In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the second week of May “National Nurses Week.” The week of May 6th to May 12th is dedicated to nurses everywhere for their compassion and service, but it was originally started as International Nurse Day in remembrance of the work of Florence Nightingale. Florence Nightingale is considered by many to be the founder of the modern nursing profession. She served as a nurse during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the Crimean War. She is most noted for helping to establish the first nursing school in the world, St. Thomas’ Hospital in London which later became a part of King’s College. International Nurse Day occurs on Florence Nightingale’s birthday – May 12th.
National Nurses’ Week highlights the work of nurses in the United States. Some of the initiatives that nurses have undertook since they became a recognized and regulated profession in the U.S. include responding to disasters and times of crisis, including war, in the United States and in foreign countries. Nurses often volunteer their service if they are not called to act. Nurses in large cities can work with the homeless and with disenfranchised families to help provide basic medical care, advice, and family planning services. School nurses are tasked with caring for children and dispensing medications or giving first-aid care. It is easy to see within these examples the important role that nurses play in our society. If you know a nurse, you should wish them a Happy National Nurse Day or Week and perhaps do something nice to show that you care. Their service is often undervalued despite the fact that they frequently work hours that are just as long as those that doctors’ work if not longer, and have a great responsibility when it comes to people’s health.