NRTC student-nurses mark halfway point with tradition-rich capping ceremony

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Julie Courtney-Bradley, seated, receives her cap from nursing director Linda Douglas. (Photo by Gabe Franklin/Daily Mail)

Fifteen students from Nevada Regional Technical Center's Practical Nursing class No. 53 celebrated a milestone achievement Friday evening with a capping ceremony at the Ella Maxwell Performing Arts Center.

"Capping is symbolic of the end of basic nursing education and the beginning of more advanced training, including extending education to the patient bedside," said NRTC Nursing Director Linda Douglas. "We started the semester with 24 students; these remaining 15 have worked hard to pass their first semester courses and are very deserving to continue into the clinical area."

The capping ceremony marks the halfway point of the 10-month program. The first half consists of studying life cycles, anatomy and physiology, fundamental skills in nursing, personal and vocational concepts, IV Therapy, geriatric nursing care, math for medication administration, and introductory medical/surgical nursing.

The second half of the course includes hands-on clinical experiences and coursework on advanced personal and professional concepts, advanced fundamental nursing skills, maternity nursing, pediatric nursing, mental health nursing, and advanced medical/surgical nursing.

"At the completion of this 10-month program, students are qualified to petition the State Board of Nursing to take a national licensure examination, culminating with a Licensed Practical Nursing degree," Douglas said.

"In the local area, LPN's work in various fields, including: hospitals, nursing homes, home health, private homes, schools, and physician clinics. The salary of an LPN ranges from $10 an hour to over $20 per hour. NRTC school of practical nursing starts in August of each year with applications available beginning in January."

Following Douglas' introductions, class president David Peters spoke on the history of the nurse's cap.

"Florence Nightingale herself never wore the nursing cap as we know them, though her hair was always covered in the tradition of her raising," Peters said.

Class president David Peters (right) and Courtnie Warren (left) light their Lamp of Learning held by Linda Douglas, RN, nursing director (center). (Photo by Gabe Franklin/Daily Mail)

"At the time in which she organized the first generation of professional nurses to descend upon the Crimean War in 1854, this tradition was already out of style and controversial.

"As one of her pioneering students complained, 'I came out ma'am, prepared to submit everything, but there are some things ma'am, one can not submit to. If I had known about the caps, I would not have come.'

"It is not known why Florence required her students to wear caps, it may have been for hygienic purposes, as was the reason it was adopted 20 years later in the Connecticut School of Nursing, or if it was a symbol of professionalism, as nursing rose from its disrepute as an occupation suitable only for homeless or fallen women, or if Florence Nightingale was simply carrying on a religious and cultural tradition which she had observed (her entire life).

"It's just not known. Whatever the reason, the cap will live forever, both as a professional uniform in the workplace and as a symbol of higher learning, unique in every school. It has changed shape and material over the years and now its use has declined over time in the workplace as shorter hair styles became more prevalent and the pragmatism of wearing a cap fell away leaving only the symbolism behind.

"What has never changed since the cap's very inception, what drives us to stand here today despite gender or controversy, is that the cap has always been earned. It is no symbol of desire given on admission. We do not buy it with tuition guaranteed to us for a nominal fee.

"Each person who wears it has known onally, someone who has set out to earn this honor and tragically not succeeded.

As we solemnly take our vows of professionalism and ethical behavior, as our instructors place our caps upon us as theirs did for them, we know that the 15 of us stand with over 160 years of nurses who have travelled far, studied late, woke early, met in crowded classrooms, and sacrificed months of their lives to ensure their readiness to care for someone in our community in their time of need.

"Today, we are honored to stand before our teachers who have invested so much of themselves in our understanding ---- so many from our families and communities who have uplifted and supported us, to be declared fit to study and serve in the hallowed halls of hospitals and to put into practice the knowledge which we have worked so hard to make our own. The value of this moment to us cannot be overstated. Thank you Mrs. Douglas, Mrs. Leer, and Mrs. Dunlap and all of those who have helped us to this day."

Photos by Gabe Franklin/Daily Mail Nevada Regional Technical Center practical nursing class students reached the halfway point of NRTC's 10-month program, which was marked by a symbolic capping ceremony. Pictured front row, from left: Cheryl Dillon, Maddy Crawford, Julie Bradley, Cheyenne Baney, Megan Baldwin, Audrey Hart and David Peters. Back row: Courtnie Warren, Emily Walker, Kendra Myers, Rachel McWilliams, Adrienne Lucas, Kaley Keating, Nathan Bagnall. (Photo by Gabe Franklin/Daily Mail)

One by one, each student came forward as Douglas pinned their cap upon their head. The gentlemen received a lapel pin. Following the capping ceremony, each student again came forward to light their Lamp of Knowledge from Douglas'.

"This Lamp of Knowledge represents the oil lamp Florence Nightingale used to check on her patients," Douglas noted during the ceremony. "Florence was the first nursing theorist who taught these simple principles: cleanliness, fresh air, good food, rest, sleep and exercise. These are the same principles taught today to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

"As these nursing students light their lamps, it represents the commitment (they've) made to obtain the greatest knowledge possible in order that they may provide quality and compassionate care."

The Practical Nursing Program was founded in 1963 as a joint venture by the federal Manpower Development and Training Act and the Nevada R-5 School District.

In 1973, the Practical Nursing Program became part of what is now called the Nevada Regional Technical Center.

The fully accredited, 1,457 hour program has been approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

According to the program brochure, graduation requirements for the Practical Nursing Program are rigorous and include maintaining at least 95 percent attendance, 80 percent average in academic performance, 85 percent in clinical performance, 90 percent in skills competencies, a score of 90 percent or better on a math proficiency exam and "perform all functional abilities required for practical nursing."

NRTC Practical Nursing class No. 53 is set to graduate June 9, 2017.

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