National Nurses Day

Celebrated annually on May 6th since 1982, National Nurses Day not only celebrates nurses but also raises awareness about the importance of their contributions to society. This holiday kicks off National Nurses Week, a week that ends on May 12th, marking the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12th, 1820, in London, England. During her life, she was a statistician, writer, and social reformer, but today she is known as the founder of modern nursing. Most of the work she was known for at the time was her published work on medical knowledge, some of which were written in simple English so they could be understood by the masses.
It was her work during the Crimean War, however, that would cement her position in modern history. It was during this time that she became known as the “The Lady with the Lamp.” On August 13, 1910, at the age of 90, she died peacefully in her sleep.

History of National Nurses Day

National Nurses Day can be traced back to 1953 when Dorothy Sutherland, an employee at the U.S. Dept. of Health, wrote a letter to President Eisenhower suggesting that a National Nurses Day be officially declared.
Unfortunately, the President didn’t take up her suggestion, and it was left to private citizens to begin celebrating National Nurses Day and eventually, National Nurses Week. Finally, in 1974, President Richard Nixon declared a National Nurse Week. This was followed by a resolution started in New Mexico in 1981 to declare May 6th National Recognition Day for Nurses.
This proposal was heavily promoted by the American Nurses Association over the next year. Finally, in 1982, the U.S. Congress declared May 6th to be National Recognition Day for Nurses, and it was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

Celebrating National Nurses Day

While National Nurses Day was established by the U.S. Congress, it is considered an observance day and not a public holiday. As such, post offices, government offices, and most businesses will remain open on this day. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any activities to partake in. Quite the opposite, in fact.
This day is usually celebrated with special events such as banquets and parties to honor local nurses. There is often a seminar or a public proclamation by local governments to raise the profile of the nursing profession and to educate the public on the importance of nurses.
Each year, the American Nurses Association chooses a theme for the National Nurses Day festivities. In 1988, the theme was “Safe Motherhood”; in 2009, it was “Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Care Innovations”; and in 2017, the theme was “Year of the Healthy Nurse.”
If you’re looking for a more personal way to celebrate this observance, you can always give your favorite nurse gifts or flowers. And if you have a family member who is a nurse, why not take them out for a special dinner to thank them for everything they do?

Where is it celebrated?
United States (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
May 6 Monday
Next year (2025)
May 6 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
May 6 Saturday