Nurses are the first line of defense in the prevention of illness and injury. They champion and promote the health of the nation. During and after National Nurses Week, it’s appropriate thank nurses for the work they do each and every day to support America's health.
National Nurses Week 2014 just ended on May 12th, Florence Nightingale's birthday. These permanent dates enhance planning and position National Nurses Week as an established recognition event. As of 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day, to be celebrated annually. And as of 2003, National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday within National Nurses Week (May 6-12) each year.
The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896. Each of ANA's state and territorial nurses associations promotes the nursing profession at the state and regional levels. Each conducts celebrations on these dates to recognize the contributions that nurses and nursing make to the community. The ANA supports and encourages National Nurses Week recognition programs through the state and district nurses associations, other specialty nursing organizations, educational facilities, and independent health care companies and institutions.
A Brief History of National Nurses Week
1953 Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower to proclaim a "Nurse Day" in October of the following year. The proclamation was never made.
1954 National Nurse Week was observed from October 11 - 16. The year of the observance marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's mission to Crimea. Representative Frances P. Bolton sponsored the bill for a nurse week. Apparently, a bill for a National Nurse Week was introduced in the 1955 Congress, but no action was taken. Congress discontinued its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.
1972 Again a resolution was presented by the House of Representatives for the President to proclaim "National Registered Nurse Day." It did not occur.
1974 In January of that year, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed that May 12 would be "International Nurse Day." (May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale.) Since 1965, the ICN has celebrated "International Nurse Day."
1974 In February of that year, a week was designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issued a proclamation.
1978 New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as "Nurses Day." Edward Scanlan, of Red Bank, N.J., took up the cause to perpetuate the recognition of nurses in his state. Mr. Scanlan had this date listed in Chase's Calendar of Annual Events. He promoted the celebration on his own.
1981 ANA, along with various nursing organizations, rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through their Congressman, Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as "National Recognition Day for Nurses."
1982 In February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982 as "National Nurses Day." The action affirmed a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as "National Recognition Day for Nurses."
1982 President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25, proclaiming "National Recognition Day for Nurses" to be May 6, 1982.
1990 The ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6 - 12, 1991, as National Nurses Week.
1993 The ANA Board of Directors designated May 6 - 12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years.
1996 The ANA initiated "National RN Recognition Day" on May 6, 1996, to honor the nation's indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year. The ANA encourages its state and territorial nurses associations and other organizations to acknowledge.
May 6, 1996 as "National RN Recognition Day." 1997 The ANA Board of Directors, at the request of the National Student Nurses Association, designated May 8 as National Student Nurses Day.
Celebrating nurses is a year round activity. Some possible ways are;
Inviting a politician to accompany one or more nurses while on the job. Health care remains an important issue to voters. Politicians should be visible and accountable for their positions on health care. This offers good media coverage potential. Recognize all registered nurses who are in your state legislature and hold an event at the state capitol. Take the opportunity to educate state legislators about the role and value of registered nurses in the health care system.
Hold a special celebration or reception to recognize one or more nurses in your community for heroic acts, years of service to the community, exemplary courage, or commitment to the profession. Emphasize the importance of RNs in the nation's health care system; pay tribute to a local nurse; or recognize all RNs who provide care all day, year-round. Suggest that your state or local newspaper solicit stories from readers who would like to pay tribute to a nurse who provided exemplary care.
Ask every nurse in America to wear an "RN Pin" and/or nurse's uniform. The official "RN Pin" is available at https://www.jimcolemanstore.com/ana/nnw-official-rn-pin.html
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