NATIONAL NURSES DAYNational Nurses Day is observed annually on May 6th. On this day, we raise awareness of all nurse contributions and commitments and acknowledge the vital role nurses play in society. This day is also the first day of National Nurses Week and is sometimes known as National RN Recognition Day. National Nurses Week begins on May 6th and ends on May 12th, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910). Florence Nightingale was a celebrated English, social reformer, statistician, and thefounder of modern nursing. She became well-known while taking care of the wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Nightingale was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” because of her habit of making rounds at night.
History of National Nurses Day
National Nurses Day is the first day of National Nursing Week, which concludes on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Yet the week was first observed in the US in October 1954 to mark the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s pioneering work in Crimea.
In 1953, Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower asking him to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the following year to coincide with the anniversary. Although the President didn’t act, the celebration was observed thanks to a bill sponsored by Representative Frances P. Bolton, and the following year a new bill was introduced to Congress lobbying for official recognition of the celebration.
Twenty years later, in February of 1974, President Nixon proclaimed a National Nurse Week to be celebrated annually in May. Over the next eight years, various nursing organizations including the American Nurses Association (ANA) rallied to support calls for a “National Recognition Day for Nurses” on May 6, which was eventually proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
With over 3 million working nurses in the US today, nurses make up the highest percentage of the US healthcare workforce. Although you might not imagine it, nurses are more likely to sustain a back injury on a shift than construction workers, and they walk an average of 5 kilometers per shift, as caring for others’ health is such an active job!
If you think nurses are only found in hospitals, then think again! The majority of registered nurses (59%) practice elsewhere, such as in a nursing home or on home visits. They work across communities to keep people worldwide happy and healthy, and National Nurses Day is the perfect opportunity to show your appreciation for their important work!