Happy Nurses Week!

What is National Nurses Week?

What is National Nurses Week?
Joleen Sams

By: Joleen SamsFamily Nurse Practitioner

At last, National Nurses Week is finally here! As we enter this week of nursing celebrations, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at what Nurses Week is all about, why we celebrate, and the history of the holiday.

What is National Nurses Week?

Every year from May 6th to 12th, nurses are recognized for their service and dedication to caring for others and improving the health of patients nationwide through National Nurses Week. Throughout the week, healthcare organizations celebrate their teams, and you’ll even see nurses featured on the news. People across the nation thank the nurses that have made a difference in their lives. 

Nurses Week celebrates the effort, dedication, and sacrifice nurses make every day. Nurses are essential members of America’s healthcare workforce who provide care through every stage of life, working with patients at their most intimate and vulnerable moments. Nurses Week offers a chance to highlight and celebrate nurses for all we do. 

National Nurses Week 2023 

This year, National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6 – May 12. According to the American Nurses Association, the theme is “You Make a Difference.” The week is just a part of the larger National Nurses Month, which is celebrated from May 1 to the 31st. 

Per the ANA, there are 4 weekly focus areas they are highlighting this year.

  1. May 1-7: Self-Care
  2. May 8-14: Recognition
  3. May 15 -20: Professional Development
  4. May 22-31: Community Engagement

History of National Nurses Week

Several individuals, organizations, and political leaders contributed to the efforts that have evolved into Nurses Week as it is celebrated today. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has compiled several facts about the history of Nurses Week: 

  • 1953: The first effort to establish a recognition day for nurses was when Dorothy Parker of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proclamation to then-President Eisenhower. He never signed the proclamation.
  • 1954: A National Nurse Week was observed October 11-16 in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s work during the Crimean war. 
  • From the 1950s to 1970s, several bills were introduced to congress, but none made it through the legislative process. 
  • 1974: The International Council of Nurses declared May 12 International Nurses Day. In the US, President Nixon signed a proclamation recognizing National Nurse Week. 
  • 1982: The ANA declared May 6 as National Nurses Day, which Ronald Reagan signed as an official proclamation
  • 1990:  The ANA extended the celebration to “Nurses Week,” and the dates May 6-12 became permanent as of 1994. 

Within Nurses Week, National Student Nurse day is May 8, and National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday that falls during Nurses Week.  

We are celebrating Nurses ALL MONTH LONG!

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Why Nurses Week is Celebrated

The ANA and other nursing organizations promote Nurses Week as a time to thank and recognize nurses across the country for their dedication to the profession and patients we serve. Healthcare organizations throw celebrations, and the public is encouraged to “thank a nurse” who’s made a difference in their lives. 

Nurses Week is our time to shine. Let’s lift each other up and recognize the good in what we do daily. It’s easy to dwell on everything that needs to be changed, but for one week, I challenge you to look for the good. Recognize your nurse besties, mentors, and the nurses who make a difference in your day. We’ve compiled the 7 Best Gifts for Nurses Week.   

How Nurses Week is Celebrated 

Every healthcare organization celebrates its nurses a bit differently. Many hold events throughout the week to recognize their nurses, and meals or gifts for the entire nursing team are common. 

Managers and administration plan and prepare for months to make the week special. If you’re stuck trying to decide the best way to show your appreciation, check out some of the these Nurses Week appreciation ideas!

In the community, you’ll see news reports highlighting extraordinary nurses who go above and beyond for their communities and patients. In addition, many local businesses also create special offers for nurses – watch your local news and social media outlets to see what might be available near you.  

Several major sports teams offer “Nurses Night Out” events. It’s a great time to grab your favorite group of nurses and enjoy an evening of fun and relaxation. Some teams, like the Red Sox, have a nurse throw the first pitch

Nursing has always been a profession that needs more than just your time and knowledge. Nursing requires heart, passion, and dedication to serving others. Nurses Week allows the public to acknowledge and thank nurses for the work they choose every day. It’s a chance for us to pause and thank the nurses who have made a difference in our careers.