Do Nurses Take an Oath?

nurse taking oath to do no harm

While it is every nurse’s sacred duty to care for each patient to the best of his or her ability, you may be wondering if nurses make any oaths to this effect.

In addition, are any promises that are made legally binding?

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Do Nurses Take an Oath?

Nurses do not make any legally binding promises, nor do they take the Hippocratic Oath as doctors do. However, they may recite the Florence Nightingale Pledge at a nurse pinning ceremony. Plus, state and federal laws ensure nurses provide safe and effective care to all patients.

Are Nurses Bound to Any Promises After Graduation?

The graduating nurse is not bound to any promises even if he or she does make a pledge. There is actually no Hippocratic Oath for nurses because this promise is only made by doctors.

However, many nursing schools use the Florence Nightingale Pledge at their pinning ceremonies, which are performed at the completion of the student’s nursing studies.

While my college chose to use this pledge, not all schools do. It is not a legal requirement, nor is the nurse legally required to uphold this pledge.

It is mainly meant to guide your moral choices as you work as a nurse.

Of course, you will also find that the legal requirements put into place by the Board of Nursing of your state and other governing bodies do follow the general ideas listed in the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

What Is the Hippocratic Oath?

This is the Hippocratic Oath.

The Hippocratic Oath is meant to guide a physician’s ethical choices. Originally written in Greek and traditionally traced back to a physician known as Hippocrates who lived from 460 to 370 BC, this oath has been used for millennia. The oldest existing version dates back over a thousand years.

Today, the oath has been updated to secularize it.

It includes several major concepts, including respecting past doctors, helping future doctors, protecting patient privacy, working to prevent disease and treating each patient as an individual deserving of respect.

However, as of 2017, fewer than 40% of physicians younger than 34 had taken this oath.

What Is the Florence Nightingale Pledge?

This is the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

The Florence Nightingale Pledge is actually based on the Hippocratic oath and was written by a nurse specifically for nurses. Known as the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale famously served as a nurse for soldiers during the Crimean War before opening a nursing school in London in 1860.

Despite its name, the Florence Nightingale Pledge was not actually written by Nightingale but was penned by Lystra Gretter in 1893 and named in Nightingale’s honor.

The Florence Nightingale Pledge is a basic statement of ethics covering a faithful nursing practice, adherence to nursing ethics, cooperation with other health care team members, and a promise not to do anything harmful for the patient.

However, this pledge is also not legally binding.

What Guidelines Direct a Nurse?

If nurses do not make any legally binding promises before beginning their careers, you may be wondering what ensures they do the right things for their patients.

The vast majority of nurses are guided by their own personal beliefs and morals to make ethical decisions in their practices. In addition, each state has a nurse practice act (NPA) that governs nursing activities.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading. Hopefully, you found this article informative. Do me a favor. In the comments below, let us know if you took the Florence Nightingale Pledge when you graduated from nursing school.

If you’re not a nurse and would like to become a nurse you can go here to apply to nursing schools. Otherwise, you can keep browsing our site to learn more about the world of nursing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions related to if nurses take an oath to do no harm.

  1. Do nurses take an oath like doctors do?

    Many nurses will take the Florence Nightingale Pledge similar to how many doctors will take the Hippocratic Oath.

  2. Do nurses take the Hippocratic Oath?

    Nurses do not take the Hippocratic Oath like physicians do. Instead many nurses will take the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

  3. Do nurses take an oath to do no harm?

    Some but not all nurses will take the Florence Nightingale Pledge. Nurses do not take the Hippocratic Oath.

  4. Do RN’s take an oath?

    RN’s do not take the Hippocratic Oath. Instead, many nursing schools will have RN graduates take the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

  5. Who wrote the Florence Nightingale Pledge?

    Lystra Gretter wrote the Nightingale Pledge in 1893. It was named after Nightingale in her honor.

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