For almost 40 years, National Nurses Week has been celebrated in the United States from May 6 through May 12 (Florence Nightingale’s birthday). But this year there have been a few changes.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic exploded across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) in early 2019 designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, honoring the extraordinary accomplishments and importance of nurses and midwives worldwide.
Which brings us to 2021. Because of the impact of the pandemic throughout 2020, the organizations that make up the American Nurses Association (ANA) Enterprise have joined with the WHO and other global groups to make several changes for 2021:
- National Nurses Week has been extended through the month of May 2021
- The Year of the Nurse and Midwife has been extended through the year 2021
From the ANA Enterprise website: “Now more than ever, we need to support and recognize nurses for their steadfast commitment to meeting the needs of patients and their communities every day. We encourage you to promote nurses’ health and well-being and honor them in any way you can.” We couldn’t agree more.
How We See It
Nurses Week offers patients, colleagues, health care professionals, family members, and a grateful public the opportunity to honor you - the women and men who work tirelessly to keep your patients healthy, save lives, and find new ways to improve the quality of life for everyone you care for.
But that’s just the beginning. Many of you are also teachers, communicators, problem-solvers, team players, leaders, and innovators who work in a broad range of specialties, roles, and work settings. For all you do, we sincerely and respectfully want to say “thank you” during Nurses Week, Nurses Month, the year 2021 – and every week, month and year to come.
And now for a little fun. Want to amaze your friends and colleagues with the depth of your knowledge about Nurses Week, nursing history, and why nurses rock? Read on.
Nurses Week Trivia
- The (un)official color of Nurses Week is blue. Blue represents depth, stability, trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, and intelligence. It’s well-known that soothing, calming shades of blue can lower blood pressure and ease anxiety. Caribbean blue scrubs are still a favorite of nurses in many hospitals and health care settings.
- Nurses Week was almost the week that wasn’t. In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower was repeatedly asked to declare a national nursing celebration but refused. It took another 21 years until President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation establishing National Nurses Week in 1974. In later years, May 6 was established as National Nurses Day, May 8 became National Student Nurses and School Nurses Day, and May 12 was designated International Nurses Day.
- National Nurses Week is recognized around the world. In the United Kingdom the Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service held in Westminster Abbey includes a symbolic passing of the lamp of knowledge. In China, nurses reaffirm the Nightingale Pledge every year. The Australian Nurse of the Year Award honors and spotlights excellence in the nursing profession throughout Australia.
- Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) wasn’t the only nursing trailblazer. Clara Barton (1821-1912) was a hospital nurse during the American Civil War who became an advocate for civil and women’s voting rights and eventually founded the American Red Cross. Virginia Henderson (1897-1996) was a pioneer in defining the nursing profession, starting with creating a list of symptoms and conditions (including bodily functions such as sleeping, eating, breathing, and others) that required a nurse’s care. And Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) was a pioneer in advancing more humane treatment for mentally ill patients in America.
- Nurses and midwives often make up more than 50% of the health care workforce. Nurses do their work on the front lines of care and may be the only local health care providers in some developing countries. Nurses don’t just make a difference in the lives of their patients, but often play an important role in the life of the community. Because of who they are and the locations where they work, nurses have always and will continue to play a vital role in improving public health outcomes across the world.
At CCI, we believe every day is a great day to honor the compassion, commitment, and professionalism of nurses everywhere. Not only do we love working with you, but we also appreciate your willingness to share your experiences and expertise with each of us. If there is anything we can do to help you prepare your students to become successful, confident parents, please call us at 800.476.2253 any time.