Like a badge of membership, custom nurse lapel pins honor registered nurses with unique designs paying homage to a nurse’s role as a dedicated healer and caregiver. In today’s design article, AllAboutPins focuses on helping you find inspiration for designing custom nurse lapel pins.

Getting Started With Custom Nurse Lapel Pins


A gift to registered nurses when they graduate, custom nurse lapel pins are a core part of a nurse’s uniform and one of the profession’s longest-lasting traditions. The pins are often more than just a stylish flair to scrubs, nurse pins are a symbolic welcome to the industry, a representation of their service to patients, and more. While you might get tempted to make them snazzy and fun, don’t forget many custom nurse lapel pins are also meant to be worn as part of a nurse’s standard uniform. In our experience, clients often go for more formal pin designs with a professional look that wouldn’t be out of place in an office environment or corporate award pin.

That said, some care centers are all for giving their nurses a chance to express themselves or have some fun with their nursing pins. So, like any other professional design, be sure to get a sense for the organization these pins represent and how they’d more personally connect with their recipients.

What to Include in Your Custom Nurse Lapel Pin

Whether you’re going for an understated professional design or something a little more fun, what makes a custom nurse pin, well, a nursing pin is how it incorporates the unique images and symbols that make them identify with a registered nurse. Thankfully, as one of the oldest traditions in the nursing profession, there’s actually a lot to work with. 

If you work in the healthcare industry, many of symbols or images are immediately recognizable but these symbols are found time and time again when it comes to custom nurse pins: 

  • The Maltese Cross: An ancient symbol of the Crusades, the Maltese Cross has been used as a symbol of professional nurses since as far back as the Renaissance and many nursing programs incorporate the cross as part of their school’s emblems. It’s one of the most traditional emblems of nursing and most clients have the emblem either molded in 3D plating or painted red.
  • The Olive-Oil Lamp: Tracing its origins back to Florence Nightingale, one of the most significant figures in the history of nursing. The olive-oil lamp is an internationally recognized symbol of nursing and many custom nurse pins use the lamp as the central part of their designs. If you’re adding an olive-oil lamp to your design, we recommend having the symbol molded in 3D.
  • The Caduceus Staff and the Rod of Asclepius: Internationally recognized symbols of health care practice, both the Cadeucus Staff and the Rod of Asclepius are common emblems of health-related organizations.
  • The Letters “R” and “N”: The letters “R” and “N” are often added to the emblem to highlight their use among Registered Nurses. Some pins might mix this up if the nurse is particularly specialized or working primarily within a specific department.
  • School Emblems: As a common graduation gift, one of the biggest ways to close a chapter in education is representing the school or nursing program a registered nurse has graduated from. Many graduates tend to carry quite a bit of school pride with them even after they’ve left their program and using a school’s unique emblem can give them away to represent their schools even as they go on to become professional nurses.

Design Options for Custom Nurse Lapel Pins

Now that you have an idea of what images tend to be popular, let’s dig into a few tips for what kind of customizations or design options are popular when clients design and order custom nurse pins from AllAboutPins.

  • Plating and Color: In our experience, most nurse pins favor metal plating in either polished gold or silver, especially for images of Caduceus Staff. As for color, most designs only use two or three colors at most (blue and red being the most popular.)
  • Mold Type: Images of the medical instruments or symbols of healthcare are most commonly molded in 3D to bring out the details and create a more visually interesting pin design. But, it’s not unheard of to keep a 2D mold for simpler designs to maintain a neater and more elegant look.
  • Shape: Like with all our pins, custom nurse pins can be shaped however you like, but many clients like to keep their custom nurse pins as a simple circle with the image focused at the center and a text border around the edge. However, it’s also pretty common to simply shape a pin to the design, especially in the case of healthcare instruments or emblems.

Making it Your Own

Still, need help? AllAboutPins has your back when it comes to designing custom nurse lapel pins perfect for either the local hospital or a big graduation event. Don’t be afraid to check in with any of our representatives to get an idea of what we’ve designed in the past and how you can best make a design stand out. As an experienced manufacturer with more than 10 years of experience in the industry, you can rely on us to work with you to make your ideas a reality.