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National Nurses Week: What It Is and How to Celebrate

national nurses week

National Nurses Week is here, which runs from May 6th to May 12th. Every year, this week gives us a chance to reflect on the heroic efforts of nurses across the country. If you’re not familiar with National Nurses Week, take a little time to read more about it below. We’ll walk you through a brief history, explain why it’s so important, and give you some ideas on how to celebrate the nurses in your life.

A little history 

In 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) first announced May 12th as International Nurse Day. The date was chosen because it’s the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, who is considered by many to be the founder of modern-day nursing. She directed nurses during the Crimean War, enforcing life-saving work policies that lead to safer, more effective standards of care.

In 1990, the American Nurses Association (ANA) expanded the holiday by designating May 6 to May 12 as National Nurses Week. The week starts with National Nurses Day on May 6 and ends with Nightingale’s birthday on May 12. Certain days throughout the week are dedicated to specific nursing specialties.

Why it matters 

Nurses make up one of the largest shares of the labor force. Their work can be incredibly stressful, emotionally draining, and physically demanding. National Nurses Week is a time to thank the nurses in your life for their contribution to our healthcare system. Nurses are heroes, and they should be celebrated for their accomplishments.

Fun ways to celebrate  

Here are some ideas to celebrate nurses during National Nurses Week: 

  • Put together a gift bag with lotion, snacks, pens, and other daily essentials.  
  • Treat them to a pizza party during their shift.  
  • Send them handwritten cards thanking them for everything they do.  
  • Host a luncheon or dinner with a slideshow showcasing their efforts.   
  • Submit an article highlighting their hard work to a local newspaper or website.  
  • Offer opportunities for career advancement, like continuing education and training seminars.

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