Each year, National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6 to 12, concluding on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is renowned as the founder of the modern nursing profession.
The week honors the variety of ways that nurses work to improve healthcare. The observance also includes National Student Nurses Day on May 8 and National School Nurse Day, which is celebrated on the Wednesday of each National Nurses Week. This year, that Wednesday falls on May 9.
During the course of this week-long holiday, schools, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare organizations recognize their nurses’ hard work and commitment through special events, ceremonies and activities.
What National Nurses Week Means To Professionals
Often, all it takes is one positive experience with someone in a particular career field to point us on our path toward a profession. This happens a lot with nursing; many nurses feel the profession chose them instead of the other way around. For these professionals, their career choice is a calling of the heart – possibly one they’ve dreamed about since childhood.
Nursing is a diverse career, full of challenges and rewards. National Nurses Week offers nurses a chance to reflect on their accomplishments, and to feel pride in their contributions. For the people whose lives have been touched by the services that nurses provide, it provides them with a unique opportunity to say thanks.
National Nurses Week is a wonderful way to focus attention on the millions of nurses in the United States who are saving lives and improving healthcare.
How It All Began…
Efforts to recognize nurses nationally began in the early 1950s, when the first National Nurse Week was observed ‘unofficially’ in October 1954. However, it wasn’t until two decades later, in February 1974, that the White House designated National Nurse Week in an official capacity.
Over the years, recognition of nurses expanded – and in February 1982, the American Nurses Association (ANA) board of directors formally declared May 6 as National Nurses Day.
A few years later, in the early 1990s, The ANA Board of Directors designated May 6 – 12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week for years to come.
Honoring & Thanking Nursing Professionals
Caring for others requires special skills and talents. It is often the nursing staff that patients remember as the heart of their hospital experience. Good nursing is considered to be the perfect blend of science and art; it requires dedicated and passionate people who can communicate and relate well – and also possess the knowledge required to tend to patients’ medical needs.
Nurses today are on the front lines in the ongoing challenges facing the healthcare industry. As debates about insurance, HMOs, unions and other issues swirl around them, nurses continue to do what they do best: advocating for their patients and offering them comfort during their most vulnerable and difficult times.
Nurses deserve to honored and celebrated for all they do, and we should be inspired and humbled by the history of their noble profession.