International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day is celebrated annually worldwide on May 12th. The purpose of this holiday is to acknowledge the contributions nurses make to society and to honor them for a job that is often underappreciated.

This day should not be confused with National Nurses Day, which is celebrated on May 6th in the United States to honor the contributions of nurses to society.

History of International Nurses Day

The holiday was originally proposed by Dorothy Sutherland, an official with the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. She suggested to President Dwight D. Eisenhower that a Nurses Day be proclaimed in honor of all nurses in the United States.

However, he did not approve the suggestion. It would not become a holiday until International Nurses Day was created by the International Council of Nurses in 1965. During the 1970s, May 12th was chosen as the date for celebration because it is Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12th, 1820, in Florence, Italy. She was a writer, statistician, social reformer, and founder of the nursing profession. She is best known for highlighting the poor medical treatment of soldiers during the Crimean War.

International Nurses Day Customs & Traditions

Each year, the International Council of Nurses establishes a different theme for this holiday. For example, in 1988, the theme was “Safe Motherhood,” in 1998, it was “Partnership for Community Health,” and in 2016, “Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving Health Systems’ Resilience.”

Countries celebrate this holiday in various ways. For instance, the Australian Nurse of the Year is typically announced at a ceremony in Australia. In China, nurses sometimes gather on this day to recite the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

In the United Kingdom, a service for nurses is held at Westminster Abbey in London. In the United States, the holiday is observed as part of National Nurses Week, which begins on May 6th (National Nurses Day) and concludes on May 12th.

Individuals who wish to participate in celebrating International Nurses Day can do so by acknowledging the contributions of their favorite nurse. This can be done by thanking them for their work, sending them a card, or giving them flowers. People can also bring attention to this holiday by using the hashtag #internationalnursesday in their social media posts.

When is it?
This year (2024)
May 12 Sunday
Next year (2025)
May 12 Monday
Last year (2023)
May 12 Friday
Work & Occupation