Power of One
academic year has ended, marking the next exciting and challenging phase
in the lives of our graduates. The 67 baccalaureate nurses in the Class
of 2002 are now headed in 67 different directions. Although they have
begun to scatter, they are forever united by their student experiences
and their Emory nursing pins.
The pinning ceremony is one of nursings most cherished traditions.
But what is the real meaning of the nurses pin? Why is it special?
I believe the real function of the nurses pin is to serve both as
a touchstone and a remindersomething that causes us to step back
and reflect every time we see it, touch it, or think about it. Something
that helps us measure ourselves against the norm that we have set for
ourselves as nursing professionals.
This year, I gave our graduates one last assignment as they were about
to be pinned. I asked them to name their pins for someone who embodies
the nurse they would like to become. The person I think of when I see
my own pin is Vernia Jane Huffman. She was my own dean, and she drove
me nuts when I was a nursing student at the University of Portland.
V.J., as Ive come to know her, is well into her 80s, is almost completely
blind, and continues to be the nurse that I came to know and respect.
One of her most recent projects was starting a support group for elders
who were also losing their sight.
So what was it about V.J. that made me attach her name to my pin? V.J.
was driven by an absolute and unflagging commitment to the provision of
safe, knowledgeable, and competent care of people. As a student and future
nurse, I was very aware that her concern for me was secondary to her commitment
to assuring that patients would be well served by those she prepared to
be nurses. V.J. was rigorous. She didnt let important things fall
off the table, and she valued my potential enough to not let me get away
with anything. Dean Huffman was also a seekersomeone who was never
satisfied with the state of practice and the knowledge that underpinned
it. Her fundamental concern was for the health of others, and she committed
herself (and still does) to finding better ways to improve nursing care
Vernia Jane Huffman is more than a superb nurse. She is a gifted human
being who has the capacity to see the possibilities in others when they
themselves might be blind, the wisdom to give them a chance, and the capacity
to help them prove to themselves and others that they could become more
than they ever believed possible.
I think of her to this day whenever I see my nursing pin. She is my touchstone
for who I am as a nurse and the nurse I have yet to become. As you read
this magazine, youll find many examples of excellence. Perhaps one
of them will be your touchstone.
Marla E. Salmon, ScD,
Dean, Nell Hodgson
Woodruff School of Nursing