McMaster University

McMaster University

Nursing students make solemn pledge

By: Guylaine Spencer
Published: Apr. 12, 2016

— Photographs by Martin Wissenz

Spring is a time of new beginnings.  In the first week of this spring season, first-year students at McMaster University took part in Professionalism Pledge ceremony to mark the symbolic start of their new lives as future nurses. The Professional Pledge Ceremony was designed in 2011 by professors at McMaster and it is the only one of its kind in Ontario nursing schools.

On the 4th of April, one hundred and thirty-five students gathered in the historic and atmospheric Convocation Hall to hear inspirational presentations about their future profession and to recite and sign a pledge.  

The one-hour ceremony began with an address from Master of Ceremonies Tracey Jewiss, a professor in the School of Nursing, who described the event as “an opportunity to make a commitment to professionalism and the values and behaviours that embody professional nursing practice.” She then introduced various guest speakers.

Dr. Carolyn Byrne, the Associate Dean of the McMaster School of Nursing, spoke about the values of professionalism in the nursing context, including knowledge, integrity and caring. She welcomed the students into a special community and told them: “You’re joining us in our mission of always remaining professional.” 

Dr. Pamela Baxter, Assistant Dean, spoke of the link between professionalism in the classroom and academic integrity and professionalism in the workplace.  She called upon students to strive to display transparency, honesty and responsibility. “What you do now in the classroom will one day show up in your professional practice and will have an impact on your patient,” she said. Professionalism is not something you put on and take off. It’s much deeper and personal. “It’s about who you are when no one is looking,” Baxter stressed.

Laurel Nash spoke next. Nash is a graduate of the BScN program and works as a Registered Nurse at McMaster Hospital on the pediatric hematology oncology unit. She spoke of the challenges and rewards of working with children and their families and how the professional values developed during her education come into play on a daily basis.

Evan Sheppard, a fourth year student, addressed the crowd and talked about his work as co-president of MacSOC for the past two years. He spoke about the importance of retaining professional nursing values of concern for the vulnerable, not just in the workplace but in the larger community as well.  Sheppard is looking forward to working as a Registered Nurse in a small community hospital on Manitoulin Island.

Jewiss introduced a group of students who belong to the Level 1 Student Advisory Committee. They presented a lively slide show with photographs of first year students both in and out of the classroom. The pictures garnered many memorable moments from the audience.

The highlight of the ceremony arrived as students stood together and recited a solemn pledge to uphold the values and standards of their profession. They then signed their own pledge and co-signed their neighbours’ pledges as witnesses to the event.

Text of Nursing Pledge:

This pledge represents my entry into the nursing profession and my lifelong commitment to uphold the values and standards of the profession. As a reflective practitioner, the registered nurse demonstrates confidence, integrity, optimism, passion, and empathy, in accordance with professional standards, guidelines and codes of ethics. I agree to demonstrate the professional behaviours reflective of a learner committed to developing myself as a professional nurse within all learning environments and the global community.

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