National Nurses Day 2018

05/05/2018nurses daynursing681Views6Comments

Some might say that nurses are the spine of the healthcare system.  They work with doctors, help heal patients and educate the public on a daily basis.  The ones I know work hard, study hard and sleep little. Sometimes, a little recognition goes a long way.

In 1887, a job description for a nurse required they care for 50 patients, work 13-hour shifts and perform janitorial duties as well!  Additional bizarre regulations they were required to follow can be found at

May 6th is known as National Nurses Day; the beginning of National Nurses Week.  Every year the week is celebrated with different themes, honors nurses for what they do and concludes on Florence Nightingale’s birthday (May 12).  Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing.  Why?  She left a ground-breaking mark on the industry with her work on sanitation and healthcare.   In February 1855, during the Crimean War, more than 42 percent of patients died. The field hospital where she worked was overrun with rats, and cleanliness wasn’t a priority.  By June of the same year, with stricter hygiene rules, the mortality rate was reduced 40 percent.  Her 1859 book, “Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not”, became noteworthy for generations to come.  Even advice like, “Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day” apply today just as they did almost 160 years ago.

“Every nurse was drawn to nursing because of a desire to care, to serve, or to help.” —Christina Feist-Heilmeier, RN

According to, “The American Nurses Association (ANA) has always led efforts to celebrate nursing, ensuring that recognition is promoted as widely as possible; and in 1990 extended it to a week-long celebration of the work of the nation’s registered nurses, the largest of the health care professions.”

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring; all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” —Leo Buscaglia

Getting nurses recognized on a national level took quite a bit of time.

Back in 1953 a letter was sent to then-president Eisenhower proposing a day to recognize the profession.  The official announcement was not made.  However, the following year, people began celebrating the week on their own.  In 1974, President Nixon made the proclamation.  In 1982, Congress designated May 6thto be “National Recognition Day for Nurses”.  The proposal was signed by President Reagan.  And, in 1990 it was expanded to include the entire week.

Themes for the last four years include:

2014 – Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health

2015 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective

2016 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving Health Systems’ Resilience

2017 – Nurses: A voice to lead – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

The theme for 2018? Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.

Thank a nurse the next time you see one.

Chances are there was at least one present when you were brought into this world and you see them on a “regular” basis throughout your life.  Many choose the profession because they feel called to help others.  Those that work hard, study hard and sleep little should be celebrated.

For more information on nurses, visit your local hospital (hopefully for nothing too serious), or, for specific information about the history of Nurses Week, check out

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