This week, beginning Monday, May 06, 2013, is National Nurses Week and ends on Sunday, May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The annual event maintains the same permanent schedule to augment planning and position. Delivering Quality and Innovation in Patient Care is the theme for this years’ National Nurses Week. History Since 1896, nurses have been endorsed and supported by the American Nurses Association (ANA) at both the state and regional levels.
In 1953, a proposal was sent to President Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” by Dorothy Sutherland of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, but it was never made. But in 1954 National Nurse Week was observed in October from the 11 through the 16 to mark Florence Nightingale’s 100th anniversary of her mission to Crimea. However, a bill sponsored by Frances P. Bolton the following year was ignored; Congress discontinued the practice of celebrating national weeks.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) determined to celebrate those who served the ill, injured, and infirmed, officially declared that May 12 would be “International Nurse Day” in 1974 (they had been celebrating it as such since 1965). Also in 1974, President Nixon issued a proclamation designating National Nurse Week. New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as “Nurses Day” in 1978 starting a trend among other states and organizations.
In 1981, ANA and other nursing organizations, supported nurses in New Mexico to rally their Congressman, Manuel Lujan, to sign an
initiative to establish “National Recognition Day for Nurses”, beginning May 6, 1982. Eventually, the ANA Board of Directors declared May 6, 1982 as “National Nurses Day”. They were backed by the United States Congress in a joint resolution when they declared May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses”.
President Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation on March 25. The celebration was expanded to the permanent dates that still stand today in 1990, making May 6 -12 National Nurses Week.
In 1993, the dates were designated permanent by the ANA Board of Directors. “National RN Recognition Day” was introduced in 1996 and designated as May 6. “National Student Nurses Day” was requested by the National Student Nurses Association and has been designated as May 8 since 1997.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has a special message to the public regarding National Nurses Week; she says we celebrate it because it “gives us a chance to recognize the contribution of the health care providers at the heart of our health care system. Every day, nurses provide leadership, innovation and advocacy to meet the health care needs of Americans.” (hhs.gov) Sebelius goes on to say, “From making sure a young mother knows how to care for her toddler, to showing an elderly patient how to manage his diabetes, the role nurses play is more important than ever. The success of the Affordable Care Act, and the expansion of access to health care that it offers, will not be possible without these trusted professionals.” (hhs.gov)
If you have a nurse in your life, whether they are helping you care for somebody in your family, or they are a family member, take the time to appreciate them. Thank them, take them lunch, bring them flowers, or simply smile at them to let them know you appreciate what they do to make you or your loved one’s day a little bit easier.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent/Product Specialist