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National Nurses Week (May 6-12): Most Important Dates in History
National Nurses Week

What is National Nurses Week?

National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6th through May 12th to honor the contributions nurses have made to society and the health of patients across the country. This week is National Nurses Week, and many hospitals and healthcare facilities will be holding celebrations for their staffs. Many Americans owe their current quality of life to the care they received from nurses.

This week, nurses everywhere will be recognized for the tireless work and personal sacrifice they make every day. In the United States, nurses are an integral part of the healthcare team, providing support to patients at all stages of life. This week, we can recognize and honor nurses for all that we do.

History of National Nurses Week

All-male religious orders provided for the sick and dying during the Middle Ages. In religious hospitals, women started to take on more responsibility in the 1600s.

It began in 1994 and continues to this day, running from May 6 through May 12 (which is also Florence Nightingale's birthday). This article will provide a brief history of the celebration that lasts for a week.

National RN Recognition Day (May 6)

The American Nurses Association (ANA) decided to recognize nurses' contributions to fostering a culture of cooperation and safety in healthcare during National Nurses Week this year. Give a nurse you know the credit they merit if they've had a significant positive impact on workplace safety or cooperation. Our hats are off to you if you have personally contributed to healthcare industry collaboration or safety!

National Student Nurses Day (May 8)

Take a moment on May 8 to honor a few of the diligent student nurses you know in honor of National Student Nurses Day! Student nurses put in a lot of effort to make sure they can have a beneficial impact on their patients and the nursing sector in the future by finishing unending assignments, tests, and clinical days. During National Nurses Week, it's a terrific idea to give student nurses a little additional motivation, especially those who are presently enrolled in summer classes!

Day of the School Nurse (May 11)

This week, there will be additional special focus on school nurses. National School Nurse Day has been observed on the Wednesday of National Nurses Week since 2003. This year, it will fall on May 11, one day before the week-long celebration comes to a close. The nation's children's physical and mental health requirements are largely handled by school nurses, so it is only fitting to recognize their efforts with a special day.

Nurses, once thought of as menial doctors' assistants, are now valued as highly specialized professionals with a diverse set of abilities. In today's world, becoming a nurse takes four years of study, intense concentration, and devotion. A vital connection between patients and doctors is made by this flexible profession with numerous specialties.

Florence Nightingale is credited with establishing modern nursing through her tireless efforts both during and after the Crimean War. She laid the groundwork for professional nursing. Nightingale introduced hygiene protocols and other measures while serving as a nursing manager on the front lines, greatly reducing infections and fatalities in battlefield hospitals.

Today, nurses work in a variety of settings and specialties, from highly specialized oncology nurses who help with life-saving treatment decisions to school nurses who administer vaccinations.

The International Council of Nurses declared May 12 to be International Nurses Day in 1974 in order to recognize the contributions of nurses and draw attention to their working conditions. A few years later, the event was expanded to last for an entire week, and National Nurses Week was created in 1994. The week-long celebration, which is sponsored and promoted by the American Nurses Association, emphasizes the significant contributions nurses make to society.

In the United Kingdom, nurses observe a yearly custom modeled after Florence Nightingale's overnight visits to wounded soldiers, which gave her the moniker "Lady with the Lamp." On May 12, nurses form a line and pass a ceremonial lamp from the Nurses' Chapel at Westminster Abbey to the High Altar of the abbey as a representation of the transmission of knowledge.

Only 60% of nurses work in hospitals

Almost half of nurses work in other locations including schools, hospice facilities, and private homes.

The Most Important Days and Timeline in National Nurse Week

250 B.C.E.

First Recorded Nursing School

India established the first nursing school known to exist in 250 BCE. Only men were allowed because they were thought to be more "pure" than women.


First Modern Nursing Courses Offered

The Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia begins offering a six-month nursing program, considered the first state chartered nursing school in the U.S.


First U.S. Independent Nursing School Opens

At Yale, the nation's first independent nursing school opens its doors to women, a novel practice at the time.


Dorothy Sutherland, a worker at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, offered President Eisenhower a request to declare one of the days in October as a "Nurse Day." Unfortunately, this declaration was never made by President Eisenhower.


Once more, the House of Representatives submitted a request to the president to declare a "National Registered Nurse Day" over 20 years later. Sadly, the announcement was never made.


The International Council of Nurses (ICN) declared May 12 to be "International Nurse Day" in January. In an effort to acknowledge the achievements made by American nurses to society and the nursing profession, President Nixon inaugurated "National Nurse Week" one month later.


"Nurses Day" was declared by the governor of New Jersey on May 6. A nurse-specific commemoration event eventually gained momentum after this day was added to Chase's Calendar of Annual Events.


A resolution to declare May 6, 1982 as "National Recognition Day for Nurses" was started thanks to congressman Manuel Lujan and nurses from all throughout New Mexico. Several nursing organizations, including the ANA, came together to back this resolution.


The work started in 1981 ultimately paid off when the ANA Board of Directors declared May 6, 1982, to be "National Nurses Day" in February. President Reagan signed the official proclamation on March 25 after President Manual Lujan's joint motion to designate May 6, 1982 as "National Recognition Day for Nurses" was approved.


The ANA Board of Directors announced that beginning in 1991, the recognition of nurses will be extended from a single day to a weeklong celebration. The inaugural National Nurses Week as we know it today was observed from May 6 to May 12 in 1991.


National Nurses Week was initially observed in 1991, but it wasn't until the ANA Board of Directors met in 1993 that it was decided to make the week-long celebration an annual occasion beginning in 1994.


The ANA created the first official "National RN Recognition Day" on May 6, 1996, in an effort to show RNs support for their dedication and hard work in the nursing field.


The National Student Nurses Association lobbied the American Nurses Association to declare May 8 as "National Student Nurses Day" after the first "National RN Recognition Day," which was observed for the first time on that date in 1997.

FAQs: National Nurse Week

What is National Nurse Week?

National Nurses Week celebrates and acknowledges nurses and the hard work they put in to making their patients feel comfortable.

What week is National Nurses Week?

Every year, National Nurses Week begins on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

What does a nurse do?

Licensed healthcare workers with a wide range of tasks include nurses. In addition to helping doctors during procedures and treatments, they also carry out crucial tests, make healthcare decisions, and inform patients about their health.


Get a massage or a new meal to thank a nurse.

The long hours and infrequent breaks that nurses endure merit a reward. Send a surprise meal or spa day to the nurse in your life to show your appreciation!

Give blood

Donating blood, if you are eligible, is a simple way to ensure that our healthcare system has the resources it needs to save lives.

Thank the nurses you know in writing.

Send a heartfelt note of gratitude to one or more nurses. Tell them you recognize and value their efforts.

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