Every year, National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6 through May 12. This special week is a time to honor nurses for all that they do in the healthcare industry. Why do we show appreciation for nurses during those specific dates? This is because May 12 is Florence Nightingale’s birthday, a British nurse and social reformer who was known as the founder of the modern nursing profession. These permanent dates allow for better planning and recognition of the event.
The theme of National Nurses Week 2017 is “Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit,” celebrating nurses who lead the charge for health and wellness in their practice and profession.
The Florence Nightingale Pledge
This Hippocratic Oath for nurses was composed in 1863, and it was called the Florence Nightingale Pledge to honor the founder of modern nursing:
I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.
The History of National Nurses Week
Since 1896, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has supported and promoted the nursing profession. Throughout National Nurses Week, the ANA encourages recognition programs for nurses through the state and district levels.
National Nurses Week got its start back in 1953, when Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare suggested President Eisenhower proclaim a “Nurse Day.” While the proclamation was never made, in 1954 “National Nurse Week” was observed from October 11-16, marking the one hundredth anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. Another bill was introduced to Congress in 1955 for an official “National Nurse Week,” but again, no action was taken.
It wasn’t until 1982 when President Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25 declaring May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.” In 1990, the ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses into a week-long celebration, and in 1991, May 6-12 was declared National Nurses Week. The dates became permanent in 1994, and the week has been the time for celebration ever since.
Showing Appreciation for Nurses
National Nurses Week is celebrated in a variety of ways across the country, with a variety of events and activities designed to show appreciation for the challenging and inspiring work they do every day. The ANA offers a downloadable tool kit on their website, with options like customizable awards, thank you cards and email templates to share with all the nurses in your life. They also encourage hosting a celebration or reception to honor the nurses in the community, as well as spreading the word about the value nurses provide to organizations.
At American Senior Communities, our dedicated nurses play a critical role in ensuring the health and happiness of our residents. They make a difference in the lives of seniors through their compassion, quality care and excellence in service. We thank our wonderful nurses for all that they do! Happy National Nurses Week!