Nurses Symbols- Top 12 Nursing Symbols

Nurses symbols are almost everywhere in our surroundings. And sadly, these all are ignored most of the time. These nurses symbols are in different forms, like; nursing pins, scrub tops, medical jewelry, badge holders, and pens.

Most of these nurses symbols, like the oil lamp, are even used on different occasions. Despite this, most of us need to understand why these symbols are used that way.

We just know these symbols represent nursing. But unluckily, we are unaware of their objectives. Moreover, we are also unaware of the origin of these things.

In this article, our expert team of the best nurse will give you a detailed description of nurses symbols.

What Is Meant By A Nurses Symbols?

In a nutshell, these nurses symbols are those objects that provide us with detailed information about the nursing field, especially when it comes to its history, origin, meaning, and transition that has taken place in this field.

Different Nurses Symbols:

The different type of nursing symbols is explained below.

1.     The Caduceus

Nurses symbols

Amongst these nurses symbols, The Caduceus is well-known to most of us. This symbol consists of two serpents being wrapped around a staff.

In addition, there are two wings on top of them. This symbol might be easily seen on medical dresses, equipment, and other medicine-related things.

The Caduceus symbol is linked with ancient thought, especially the God Hermes. Similar to this, many other nurses symbols have also been founded in old India and the East during the early human civilizations.

Anyhow, the Caduceus symbol was not meant to represent medicine.

Another nursing symbol, similar to the Caduceus, is the Rod of Asclepius, which also belongs to the Ancient Greeks.

This nurse symbol is also related to medicine. These two symbols, the Caduceus and the Rod of Asclepius, are very similar.

The difference is that the Caduceus symbol has two serpents and wings surmounting them. At the same time, the Rod of Asclepius has one serpent with no wings.

A few scholars considered it believe that this symbol depicts the feature of healing by keeping parasitic worms out of the body with the help of Rod of Asclepius. It is being practiced to date.

The Caduceus became drastically popular when the U.S. Army Medical Corps adopted it in 1902.

After that, many commercial health organizations adopted the Caduceus and left the Rod of Asclepius.

However, professional medical organizations remained with the Rod of Asclepius. As you know, it contains one serpent with the staff having no wings on top.

2.     Rod Of Asclepius Nursing

Nurses symbols

The symbol of Caduceus may be wrongly incorporated with medicine, though it did not appear in a fraction of a second.

The character of the Rod of Asclepius, one serpent with the staff having no wings, expresses the state of life, which depicts the act of healing.

Once again usage of a serpent, the serpent exfoliates its skin, which symbolizes fertility and rebirth. The staff is also known as the God of medicine, sometimes in nursing. Anyhow, it is not only symbolized for nursing at all.

3.     Nursing Uniform

Nurses symbols

The nurse’s uniform was very famous for some time. But now, this idea is being transitioned into more practical and valuable medical scrubs.

The original uniforms were made of a combination of a pinafore apron, a blue dress, and a cap.

In the old days, a standard nursing uniform was associated with a nursing pin that explained a nursing student’s belonging to the school.

Just like the cap, the original idea of a uniform was derived from the customary practices of early Christian nurses.

Earlier, it was considered religious work, but with the lapse of time, this nursing practice got changed into a general occupation.

However, the mode of clothing remained the same. Furthermore, some traditional practices like calling each other ‘sister’ are the same.

Though when the design of that first uniform was made, it got adoption around the globe rapidly.

Sadly, now those old designs are unable to be founded. It is due to their transitioning into more practical and valuable medical clothing.

In contrast, today’s sterile and medical clothing cannot depict the same transition and image of the old ones, like spotless dresses and starched caps.

4.     Nursing Caps

Nurses symbols

The traditional image of a nurse cannot be imagined without its cap. Despite this, their prevalence suffers in some parts of the world.

However, they play a pivotal role in the field of nursing.

When the types of nursing caps are concerned, they were two types, short caps, and long caps.

The short cap was used to cover almost half of the hair. On the other hand, a full cap is used to protect hair fully.

Those caps are usually starched and white. Moreover, they were designed to keep the nurse’s hair intact when she does her duty.

The thought of making caps was initially derived from the Christians, especially Deaconesses. They used white dresses so they could be easily identified as medical staff among other religious groups.

After that, it became mandatory to wear white caps while performing duty. It also overcomes interruption from hair that can create a disturbance, and a nurse’s identification can be made easily.

Even though these caps have many benefits like identification, they also have some risks, like spreading illness in hospitals. As a result, they face declination in the world.

5.     Cap’s Necklace For Nurses

As its name suggests, the Necklace of the cap is associated with the cap. The Necklace is made for the cap’s firm position over the head of the nurse.

In addition, it does not let the cap occur so that she does not bother to readjust it while the nurse does her duty. If this thing happens on duty, she can be distracted.

The presence of the Necklace keeps the cap in its place. It also protects nurses from distracting conditions when the nurse cap falls on the floor.

It is visible to the eyes just like a nurse’s cap and helps a person to identify the medical nurse.

Subsequently, after the introduction of the first Necklace, wearing it along with the cap became mandatory in medicine in almost every corner of the world.

It mitigates the problems that may happen while practicing in medical institutions. Just like caps, necklaces also face downfall nowadays due to the replacement of more advanced scrubs.

6.     The Oil Lamps

Nurses symbols

The oil lamp is less popular than other symbols mentioned above. It is unique from other symbols because it is derived from ancient beginnings.

It is due to its association with one of the most influential figures in the history of nursing, Florence Nightingale.

This symbol is usually used in the pinning ceremonies when newly graduated nurses take the nursing pledge while holding it up in their hands.

This oil lamp symbolizes customary nursing practices by showing selfless work and devotion to nursing. These attributes are inspired by Florence Nightingale’s services rendered in the Crimean War.

The typical duration of this war was about 3 years, from 1853 to 1856.

In this period, miss Florence completely altered this occupation from older women and nuns to a prestigious and vital work.

While caring for the patients, she used to wake up till midnight. Subsequently, this act made her famous as The lady with the lamp.”

Miss Florence didn’t stop there and continued her services after the war with devotion and enthusiasm.

After the war, she established the first school of nursing in the world so that she could educate others to serve humanity.

This nursing symbol is used during the pinning ceremonies to show gratitude and respect for missing Florence’s sacrifices.

7.     Nursing Pins

Nurses symbols

A nursing pin is a type of badge given to the graduates at the pinning ceremonies. This badge represents the nursing school from where they graduated.

As a custom, every graduate is awarded such badges at a pinning ceremony as they are welcomed into the occupation.

Specifically, every pin represents the history and meaning of that nursing program of the concerned nursing institution.

8.     The Maltese Cross

Nurses symbols

The founder of the nursing pins is the Maltese Cross. It was used for maintaining the standards of the hospitals, related to the building of hospitals. It is because it protects from infectious diseases, in his time.

As days passed, the usage of nursing symbols got changed into the family coat of arms. This symbol was awarded to those who rendered extraordinary services.

Such pins were awarded to those nurses who rescued society when an unregulated spreading of disease occurred at its initial stage. Moreover, they recognize them as a professional nurse who is skilled and familiar with medicine-related issues.

At this moment, the nursing pin’s designs have changed with the lapse of time.

In some nursing colleges, the Maltese Cross’s usage has been abandoned and is not used in their pins. Instead of the Maltese Cross, they use their institutional logo.

Despite these changes, this pin has been used with nurses’ uniforms.

It should be noted that every pin is very different in terms of designs and graphics. For example, The ancient oil lamp.

Before kerosene was discovered in the early 20th century, the lightning sources were candles and lamps.

Such ancient lamps can be seen in The Florence Nightingale Museum; though so many changes have taken place, people are now getting away from some of their features.

9.     The Meanings Behind Iconic Nurse Emblems

The history of professional nursing has been discussed, and we have become familiar with that. Now it turns to discuss nurses symbols.

After becoming familiar with some common nursing symbols, we now know about the nursing field and its genesis.

And I feel privileged to be known about the history of such a fantastic field. I hope you find it unique and exciting!

10.  Alchemy And Caduceus

In the seventeenth century, Alchemy symbols were primarily associated with medicine. This is why, in 1902, the Caduceus was adopted by the U.S. Army’s medical department.

Apart from this, in the seventh century, due to the predominance of astrological objects as signs of the heel. Under this fact, the Caduceus, as an alchemist symbol, was also utilized.

The Caduceus Symbols Were Used Mistakenly.

There has been a big problem in the United States for about 115 years. We are misusing this symbol. Indeed, these nurses symbols show wisdom.

But it has no relation to the medical setting. Now, why is it not changed to date? In reality, there is no answer to this query. But now, we are using this symbol to denote registered nurses.

11.  Nursing Stethoscope 

Nurses symbols

It is one of the latest nurses symbols. Joy Behar was not agreed with this symbol. Anyhow, a stethoscope and a nurse work together.

12.  Red Cross Symbol

Nurses symbols

It is believed that the red cross symbol originated from the founder of the American Red Cross Clara Barton. However, this perception needs to be corrected because this symbol was used far back than her first war in 1859.

However, this symbol made it compulsory to wear these medical staff on their scrubs while treating needy ones in a state of war, like the Civil War.

And this idea of miss Clara was never used before. Miss Clara’s idea was to make those medical practitioners easily visible in war.

Understanding Of Nursing Symbols

By analyzing the above symbols, you will be aware of their importance and meaning and learn a bit about the history of those we have seen for years.

Now, whenever you come across any symbol, you may not know what they mean, but you would look at them with a different perspective and a sense of appreciation.

Nurses Symbols Conclusion:

Nurses symbols are essential to know. There are a lot of nursing symbols: red cross symbols, nursing stethoscope, Caduceus, Rod of Asclepius, Nursing uniform, Nursing caps, cap Necklaces for nurses, oil lamps, Nursing pins, and Maltese Cross symbol.

Nurses Symbols Faqs:

What are the symbols of nursing?

There are two symbols looking very similar to each other in the field of nursing:

  • The Oil Lamp
  • The Caduceus.

Each poses its separate identity, objective, and story of origin.

What color should be symbolized in the field of nursing? 

The color white narrates goodness, empowerment, and cleanliness from the beginning.

By keeping this view in mind, its symbolism gives the exact appreciation and regard by wearing the white coat.

Interestingly, for the very first time, the white coat was brought up before a nurse was in the white coat ceremony.

Nursing is represented by which animal?

For Registered Nurses, the Caduceus is famous and known to most of us nowadays.

This symbol comprises two serpents wrapped around a staff and wings on top, easily visible to most medical uniforms and other equipment.

Nursing caps symbolize which things?

As far as the meaning of the nursing cap is concerned, it shows what the goal of a nurse is. That is to provide services to the needy ones.

Additionally, this symbolizes values of faith, wisdom, dedication, and honesty in the profession.

What is the symbolic flower for nurses?


Nurses deserve to be gratified for their work as they are real-life heroes, so they should be thanked by giving them a bouquet.

Specifically, flowers of roses and hydrangeas because they are called to be the flowers of Nurses Week. As these flowers are symbolized gratitude, thankfulness, and admiration.

Why do nurses wear green?

At the beginning of the 19th century, while doing operations, he wore a green scrub instead of the traditional one.

Because he thought it helped him to see clearly and would be gentle on his eyes. As mentioned in an article, issues of Today’s Nurse were published in 1998. Ultimately, Doctors all around the globe switched to green scrubs.

What are two snakes in the medical symbol?

The official symbol of the U.S. Medical Corps, the Public Health Service, and the Navy Pharmacy Division is a staff with two snakes rolled around it, namely the Caduceus.

It is also considered that the Caduceus is the magic wand of Hermes, the massager of the gods in the Roman methodology.

Why do nurses wear green and white?

Before the 20th century, medical clothing or scrubs were white, representing cleanliness.

After that, in the 20th century, it was the idea of a doctor, who was very influential at that time, who proposed that the green color would be beneficial on the eyes of a surgeon, which was mentioned in an article, issue of Today’s Surgical Nurse, in 1998.