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International Nurses Day: History, Theme, Significance and Celebration
International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day, which is annually sponsored by the International Council of Nurses, honors the contribution that nurses make to societies all over the world. The day has special meaning because it is Florence Nightingale's birthday, who is arguably the most famous nurse in history.

Along with the well-deserved praise that nurses deserve, the organization also creates an International Nurses Day Kit, with a different theme each year, to help and inform medical professionals everywhere. Working with the poor, combating AIDS, ensuring equal access to healthcare, and sustainable development have all been topics of previous publications.

What is International Nurses Day?

The dedication and bravery of nurses all over the world are recognized and honored on International Nurses Day.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is in charge of organizing this fantastic event to guarantee that the invaluable contributions of nurses to people's health around the world are acknowledged.

The ICN has set the theme for International Nurses Day 2023 as Our Nurses. Our Future, will be a global campaign which sets out what we want for nursing in the future in order to address the global health challenges and improve global health for all. We need to learn from the lessons of the pandemic and translate these into actions of the future.

International Nurses Day: History

International Nurses Day: History, Theme, Significance and Celebration
History of International Nurses Day

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was contacted in 1953 by Dorothy Sutherland, a representative of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, with a proposal to observe "Nurses Day". He didn't accept her proposal at the time.

This day has been observed by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) since 1965. Because Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, was born on May 12, it was finally proclaimed "International Nurses Day" in January 1974. On this day every year, ICN puts together and distributes International Nurses Day Kits, which include educational and public informational materials that nurses can use to educate the public. Let us inform you that since 1998, National Student Nurses Day has been observed on May 8 and National Nurses Week is observed from May 6 to May 12.

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”– Mother Teresa

Who is Florence Nightingale?

The mother of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was an English social reformer and statistician who lived from 12 May 1820 to 13 August 1910.

During the Crimean War, where she organized the care of wounded soldiers, Nightingale rose to prominence as a manager of nurses she had trained. In particular, as "The Lady with the Lamp" visiting wounded soldiers at night, she gave nursing a very positive reputation and became a symbol of Victorian culture.

Recent commentators have claimed that Nightingale's contributions to the Crimean War were exaggerated by the media at the time, but detractors agree that her later contributions to the professionalization of nursing for women were of decisive importance. Nightingale founded her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London in 1860, laying the groundwork for modern professional nursing. Currently a part of King's College London, it was the first secular nursing school in the world. The Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international honor a nurse can receive, was named in her honor in recognition of her pioneering work in nursing. Every year on her birthday, International Nurses Day is observed all over the world. She advocated for better hunger relief in India, worked to abolish laws that were too harsh on women who engaged in prostitution, and expanded the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce, among other social reforms.

Nightingale was a gifted and talented author. Many of the published works she produced during her lifetime focused on the dissemination of medical information. Some of her tracts were written in straightforward English so that even those with limited literacy skills could understand them. She was also a pioneer in the effective use of graphical representations of statistical data in infographics. Only after her passing has a significant portion of her writing, including her extensive work on religion and mysticism, been made public.

How to Celebrate International Nurses Day

Take this chance to express your gratitude to a nurse who has taken care of you because this day is dedicated to recognizing nurses' unending contributions to society. Whatever you choose to do doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive, as is the case with most expressions of gratitude. Even a small "thank you" can make a nurse's day because, regrettably, many patients fail to thank their nurses at all, viewing them only as machines that follow the doctor's orders.

Today is the day to express your gratitude if you are particularly appreciative of the way a particular nurse looked after you (fed you, brought you a blanket, cleaned vomit off of you, monitored your vital signs, made sure you were taking the right medications, changed your wound dressings, helped you go to the bathroom, or any of the thousands of other things nurses do). Bring a box of chocolates, a nice bottle of wine, or anything else you think the particular nurse might enjoy when you go to the hospital.

After spending months in the hospital with a serious condition, some patients choose to order pizza or cake for the entire medical staff that was caring for them. If you choose to do this, you can be sure that the team will remember you for the rest of time. As was previously stated, the most important factor is the thought. A nurse's main objective is to assist you in completing treatment and recovering, so simply knowing that they were successful is a reward in and of itself.

You might want to spend some time learning more about Florence Nightingale and all that she accomplished since the day was chosen because it is her birthday anniversary. There are numerous books that have been published as well as numerous online resources. The modern nursing profession was founded by Florence Nightingale. Throughout the Crimean War, she organized the care of soldiers who had been injured in combat while acting as a nurse trainer and manager. She became a symbol of Victorian culture as a result, which helped nurses gain a good reputation.

Florence founded a nursing school in 1860, laying the groundwork for modern professional nursing. This occurred at St. Thomas' Hospital in London. In the present, it belongs to King's College London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world at the time, which is quite an accomplishment! The extent of her accomplishments is far greater than this. She advocated for better hunger relief in India, increased female participation in the workforce, assisted in the repeal of discriminatory prostitution laws for women, and improved healthcare for all social groups in Britain.

Celebration: Country by Country


The Australian Nurse of the Year is announced at a ceremony at one of the state's capital cities. Additionally, in each of the Australian states and territories, various nursing ceremonies are conducted during the week.


In 2007, 5000 nurses gathered in Yichun, East China's Jiangxi Province. Each year nurses in Chinese hospitals recite the Florence Nightingale Pledge.


Every year from May 6–12, Nurse Jobs Ireland, an Irish nurse recruitment agency, launches a weeklong pro-bono campaign to honor nurses. With the hashtag #CelebrateNurses, this week-long celebration highlights the fantastic work nurses do on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The public posts their gratitude and compliments on the Celebrate Nurses website, where they are compiled into an ebook that is distributed in hospitals across Ireland.

United Kingdom

Westminster Abbey in London hosts a service every year. A symbolic lamp is taken from the Nurses' Chapel in the Abbey and passed from one nurse to the next before being placed on the High Altar by the Dean during the Service. This represents the dissemination of nursing expertise from one nurse to another. On the Sunday following Florence Nightingale's birthday, a service is also held at St. Margaret's Church in East Wellow, Hampshire, where she is laid to rest.

USA & Canadian Celebrations (National Nursing Week)

National Nursing Week is observed in the United States every year from May 6 through May 12 (Florence Nightingale's birthday). Every year, the week that includes May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday, marks National Nursing Week in Canada. In 1985, the Canadian Minister of Health established National Nursing Week.

The first National Nurses Week was observed in the United States from October 11–16, 1954, to commemorate Florence Nightingale's trip to the Crimea, which turned 100 years old that year. A "National Nurse Week" was subsequently declared by President Nixon in 1974. President Reagan approved a resolution in 1982 designating May 6 as "National Recognition Day for Nurses," which is now celebrated as National Nurses Day or National RN Recognition Day. The American Nurses Association (ANA) changed the day into what is now known as National Nurses Week, which is observed from May 6 to May 12.

National Student Nurses Day was established by the ANA in 1997 at the National Student Nurses Association's request. National School Nurse Day was established by the ANA in 2003 to fall on a Wednesday during National Nurses Week. However, according to the National Association of School Nurses, National School Nurse Day has been observed since 1972.

Certified Nurses Day (May 19): History, Meaning And Honor Certified Nurses Day (May 19): History, Meaning And Honor


On August 1st, Singapore commemorates Nurses Day. In the 1800s, a prosperous Singapore realized that it needed to improve healthcare and medical services for a burgeoning population. Although there were many hospitals, there weren't enough nurses to help the doctors. As the only educated European women in Singapore who could take on this challenge, French nuns from the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus were trained as nurses to fill this need. The development of nursing in Singapore began on August 1st, 1885, when these nuns started working as nurses at the General Hospital at the Sepoy Lines in the Outram neighborhood.

International Nurses Day: Significance

International Nurses Day: History, Theme, Significance and Celebration
Photo: biomedcentral

We cannot ignore the fact that nursing is the largest health care profession in the world and is essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on a global scale. The nurses receive a variety of training programs to help them maintain the patients' health and wellbeing.

Without a doubt, nurses are highly skilled at providing the highest quality medical care. Are you aware that National Nurses Associations (NNAs) play a significant role in supporting nurses, providing education, and ensuring that they are well-informed and advised so that they can carry out their duties effectively? In order to strengthen healthcare systems, NNA collaborates with both governmental and non-governmental organizations.

What is the International Council of Nurses (ICN)?

It is a company that employs nurses and guides nursing globally. They guarantee sound health policies and high-quality nursing care for everyone around the world. ICN selects a theme for International Nurses Day each year. The resources and supporting data address contemporary pressing issues and highlight the numerous ways that nurses are having an impact.

We can therefore conclude that International Nurses Day is observed all over the world to increase public awareness of nursing as a profession and the contribution that nurses make to the system of health care. Nurses are those who attend to the patients' local needs, who are properly trained in patient handling techniques, who aim to enhance the patients' physical and mental health, etc.

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