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  • Z. Garnett

The History of National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week is celebrated annually during the second week in May. It begins on May 6th and ends on May 12th in honor of Florence Nightingales birthday. As we celebrate National Nurses Week, let’s take look at the history of how it came to be.

In 1953, Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a letter to the White House to proclaim “Nurses Day,” however it was never implemented. In October of the following year, the first Nurses Week was observed (October 11-16) in honor of the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s Mission to Crimea. A bill to make the week into an annual celebration was proposed two years later, however no action was taken.

 In January of 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed May 12th as International Nurse Day. One month later, the White House designated a week as National Nurse Week. The fight however, continued on. Between the years of 1978-1981, legislators and lobbying nurses established May 6 as a day of recognition for nurses. One year later it would go on to be known as National Recognition Day for Nurses.

Finally, in 1990 the American Nurses Association (ANA) placed a petition to extend National Recognition Day for Nurses to a week-long celebration which was later granted. After another petition in 1993, May 6-12 was permanently designated as National Nurse Week.

We would like to wish all nurses a happy National Nurses Week! How do you plan to recognize the nurses in your life? Leave a comment!




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