To nurses, and health care professionals in general, the registered nurse symbol stands as a symbol of accomplishment for completing school. It has become known over the last century as representation for healthcare professionals as a whole for the care and dedication put into this profession. In nursing school the registered nurse symbol is symbolic of the caring nature in nursing. One may ask where did the registered nurse symbol come from? Read on to find out.
The Caduceus, or registered nurse symbol, is a staff that is wing topped with two serpents winding around it to the top. This staff was, according to legend, carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. It was given to him by Apollo.
The symbolic representation of two intertwined snakes appeared early in Babylonia and is related to other serpent symbols of fertility, wisdom, and healing, and of sun gods. This staff of Hermes was carried by Greek heralds and ambassadors and became a Roman mark for truce, neutrality, and noncombatant status.
This symbol has been the insignia of the healthcare branch of the U.S. Army since 1902. The registered nurse symbol, or caduceus, is much used for this purpose much like any other symbol would be used for services such as the Postal Service, commerce or ambassador positions. Since the 16th Century it has replaced the Asclepius one serpent symbol as the image of choice for medicine.
Some people see the registered nurse symbol or Caduceus as a negative symbol for the profession, but even still, it’s a positive symbol of caring for those of us in the profession. No matter what the registered nurse symbol might seem like to others, to the common public it still remains a image from the nursing and medical fields in general, and consequently stands as a positive symbolic representation for them and a sense of comfort.
This goes on to give the public a comforting feeling as they know how it is linked to healthcare in general. No matter the association with ancient mythology, the registered nurse symbol is regarded by most to be a positive image.
Many “medical” organizations use a registered nurse symbol of a short rod entwined by two snakes and topped by a pair of wings, which is actually the caduceus or magic wand of the Greek god Hermes (Roman Mercury), messenger of the gods, inventor of (magical) incantations, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves. Its meaning is ‘heralds staff’ from the Greek word karykeion. Itself based on the word ‘eruko’ meaning control or restrain.
The registered nurse symbol or caduceus is used by other types of organizations, these are generally commercial or military in the U.S. Countries like New Zealand uses include pharmaceutical companies. A study confirmed that the connection of the caduceus and medicine was solidified around the 7th century A.D.
This was around the time Hermes had come to be associated with the study of alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as sons of Hermes, or hermeticists. Cult associations can be found linked to the registered nurse symbol otherwise known as the caduceus.
The magic staff of Mercury, otherwise known as Hermes, was the Caduceus. Associated today as the registered nurse symbol. Back in the time of Hermes this symbol was an image for heralds and commerce, not medicine. The other words associated with this symbol were caducity, imply temporality, and senility