Symbolism in Nursing

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Symbolism of Nursing Over T
NURS 3101.01: Concepts of Professional Practice

The power of language and dialogue is not always adequate. Our society relies on our ability to process various symbols in our everyday lives. For example, a red stop sign is a symbol where a person’s reaction is easily known even through language barriers. There are many modern and past symbols which are represented in the nursing profession that are recognized by many. The Florence Nightingale lamp is a time honored icon of nursing. Donahue (2011) notes “after the other nurses had retired, she made solitary rounds…these rounds were made with her famous lamp” (p.117). The lamp has remained a symbol of comfort and kindness. Its significance is respected today in nursing graduation pinning ceremonies. The white cap and white uniform were symbols that represented dignity and made nurses easily identifiable. The cap has not been replaced but lost in existence. For instance Riddell (2012) quotes,” Until the 1970’s trained nurses were instantly recognized by their caps” (Riddell, 2012, para 3). Current symbols replacing the nursing uniform may confuse society. Scrub uniforms of all different colors and styles are represented throughout the profession. Therefore, nurses can be mistaken for other staff simply because of their similarities in attire. There are many opinions regarding the essence of nursing, and if it changes over time. Symbols make one wonder if the path of nursing has to do with one’s appearance as a professional. Riddell (2012) states, “to suggest clothing and appearance can imply professionalism, the evidence nevertheless suggests that we have not yet found a successful replacement for the uniform in which the public and patients placed so much trust” (Riddell, 2012, para 6). This quotation suggests the importance of symbols and certain people from society need symbols to connect people or things with signs.

How nursing needs to be symbolized can be...
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