Happy National Nurses Week! As many NPD practitioners get ready to celebrate various Nurses Week activities at their organizations, it’s important to acknowledge the history of National Nurses Week.
According to the American Nurses Association (ANA)’s website, National Nurses week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. In 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day; in 2003, the Wednesday of each year's National Nurse Week was designated as National School Nurse Day.
A Brief History of National Nurses Week
1953 – A proposal was sent to President Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day in October of the following year,” but the proclamation was never made.
1954 – National Nurse Week was observed from October 11-16, which was the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea.
1955 – A bill was introduced to Congress but no action was taken; Congress discontinued its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.
1965 – The International Council of Nurses (ICN) started celebrating “International Nurse Day” on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.
1974 – The ICN made an official proclamation that May 12 would be “International Nurse Day” and President Nixon issued a proclamation that a week would be designated as National Nurse Week.
1978 – New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as “Nurses Day.”
1981 – ANA and other organizations rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico to have May 6, 1982 established as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”
1982 – The ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6 as “National Nurses Day.” This affirmed a joint resolution of the US Congress designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”
1990 – The ANA Board of Directors expended the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6 -12 as National Nurses Week.
1993 – The ANA Board of Directors designated May 6-12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week starting in 1994 and into the future.
1996 – The ANA initiated “National RN Recognition Day” on May 6 to honor the nation’s indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year.