Was cleaning house the other day, and in the bottom of a jar full of old coins and religious medallions sent me by a Carmelite nun of my acquaintance (she’s determined to make a good Catholic out of me) I found my original ENC(C) pin. ENC(C) — Emergency Nursing Certification (Canada) — is awarded by the Canadian Nurses Association after documenting so much ED experience and education and writing a 4 1/2 hour exam; one needs to recertify (and gets a new pin) every five years.

I didn’t think much of the pin at the time — but now I remember how hard I studied for the exam, and why I wanted to be certified: intangible benefits conferred and values implied, which were all, in the end, very personal. Commitment. Education. A sense of professionalism. Competence. Dedication. Like me, the pin is a little tarnished in places. But it’s interesting how things so casually cast aside suddenly acquire great value after years of being forgotten.

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