceremony provides an opportunity for graduates and their families to celebrate together. It is a meaningful event that some students consider more important than graduation.

This semester, one cohort of NMU nursing students will solve that problem. With the approval of the Executive Council, students are planning an in-person pinning ceremony that adheres to the COVID-19 guidelines.

Sarah Robinson is one of the students responsible for planning the ceremony. 

“Because of COVID-19 and the pandemic, we were told initially that we couldn’t have an in-person ceremony,” Robinson said. 

Robinson reached out to ASNMU President Emma Drever for assistance in drafting a proposal. The nursing students formatted the proposal using a template provided by Drever. 

“We formatted the proposal for the ceremony using the format that the Academic Senate tends to use, which allowed them to consider their team, the recommendations and logistics for the ceremony, the rationale and any associated costs,” Drever said.

The next step was obtaining approval from the NMU Police Department. The students submitted the proposal to NMU’s Chief of Police Mike Bath, who approved and submitted it to the university’s Executive Council. The students were granted permission to proceed with the plan.

“The approval is based on current state epidemic orders and NMU guidelines,” Bath said. “They have a contingency plan to do the event online in the event the state orders or NMU guidelines change that would prevent this event from occurring.”

The upcoming ceremony has been altered to follow COVID-19 guidelines. 

“There are some things that we can’t do,” Robinson said. “Like, we can’t have friends or family at this ceremony.”

In-person attendance will be limited to students and nursing program faculty. The ceremony will be streamed online for anyone unwilling or unable to attend, including nursing students.

“They have the option to attend or not, because we know that some people really have that emotional attachment of like, ‘I really want my grandmother to pin me,’ and we totally understand that,” Robinson said. “But we just can’t do that in person on campus.”

Precautions will be taken during the in-person ceremony to keep those in attendance safe. Students and faculty will be socially distancing at all times, with the exception of the moment students receive their pin from a faculty member. Robinson says all students will wear N95 masks, surgical masks and face shields during the ceremony.

Robinson’s cohort comprises 42 students. Coordinating an event for so many students, plus faculty requires a team effort. Robinson and fellow nursing student, senior Mallory Pittler, coordinated the committee that proposed the ceremony. Pittler’s main responsibility was to facilitate communication among students and faculty, ensuring that everyone was on the same page. Pittler says the committee worked well together and it was not difficult to find volunteers to help organize the event.

“Every semester they do try to have five to ten students help coordinate the pinning ceremony, so that was kind of like a standard,” Pittler said. “However, this semester a lot of people jumped up, so to speak, to help with it because we are very passionate about having our pinning ceremony in person.”

The ceremony is typically held in Jamrich Hall 1100 and usually costs $25 to attend. The fee was waived for the past two semesters because the event was held exclusively online and there was no need to pay for the room or any equipment. The fee has not been reinstated, so as of writing, there will be no charge to attend.

Pittler says the department of nursing has been extremely supportive of her cohort’s proposal. She is grateful for the faculty’s enthusiasm and willingness to participate in the ceremony in such uncertain times.

“I’ve heard from several of the faculty in the nursing department that they do want us to have an in-person pinning ceremony because they do value that it is very important for us nursing students,” Pittler said.

Robinson is also looking forward to the ceremony. Even without friends and relatives in the audience, the event will still be meaningful for students, and for their loved ones watching from home.

“We’ve gone through a lot as a cohort and as a community, that we just wanted this shared experience,” Robinson said.
The pinning ceremony will be held on Friday, April 30 in Jamrich Hall 1100. For more information about NMU’s school of nursing, visit their website.