CHARLOTTE, N.C. — National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12 in the United States. It's all about recognizing nurses across the country tasked with caring and supporting people through health and illness.
Now, more than ever, nurses nationwide are also turning to the public for support amid the coronavirus pandemic. Nurses, along with other health workers, are on the front line, battling the deadly virus each day. Health officials say you can help show support and appreciation for nurses and other health professionals by slowing the spread of COVID-19. That includes staying home as much as you can, keeping a safe distance, washing your hands often, covering your cough, and other good hygiene habits.
WCNC Charlotte is recognizing nurses across the Carolinas on social with #WCNCNurses and we're showcasing nurses in each of our newscasts during National Nurses Week.
Nursing is the nation's largest healthcare profession, with more than 3.8 million registered nurses nationwide. That's according to The American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Registered nurses work in hospitals, physicians' offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities. Others work in outpatient clinics and schools.
Since 1896, the American Nurses Association has been supporting and promoting the nursing profession. During National Nurses Week, ANA encourages recognition programs through the state and district nurses associations, other specialty nursing organizations, educational facilities, and independent health care companies and institutions.
You can also recognize National Nurses Week with a simple 'Thank You' or join the social media celebration using #NationalNursesDay.
ANA offers the following details regarding the history of National Nurses Week:
- 1953 Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower to proclaim a "Nurse Day" in October of the following year. The proclamation was never made.
- 1954 National Nurse Week was observed from October 11 - 16. The year of the observance marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's mission to Crimea. Representative Frances P. Bolton sponsored the bill for a nurse week. Apparently, a bill for a National Nurse Week was introduced in the 1955 Congress, but no action was taken. Congress discontinued its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.
- 1972 Again a resolution was presented by the House of Representatives for the President to proclaim "National Registered Nurse Day." It did not occur.
- 1974 In January of that year, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed that May 12 would be "International Nurse Day." (May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale.) Since 1965, the ICN has celebrated "International Nurse Day."
- 1974 In February of that year, a week was designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issued a proclamation.
- 1978 New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as "Nurses Day." Edward Scanlan, of Red Bank, N.J., took up the cause to perpetuate the recognition of nurses in his state. Mr. Scanlan had this date listed in Chase's Calendar of Annual Events. He promoted the celebration on his own.
- 1981 ANA, along with various nursing organizations, rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through their Congressman, Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as "National Recognition Day for Nurses."
- 1982 In February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982 as "National Nurses Day." The action affirmed a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as "National Recognition Day for Nurses."
- 1982 President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25, proclaiming "National Recognition Day for Nurses" to be May 6, 1982.
- 1990 The ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6 - 12, 1991, as National Nurses Week.
- 1993 The ANA Board of Directors designated May 6 - 12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years.
- 1996 The ANA initiated "National RN Recognition Day" on May 6, 1996, to honor the nation's indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year. The ANA encourages its state and territorial nurses associations and other organizations to acknowledge May 6, 1996 as "National RN Recognition Day."
- 1997 The ANA Board of Directors, at the request of the National Student Nurses Association, designated May 8 as National Student Nurses Day.