The tradition of the nursing pin and the ceremonial pinning originated in the 1860s at the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas' Hospital in London.
The Kahler pin was designed by Lyla M. Olson and presented with diplomas at graduation. It was composed of a cross, caduceus and Florence Nightingale lamp. The cross was a combination of the Pattee and Maltese crosses. The caduceus, a winged rod around which are entwined two serpents, was born by Aesculapius, who was worshiped as the god of medicine by the Greeks. Above the wings of the caduceus is the Nightingale lamp. Prior to 1954, the pin's inscription read "Kahler Hospitals."
The original pin was designed by Lyla M. Olson, who was superintendent of nurses in the Kahler Corporation, and inscribed on the pin was "The Kahler Hospitals, Rochester, Minnesota."
Evelyn Souck ('48) analyzed the Kahler pin as an assignment for a professional adjustment class. This is an excerpt of her work taken from "The Link":
"The Kahler pin is composed of a cross, caduceus and Florence Nightingale lamp. It is fitting that the cross forms the background and main part of the pin. The symbol of the cross has been used for hundreds of years, but it's not known when it was first used. The cross of the Kahler pin is a combination of the Pattee and Maltese crosses.
"The Pattee cross has beautiful and delicate meaning. Its broad arms symbolize the wings of a bird covering her young, thus it intimates the supreme protecting power of those who bear that symbol — those who shield and care for the weak, helpless and needy. The true Maltese cross is the Pattee cross intended to form eight distinctive points; each point is symbolic of one beatitude.
"The caduceus is a wing rod around which are entwined two serpents. The rod represents power, the serpent wisdom, and the wings diligence and activity. It is a Roman lamp, which has come to symbolize good deeds shining through darkness."
In 1954, the pin inscription was changed to "Methodist-Kahler, Rochester, Minn." This is also when the alumni association was changed to the Alumni Association of the Methodist-Kahler School of Nursing, school colors changed from purple and gray to blue and white, and a new alma mater was written.