Why Do We Celebrate National Nurses Week?

Eldis Sula
May 04, 2020 - 2:55 pm

This year, the country is celebrating National Nurses Week at a time when the sacrifices and efforts of healthcare workers have been unprecedented.

The week of celebration kicks off every year on May 6th and concludes on May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

To celebrate the efforts of nurses when they are needed more than ever, here are some facts you need to know about National Nurses Week, as well as the nursing profession.

A 'National Nurse Week' was first observed in 1954

The week of celebration was first observed October 11 - 16 in 1954, marking the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea, according to the American Nursing Association (ANA).

A week celebrating nurses was first officially recognized by the White House in 1974

In February of 1974, a week was designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issued a proclamation. The move came after multiple bills for national holidays celebrating nurses were introduced but never passed in Congress since the ’50s.

May 12 was declared International Nurse Day in honor of Florence Nightingale’s birthday

In 1974, International Nurse Day was proclaimed by the International Council of Nurses as May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

National Nurses Week was officially designated in 1993

In 1993, the ANA officially designated May 6 - 12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years. The purpose of the week was to "celebrate and elevate the nursing profession.”

How many nurses are there in the United States?

According to the ANA, there are 4 million registered nurses in the nation.

How respected is the nursing profession?

A Gallup poll conducted in 2018 found that 84% of those surveyed rated the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as "very high" or "high," higher than doctors, pharmacists and teachers.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, appreciation for healthcare workers has been at an all-time high, as nurses, doctors and other medical staff grapple with crowded facilities and risk their own safety to tend to countless patients who have contracted the deadly virus. In March, a campaign took off on social media inviting people to applaud for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic amid increasingly dangerous conditions.

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