International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day is a day which is celebrated annually all over the world on May 12th. The purpose of this holiday is to mark the contributions made to society by nurses all over the world and to honor them as they do a job that is often unappreciated.

This day shouldn’t be confused with National Nurses Day which is a holiday celebrated on May 6th in the United States to honor the contributions of nurses to society.

History of International Nurses Day

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

However, he didn’t approve this suggestion. It wouldn’t become a holiday until the International Nurses Day was created by the International Council of Nurses in 1965. During the 1970s, May 12th was chosen as the date on which it should be celebrated because that date 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 the attention she brought to the deplorable medical treatment of soldiers during the Crimean War.

International Nurses Day Customs & Traditions

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

Different countries celebrate this holiday in different ways. For example, the Australian Nurse of the Year is usually announced at a ceremony in Australia. In China, sometimes nurses 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, this holiday is observed as a part of National Nurses Week – which begins on May 6th (National Nurses Day) and concludes on May 12th.

Individuals who want to participate in celebrating International Nurses Day can do so by remembering the contributions of their favorite nurse. This can be done by telling them thanks for the work they do, by sending them a card or by sending them flowers. People can also bring attention to this holiday by using the hashtag #internationalnursesday in all of their social media postings.

When is it?
This year (2023)
May 12 Friday
Next year (2024)
May 12 Sunday
Last year (2022)
May 12 Thursday
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