A Florence Nightingale-inspired rite-of-passage nursing ceremony, which formally welcomes students to the nursing profession, lit up the University of Alberta campus on Monday night.


The U of A’s inaugural Lighting of the Lamp ceremony, the first of its kind in Canada, saw 350 first-year nursing students fill Arts and Convocation Hall to start the process of forming bonds and be made aware of the significance of the commitment they are making to themselves, their colleagues and to the values and ideals of nursing.

“Students and faculty alike told us that they yearned for our students to have a stronger sense of identity as U of A nursing students and also a greater sense of community and connection to each other, our nursing history and the profession of nursing,” said Sandra Davidson, associate dean in the Faculty of Nursing. “The lighting of the lamp ceremony is just one of the initiatives we are implementing to enhance the student experience and create connections.”

During the ceremony, students raised their lanterns and recited a modern version of Nightingale’s Pledge. They took their first step future nurses by pledging do their best to deliver good quality of care to all their patients, and to devote themselves to the welfare of those committed to their care.

The lamp is an international symbol of nursing, which represents a lit lamp used by of Florence Nightingale, widely considered the founder of modern nursing, while caring for injured soldiers during the Crimean war.

Aaron Louette, president of the Nursing Undergraduate Association, welcomed the new crop of nurses with a heartfelt speech that touched on his experiences and how, ultimately, by helping others, he was able to find himself.


“Connections will shape your experience as an undergraduate nursing student,” he said. “Connections with others have created opportunities to find meaning in my life for me. These connections have been particularly profound with people who face multiple inequities and injustices in their community.

“Nursing has allowed me to create these connections with others through collaboration and camaraderie; connections that help to build community.”

The ceremony, which has been a year-and-a-half in the making, helped the Faculty of Nursing kick off a year long-celebration of 100 years of nursing education in 2018, which has been dubbed Preparing Leaders Who Make a Difference.

Author: Michael Brown