14:03 PM

Graduating Nurses Receive a Blessing of the Hands

Dressed in red, the graduating class of nurses pose for a group photo.

University of St. Thomas Peavy School of Nursing will celebrate National Nurses’ Week, May 6-12, with the Blessing of the Hands ceremony for graduating nurses.

The Blessing of the Hands is a health care tradition practiced around the world, possibly initiated by Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 ‒ August 13, 1910), considered the founder of modern nursing. National Nurses’ Week begins each year on May 6 and ends May 12, Nightingale’s birthday.

History of the Ceremony

The University of St. Thomas initiated this affirming ceremony last year for its graduating nursing students during Nurses' Week. The ceremony will be held this year on Monday, May 6. The blessing comes from a Christian tradition but holds meaning for caregivers of all faith traditions.

“Because human touch is such an important component of health care, the blessing is especially meaningful for our graduating nursing students,” Dr. Poldi Tschirch, dean, Peavy School of Nursing, said. “As nursing is a ‘Sacred Vocation,’ it provides a spiritual experience, symbolically linking the art and science of health care. Those who participate reflect upon the interconnectedness of their own humanity and the privilege to provide holistic care to those they serve.”

The Ceremony encourages participants to consider the importance of finding balance between presence and healing. Furthermore, they consider the provision of care that occurs within a complex and technology-driven health care delivery system.

In addition, the Blessing of the Hands Ceremony provides University leadership and faculty the opportunity to engage in an interconnected process that recognizes the nurse as an instrument of healing and affirms our commitment to the University’s Core Values: Goodness, Knowledge, Discipline, and Community.

UST’s School of Nursing will graduate 30 nursing students this year. The Ceremony will be held in the atrium of the Center for Science and Health Professions, 4110 Yoakum Blvd. at 11:30 a.m.

University of St. Thomas’ Peavy School of Nursing Program was re-established in 2012 to address the growing shortage of nurses nationwide. The School of Nursing offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.

“May Your Hands Bring Comfort and Healing To Those They Touch,

To the Honor and Glory of God.”

Background info on Florence Nightingale and Blessing of the Hands Origin

The Blessing of the Hands possibly was initiated by Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 ‒ August 13, 1910), a 19th Century nurse considered the founder of modern nursing.

Nightingale, known as “the lady with the lamp” visited the wards of a British base hospital caring for patients, most wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War. Her lamp served as a symbol of hope, strength and healing to all her patients. Many credit Nightingale for establishing a school of nursing, pioneering the use of quality improvement metrics in health care, and assisting hospitals of the time transform into safer and cleaner facilities; reducing mortality rates by two-thirds. Her writings ignited worldwide health care reform.

National Nurses’ Week begins each year on May 6 and ends May 12, Nightingale's birthday. While the first Nurses Week was celebrated in 1954 – the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s mission to the Crimea – it was not until President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation in 1982 that May 6 would henceforth be National Nurses’ Day. In 1990, the American Nurses Association (ANA) expanded the day-long observance into a week-long celebration of nurses.