The Nightingale Pledge

The Nightingale Pledge*, originally created in 1893 by a committee under the chairmanship of Lystra Gretter, is traditionally cited by nursing graduates during honours or pinning ceremonies.

The Nurses' Pledge accompanies the candle lighting segment of the ceremony.

Florence Nightingale, an English nurse and pioneer reformer, was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12 1820 and died on August 13 1910. Many modern nursing techniques can be traced back to her.

During the Crimean War Florence took 38 women to Turkey to nurse sick and wounded British soldiers. The British government had never before permitted women to do this.

Because of her selfless duty during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale became known as the "lady with the lamp".

As a tribute to her the lamp icon became symbolic of nursing. The lamp will always shine brightly as a symbol of the care and devotion a nurse administers to the sick and injured in the practice of nursing.

As a result nursing students honour the dedication of Nurse Nightingale and symbolically plan to carry the ideals for which she stood in the candle lighting portion of the pinning ceremony. The tradition of candle lighting and pledge recognises her ideals:

lSolemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to practice my profession of nursing. I will do all in my power to make and maintain the highest standards and practices of my profession.

lI will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping in the practice of my calling. I will assist the physician in his work and will devote myself to the welfare of my patients, my family, and my community.

lI will endeavour to fulfil my rights and privileges as a good citizen and take my share of responsibility in promoting the health and welfare of the community.

lI will constantly endeavour to increase my knowledge and skills in nursing and to use them wisely. I will zealously seek to nurse those who are ill wherever they may be and whenever they are in need;

lI will be active in assisting others in safeguarding and promoting the health and happiness of mankind.