National Nurses Week is an important opportunity for Americans to recognize the hard work, dedication, and care nurses provide to communities across the country, day-in and day-out.
When is National Nurses Week?
National Nurses Week takes place between Saturday May 6 and Friday May 12, 2023.
- May 6 is known as National Nurses Day in the United States
- May 12, known as International Nurses Day, marks the revered Florence Nightingale’s birthday
Though the week seeks to honor all nurses, certain days are dedicated to particular groups of nurses.
- May 8 is National Student Nurses Day
- Wednesday May 10 is National School Nurse Day
The entire month of May is also designated by the American Nurses Association as National Nurses Month, with each week in the month dedicated to a different theme: self-care, recognition, professional development, and community engagement.
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What can you do to celebrate National Nurses Week?
There are many ways to honor nurses as part of National Nurses Week, whether you have nurse friends or family members, have been cared recently by a nurse, or simply want to share your support for the nurses in your community.
- If a nurse has impacted you positively as a patient, you could provide them a thank you note or even a gift.
- If you prefer video, you can create a thoughtful or fun video to share with a nurse who has touched your family.
You can send the note, gift, or video to the facility or hospital you received care from.
Business owners can offer discounts and special offers to the nurses in their community. As a nurse, there are several freebies and discounts you can take advantage of all year and additional ones that are available only during National Nurses Week.
Administrators can also celebrate nurses on their staff. Below are a few ideas for administrators to thank their nurses.
- Host an awards ceremony. Recognizing nurses for their achievements goes a long way toward boosting morale.
- Send letters of appreciation. Letting a nurse know they are appreciated goes a long way. Handwriting a letter to express your gratitude could provide extra motivation for a nurse to continue moving forward.
- Create ways for nurses to recognize each other – nurses need to hear from their peers how much they are appreciated as well. Creating a sharing forum is a great way to build team chemistry and foster a sense of camaraderie.
The history of National Nurses Week
Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower in 1953 to create an official Nurse Day. In 1954, the first National Nurses Week was observed in the month of October to honor the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea.
20 years later, President Nixon created a week in February 1974 to acknowledge the nursing profession. In 1978, New Jersey’s governor, Brendon Byrne, declared May 6 as National Nurses Day.
In 1981, there was an assassination attempt on President Reagan. He received care from a team of nurses who dislodged a bullet inches from his heart. After his recovery, Reagan tracked down the nurses and sent them words of encouragement and thank you notes.
In 1982, Ronald Reagan signed an executive order officially declaring May 6 as the National Recognition Day for Nurses. A few years later, in 1990, the American Nurses Association Board of Directors expanded this day to cover a full week, until May 12, which had been known as International Nurses Day since 1965.