National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week is a celebration that is rich in history. It is celebrated annually from May 6th to May 12th. It was officially enacted in 1974 by then President Richard Nixon. It is meant to honor nurses everywhere and the work they do in keeping the U.S. healthy.

The Nursing profession is one to be proud of and it’s only right that they should be honored for their contribution to so many people in need. Nurses go above and beyond what anyone could expect, in order to bring comfort and aid to people in need of care.

The historic dates for this prestigious event are as follows –


In January of this 1974, May 12th was declared as ‘International Nurse Day’ by the International Council of Nurses.


Also in 1974, after previously failed attempts by Congress and activists, President Richard Nixon proclaimed we would designate a ‘National Nurse Week’.


It was in February of this year that the ANA (American Nurses Association) Board of Directors came to a formal acknowledgment that May 6th would indeed be ‘National Nurses Day’. This action was the affirmation of a joint resolution of our U.S. Congress who designated May 6th as ‘National Recognition Day for Nurses’.


The ANA initiated their ‘National RN Recognition Day’ on May 6th in honor of our nation’s nurses. This group continually encourages both state and regional nurses associations to recognize May 6th as ‘National RN Recognition Day’.


The Board of Directors of the ANA designated that May 8th would be recognized as ‘National Student Nurses Day’.

The Cry For Nurses Week Pushes On

Today we have approximately 3.1 million registered nurses within the U.S. and 2.4 million are actively employed. They are the largest occupation within our healthcare system. We have nurses working in clinics, hospitals, and various other health care facilities and organizations all across this nation.

The idea of having a National Nurses Week was the brain child of Dorothy Sutherland (U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare). It was in 1953 that she asked then President Eisenhower to declare a special day in October and make it ‘Nurse Day’. Sadly, he never made it.

The year following, a bill was sponsored by Representative Frances Bolton for National Nurse Week that was observed from Oct. 11th to Oct. 16th of 1954. It marked the 100th year anniversary of our famous Florence Nightingale’s nursing mission to Crimea.

Another attempt was made in 1955 to push a bill through Congress to get a National Nurse Week, and again, nothing came of it. It was about that same time, however, that Congress had put a stop to its earlier practices of proclaiming any sort of national weeks.


The event was created and designed to celebrate nurses everywhere for their commitment and contribution. It has been both the American Nurses Association and other nursing organizations pulling together to accomplish this goal. It is the legacy of, as well as a tribute to, Florence Nightingale’s daring and brave treating of wounded soldiers in the Crimean war.

Along with the ANA there is the ENR (Essential Nursing Resources). They provide a comprehensive list of nursing resources like print and electronic sources, in the effort to support our nurses in the administration, research, education, and practice of their profession.

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