Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary Honors Nurses

Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary Honors Nurses
Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary Honors Nurses

US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, honors nurses in a special message this week for National Nurses Week.  The weeklong celebration ends tomorrow on Florence Nightingale’s birthday; she was born 193 years ago.

“National Nurses Week 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,” says Sebelius. (hhs.gov)

Wednesday marked the 16th annual National Student Nurses Day; it was initially requested by the National Student Nurse Association in 1997 and designated to be May 8.

The National Student Nurse Association (NSNA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1952 to mentor students with a desire to become nurses.  Students are enrolled in varied levels of programs from associate, baccalaureate, to generic graduate nursing levels and from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The NSNA boasts over 60,000 current members and is dedicated to fostering professional development for those students who will become leaders and members of the nursing profession.

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 Careis the theme for this years’ National Nurses Week.


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

Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary Honors Nurses
Florence Nightingale

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.

In Sebelius’ 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)

Todays’ nurses are more than an assistant to the doctor as shown in Hollywood’s film noir, they are responsible for a great deal of patient care, as well as being a liaison between doctors and family members.  They are crucial when it comes to the recovery of patients; a new study led by a nurse scientist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center shows how important they can be in relation to pediatric readmissions.

Heather Tubbs-Cooley, PhD, RN, says that, “Reducing preventable readmissions is also a high priority for hospitals,” she goes on to explain, “Lower patient-to-nurse ratios hold promise for reducing preventable readmissions by allowing for more effective pre-discharge monitoring of patient conditions, improving discharge preparation and through enhanced quality improvement success.  Delivering high quality patient care requires nurses’ time and attention, and better staffing conditions likely allow nurses to thoroughly complete the clinical care that children and their families need in order to have a successful discharge.” (www.eurekalert.org)

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.

Without the time and attention of these dedicated nursing professionals, many of us would suffer needlessly through our ailments.  More often than not, they do not provide the bare minimum of service or care, they go beyond the call of duty and make our days brighter.

Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary Honors Nurses
Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary Honors Nurses

Although Sunday officially marks the end of the celebration, nurses remain devoted to their charges and deserve appreciation throughout the year not simply during a week designated in their honor.  So, take the time to make their life a little easier, as they help you out during a difficult and troubling time.

By Dawn Cranfield

Senior Correspondent/Product Specialist

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