Quiz: How much do you know about the nursing cap?

Why was the nursing cap such a cherished accessory in the early decades of nursing? Do you think you know what inspired the first design and what that mysterious black band stood for? Test your knowledge and find out some facts you might not have known.

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49 Responses to Quiz: How much do you know about the nursing cap?

  1. Your name

    I wish I had kept my nursing cap even though I didn’t graduate LPN school. I’m going to start the process this spring for RN school.

  2. 28 years rn

    i still have my cap that i wore for only 3 years, it still starched white and clean. honest i think it could hold PDR up on its own. my patients recognized me as a Nurse, and i miss that recognition and in some ways the pride i had wearing it.

  3. Donna nurse of 32 years

    I wore my LPN hat for 11 years . I was the last nurse at my hospital to stop wearing the hat. If you think about it, the hat was dirty. But I wore my hat with pride.


    been a nurse 13 yrs… sometimes I wish i had a cap to wear to work…..it really is an honor for others to know that you passed all that it takes to be one of the few, the proud… THE NURSES!!!!

  5. judy silverman

    I graduated in 1966 and was so proud to wear my cap.Over the years, it was discontinued. but I wore it when I marched in an annual town parade, on Memorial day, with the Civil Defense Nurses. I still have 2 of the caps-crisp and ready for use… someday..

  6. Mereia Sovarua

    We normaly hand in our caps after graduation to our nursing school but i wish i still have my RN cap .Got missing as we no longer wear caps

  7. I wore that cap all through the Diploma Program, 4 days a week for Clinicals. When you took it off after for lunch&classroom–it was still there,that “Cap Head” feeling disappeared right around the time you put it on the next day at 5:30 am. I’v closed the patient doors on it, caught it in the patient curtains-it stayed stuck on the curtain but I kept moving. And had a couple of cocky teen-agers hoarck lugies at it. Still neatly packed in a special box, though yellowing in age. It will always be thee most “Special RN memory along with the Pinning Ceremony, hanging our uniforms from the roof symbalizing it was Grad time & seeing our Instructors get loaded at our Graduation Dinner and Dance. Ahh the good old days!

  8. Cindie

    I still have my LVN/LPN cap from the late 70’s and the RN from the late 80’s, and my mom’s from the 40’s

  9. D. Elaine Nohe

    Because I was a rare one to still wear my cap into the mid ’80’s, the hospital would come to me to borrow my cap for the Nurse’s Week display.

  10. Toy

    I am still very proud of my caps, LPN and RN. I wish that all schools would go back to the caps and whites that set nurses apart from the rest of the hospital staff, or individuals at Dr. offices. When I have worn my whites, the degree of respect is elevated by the patients and their families. Some traditions should never be changed.

  11. Sue Marchal

    The cap symbolized respect and also defined which school you graduated from.

    There was a verse from a song we sang..

    We came here to get a cap, Honey. Honey
    We came here to get a cap. Babe. Babe.
    We came here to get a cap. But all we do is clean up crap.
    Honey. Little Baby mine.

    St E’s Dayton OH do you remember this?

  12. Lorraien

    I have a cap but never wore one. Got it when doing my ADN program but never got “capped” – I transferred to a 4 year program before that.

  13. Helen T

    I only wore my cap twice, once for the capping ceremony and again the pictures. It sits in a box in the closet.

  14. Eileen

    I was very proud of my nursing school cap. It showed the world what I had accomplished and where! They did get in the way at times, but back then there was no question about who was the nurse and who was anciliary personnel. I still have both of my caps. The original one and the one it was switched to during the war.

  15. connie Deedrick, RN

    I gave my cap to my little girl to wear for dress up. Don’t know what ever happened to it!

  16. Nana

    I wear my cap one day during NURSES WEEK! I earned it, I’m Wearing it!

    • MadamMorgan

      Yes, you did! :) As for wearing our nursing caps on National Nurse’s Day, I think thats a beautiful tribute to our profession. To be a nurse is an honor. The Nursing cap is a symbol of pride and accomplishment. Wearing a cap makes you walk a little taller. And it does command a certain type old school classiness and respect unseen these days. 2016 should begin the yearly nurse’s tradition to wear your nursing cap to work on National Nurse’s Day. Even if our caps are only worn till our first rounds are completed lol. 😉

  17. maureen

    We were given our hats in nursing school. The first year plain white…second year a pink stripe was added and third year back to plain white. We were given the black stripe to add upon completion of our diploma program. We were the last ones to wear the hat. Just after we graduated they discontinued nurses wearing the hat. I still have mine…in the plastic hat carrying case with my initials on it..that’s how we carried them. I received it first in 1983 and graduated in 1986. It’s a little yellowed but I will never discard it….good memories.
    As an afternote a few years ago I put the hat on and asked my nephew i he knew what type of hat it was…to my pure amazement his answer was …it’s a hat a waitress wears….he wasn’t kidding!!!!

  18. Helen

    I was always proud to wear my cap, I had one from the LPN program and one from the ADN programs that I graduated from..I was one of the last 2 nurses in the hospital to continue wearing mine. I finally gave up as well. Now we are all getting these Large name badge’s with the RN on it, to help patient’s identify the RN’s from all the other staff. How about just returning to wearing the caps!

  19. Tula

    Caps were not worn when I graduated… but I love it when nurses that do have them wear them during nurses week. It is a sense of pride and respect for the history of our profession..

  20. Catherine A.

    It’s so sad that the so-called “women’s movement” convinced us that our caps were a sign of sexism and subservience. That was a lie. They were a sign of professionalism.

    The religious orders that have gone back to wearing the traditional habit are growing, and those that wear street clothes are dying. I’d be willing to bet that if a hospital demanded whites and caps it would have a lot of nurses knocking on the door wanting to work there.

  21. Sharon Parsons

    I remember wearing nurse’s caps. They would fall off or get in the way many times. I believe that any nurse who feels like wearing them ought to go for it, but for me I would prefer not to.

  22. I remember one instructor’s comments as we approached capping day, “Remember girls it’s not the cap that counts, but the head that’s under it.”

  23. Pamela Hediger

    I wish the cap would come back…no one can tell if you are a nurse or housekeeper any more…wearing it again would be a badge of honor.

  24. Laura S

    I graduated as an RN from a community college in the mid 80’s. The only cap I wore was for my grad picture. Although I know it’s not the most practical thing around, there are days I wish we still wore them. Or at least that I had one when I graduated.

  25. Kathy R

    Who invented the idea that infection and bacteria come from your nurse’s cap? That was the idea of wearing a cap, so that your hair was up and mostly under your cap to protect the patient. Today nurses can wear their hair in any style even brushing their shoulders. Tell me that isn’t a way of transmitting bacteria to the patient! Go back to wearing caps. I love mine cap and hated the day nurses stopped wear them. Caps have always been a sign of honor, accomplisment and proud moments in the life of a nurse.

  26. Tricia

    We used to starch our caps and plaster them on the refrigerator to dry; did anyone else do this? Our capping ceremony was so special to me; ah, the good old days! (I’m a diploma grad from 1979)

  27. We had a cap in Nursing School. Most people thought it looked like the Pope’s. It was large and awkward. Oftentimes, it would get in the way of IV lines, and tubes and anything that was around the patients. I liked the cap otherwise. And as Kathy R posted, this long hair everywhere is wrong. Long Nails that are fake carry much disease. Nursing needs to be Professional. When I graduated, I had ordered a pin. Unfortunately, they did not arrive in time for our Pinning Ceremony. I was not here when they arrived and THE SCHOOL SOLD MINE TO SOMEONE WHO HAD OPTED NOT TO BUY ONE!!!! I never bought one b/c I felt that was wrong. I had someone waiting to pick it up when it arrived and I had paid for it prior to ordering. That was Not professional. They could have at least asked first. I decided I would buy a pin from the Nursing School when I received my Masters (MSN) but unfortunately, I was injured and unable to complete this. I still regret not having a pin from Nursing School. Would not mean anything now. But my caps are in boxes on the Closet Shelf turning yellow. I will leave it there as I cannot ever work again.

  28. Brigitte Truman

    I went through nursing school in Germany, a very long time ago (1984-1987) and I had to wear a nursing cap through the entire program. The first year I wore one with one stripe on it showing everybody I was still a green horn, at the beginning of the program, the second year I wore one with two stripes, and the third year one with three stripes. When I graduated, I donned a perfectly white cap. I don’t miss having to starch, measure the lines where I had to fold, then pin it on my head with minimum four bobby-pins. Every time I had to run from one building to another when it rained or even just drizzled, my cap would have many small dents the raindrops made, and I would give my patients, the fellow nursing staff, and most of all, the docs something to laugh at. I would also forget I had it on my head and would bump it on things, misshaping it.
    But, in all fairness, the nursing cap is classy, professional, and it carries great stigma (symbolizes service to humanity, made in honor of Florence Nightingale). I couldn’t imagine a nursing ceremony without it. :-)

  29. maryann cardaci-dagrosa

    I loved my graduate cap. I felt so proud to wear it each day. We had a pretty organza puff that we would starch on a light bulb. It was light on your head and never got in the way. I truly feel that when we wore caps we earned more respect all around; patients, visitors, doctors, etc. Now in scrubs, everyone looks the same.

  30. I wish nurses still word nurses caps..I think patients would have more respect because it would symbolize your role. I like the way they looked;not to mention, it could cover your head on a bad hair day :)

  31. Laura

    I wore my LPN cap for many years after I graduated from my first nursing school but when I went back for my RN degree , the tradition of wearing the cap was discontinued. We didn’t even have to wear whites anymore. Wearing scrubs is more comfortable but truly, I would wear the whites and cap any day. It sets you apart as a nurse and brings a bit more respect!!

  32. Janet

    I still have both of my hats…the first yellowed from age…. I wore through years of clinicals…the second crisp white I wore on graduation. I graduated in 93. I even have my little nurse’s torch and candle. Ah memories…..now I am a Stay-At-Home-Mom to five kids under 10…..oh how I miss being a nurse.

  33. Susan

    I wore my cap for years after I started working in ICU and my head stayed sore all the time. I was glad to give it up, but still consider it an honored symbol of my profession. I also wore my gray wool cape. SO warm. I may get it out again this year!
    (I got 8 of 10 right)

  34. Dora

    I actually had a Candy Stripers cap that I earned after my 3rd year of Candy-Striping. It has disappeared somewhere :(. I then got my first real nursing cap when I started LPN school in 1979, it had a red stripe during school and then was changed to black upon graduation. I then got another cap for my RN graduation in 2006, we wore them only for graduation. Alot of the younger students voted against wearing them but us “seasoned nurses” who were proud of the caps won out so we wore them! I still have LPN & RN caps and cherish them alot!

  35. As a male nurse, I of course didn’t have the option of a cap, mostly. I actually dropped out of a program in 1980 because the women decided it was sexist to require them to wear a cap, but not the men. They were going to design a cap for the men also. Within a couple of years they dropped the cap completely.

  36. Anne

    My first nursing job was on an ortho floor in 1973 where all of the beds had trapezes. Bending down to work with the patients, my nursing cap would catch on the trapeze and pull. I wound up with a bald spot on top of my head.
    I transferred to the OR after about 8 months of that. When I left OR nursing many years later, caps were no longer required.
    Taking the quiz (9/10), I learned a lot about caps and our traditions. I respect how others may feel about their caps, but I’ve never missed mine!

  37. Janet Cantwell

    My daughter will be starting LPN school in a couple of weeks. She will be attending the same school that I and her Grandmother attended. I still have my cap from graduation which I hope she will wear on her graduation day.

    • DCRandRN

      I went to a Diploma Program and I worked like a slave to earn my cap. I, too, wore mine long after others had stopped.
      I hate it when ppl say the caps were ” dirty”. Once a week I washed my stockings in the bathroom sink andmy cap as well.
      I noticed that no one mentioned that you could look at another nurse’s cap and tell immediately where she went to school. Always had somebody to sit with in the hospital cafeteria, just look for someone who went to school where you did.
      I work in Geriatrics. I still wear white pants, white shoes and a white jacket. My patients might not be able to remember my name but they ALWAYS know who I am!
      I’d go back to wearing caps in a heartbeat.

  38. Sanylou

    I fought the cap at bedside because the little wings caught IV tubes. I fought keeping it on when doing involved wound care, ie Montgomery Straps. But loved and honored the cap always. I kept for years with RN pins holding a black strip. I miss it sometimes!

  39. Disanamcara

    I worked so hard in nursing school. There were long hours of study, few hours of sleep and the constant thought that I had to remember everything so I wouldn’t hurt my patients. Finally graduation day came, the day I pushed so hard to get to was finally here for the taking. I was about to get my Cap and my Pin. The items that showed the world my accomplishment! I was going to leave Erie and move to Philadelphia for my first job. I would proudly wear the cap and pin to represent my accomplishment and my school. My first day I showed up in my uniform ready to start, scared to death and excited beyond belief. The FIRST thing my mentor said to me is, “We don’t wear caps here, so you don’t need that stupid thing.” My heart sank. I was crushed. One of the two things that our D.O.N. had impressed upon us to wear with pride had just been ripped out from under me. The hat that said where I went to school, that I worked so hard for, was being phased out of existence. It was one of the saddest moments ever. At least for now the cap will be remembered.

  40. Gradcarol

    Our diploma program gave us our plain caps after the first several months of classes. The caps were held in place with a “brain patch” – folded kleenex- and whiite bobby pins.The next year, we added a small black stripe to a side of the cap. The last year, we added a black stripe the length of the cap. The stripes were held on with KY Jelly! Our graduate cap was a “Martha Washington” dust cap and included a black circular stripe at the ruffles. I wore my cap into the late 1980s when scrubs became the uniform of choice. The distinctive school cap and pin were goals that kept us going through the rough assignments.

  41. patrnct

    you could also recognize where a nurse graduated from by the style of her cap. Each had it’s own distinctive characteristics!

  42. amym72

    I just graduated from nursing school Sept 2014 as an LPN, our school was only 1 of 2 schools in Ohio that the student nurses wear the cap as part of the uniform. We wore it 5 days a week the first few weeks, then we wore them to clinical two days a week for the rest if the year except for the days we were on the pediatric unit. It was a plain white cap and we had the option to purchase a clear vinyl carry case. Upon completion of the program we received a new cap with two yellow stripes and LPN pin/tacks to wear to graduation. My cap is now sitting in it’s case, I plan to go on for my RN in the next year, the school I will be attending does not ear caps as part of the uniform, whether I get one for graduation or only for pictures I don’t know, but I intend to have a cap with a black stripe once I finish my RN classes, to put with my other two caps.

  43. Cait McKnelly

    My grandmother graduated from Baylor Hospital School of Nursing in Dallas in 1926. Three weeks after she graduated she married my grandfather. Due to hospital regulations (and nursing culture) she wasn’t permitted to nurse in a hospital after she married as nurses were required to live on the hospital campus in nursing residence halls. She ended up giving up the profession until the late 1950s when, under a program passed in the Eisenhower adminstration to address a nursing shortage, she took a six week refresher course in nursing, and then challenged and passed LPN boards in Missouri. Because she hadn’t attended an actual practical nursing school, she wore a “state cap” that had a patch on one corner in the shape of the state of Missouri and “LPN” diagonally across the patch. My grandmother passed away in 1962 when I was nine years old but my interest in nursing and the desire to make it my life work was, in part, inspired by her,
    In 1975 I graduated from LPN school. In a touching surprise that my mother had arranged with my school, when I was capped during the graduation ceremony, I was capped with my grandmother’s cap and given my school cap to hold.
    In 1985 I graduated from RN school. On that ocassion, my mother gave me my grandmother’s graduation pin from Baylor.
    I am now 62 years old and, after 35 years in nursing, retired five years ago for health reasons. My great niece is planning to start nursing school and I intend to pass mine and her great great grandmother’s caps and pins to her. The Nightingale lamp is being passed, lit from generation to generation.

    • MadamMorgan

      Now I’m teary eyed. Absolutely beautiful story of your families continued journey in the nursing profession. Something to be proud of for sure. Congrats :)

  44. 4nsicsrn75

    So far I am liking the magazine. As an BSN/ RN/EMT I like keeping track of the changes to the nursing field, and EMS. As well as forensics.

  45. Rugwithlegs

    In my home province in Canada, a thick black band meant you graduated from one school and two thin black bands meant you graduated from the other. That went on into the early nineties.