After a decidedly ugly week on many fronts, I am happy to announce that I’m ending it on a very high note. While I wasn’t expecting to be able to get my rapid results for my Nursing Board Examination (NCLEX) until Monday or even Tuesday, they released this afternoon, and I have (unofficially) become a Registered Nurse.
The nursing cap is no longer worn for sanitary reasons. It also became problematic when men really started entering the field. I wish we still wore them for graduations, pinnings, etc. I’m the kind of person who appreciates a physical representation of accomplishment. I grew up on Cherry Ames novels and wanted my cape and cap. Fortunately for me, the history of the cap is that it’s hand made anyway, so I can make one for my own pleasure. I’ll probably never wear the darned thing, but I want it anyway.
There’s no one standard for nursing caps, but there is a fairly pervasive tradition that only registered nurses wear a single wide black velvet ribbon band on their caps. Tradition says it is a show of mourning for Florence Nightingale. It varied from school to school, but that element is pretty common. It was a symbol of achievement, of respect, and of responsibility. Nursing students got their caps early on in their schooling, but that wide black band was the culmination of all of their efforts.
There will be more stripes to earn, metaphorically speaking, once I’m in a patient care role and learn all the things about nursing they don’t teach you in school. That doesn’t make THIS stripe any less meaningful.