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National Nurses Week honors those who serve others

May 6, 2019 GMT

National Nurses Week celebrates the nursing profession and the vital role nurses play in health care. It begins May 6, National Nurses Day, and concludes on May 12, which is Florence Nightingale’s birthday (1820-1910). Her trailblazing work in nursing will be honored during the week.

A variety of events will be held across the country to recognize nurses and their critical work. Efforts will also be made to educate the public about what nurses do and promote nursing as a possible career choice.

Nightingale became a heroine during war — the Crimean War changed Florence Nightingale’s life. In early 1854, she and a team she had trained in nursing traveled to the main British war camp in the southern Ukraine. When she arrived, she found an overworked medical staff and a short supply of medicine. Hygiene was being neglected, which led to mass infections and deaths. She organized and improved the nursing of the sick and wounded and improved the cleanliness of the area.


She was greatly admired for her far-sighted ideas and her writings sparked worldwide health care reform. Inspired by her actions, more young women trained to become nurses.

Since that time, nursing has evolved into a profession with many different paths. Now, nurses have many career choices available to them during their nursing careers.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson introduced legislation in honor of National Nurses Week on May 8, 2012.

“National Nurses Week is dedicated to acknowledge the hard work, patience, and service that our nurses provide. As the first registered nurse in Congress, I know first-hand how important health care professionals are in enhancing our daily lives. That is why I introduced H. Res. 644 to support the ideals and goals of National Nurses Week,” said Johnson.

Why is nursing so important? Nurses are on the front lines of providing quality health care, serving the public in a wide range of roles and work settings. They fulfill a critical role in the healthcare system.

The first National Nurses Week was held in 1954, the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s Crimean War work. Nightingale’s birthday, May 12, was later established as an International Nurse Day by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in 1974. As of 1998, May 8 has been designated as National Student Nurses Day.