Nurses are known for their hard work and dedication. Those two characteristics were also prominent in establishing their day of recognition — National Nurses Day.
The idea of proclaiming “Nurse Day” goes back to 1953 when Dorothy Sutherland, U.S. Department of Health, sent a proposal to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. No action was taken.
The next year, National Nurse Week was observed unofficially from Oct. 11 to 16 in remembrance of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea.
The House of Representatives introduced a resolution for National Registered Nurse Day in 1972 which was never approved.
In January 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed May 12 International Nurse Day in honor of Nightingale’s birthday. Then in February, President Richard Nixon finally issued a proclamation establishing National Nurse Week to be celebrated in May.
President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25, 1982, naming May 6 as National Recognition Day for Nurses.
Today, the American Nurses Association celebrates National Nurses Week from May 6 to May 12 — culminating on Nightingale’s birthday — each year. Nightingale — commonly recognized as the founder of modern nursing — changed the way nurses are educated and how nursing as a profession is viewed by society.
The week now includes National RN Recognition Day, National Student Nurses Day and National School Nurse Day.
During the week of May 6 to 12, be sure to thank a nurse!