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Posted By: Debra A. Danforth, DNP, APRN, FAANP
May 04, 2021
I can't believe a year has gone by since I wrote about the 2020 Nurses Week theme. This year, the American Nurses Association (ANA) joined with the World Health Organization (WHO) and global colleagues in extending the 2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife into 2021 due to the impact of the pandemic.
Background of Nurses Week
It all started in 1953, when Dorothy Sutherland from the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposed a "Nurse Day" annually in October; however, that day was never enacted. Then in 1954, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Florence Nightingale's work in the Crimean War, the first Nurses Week took place from October 11 – 16. Finally, in 1974, the International Council of Nurses decided that May 12th, Florence Nightingale's birthday, would serve as "International Nurse Day." In 1982, President Ronald Reagan declared May 6th as "National Recognition Day for Nurses." A few years later, in 1993, the ANA Board of Directors declared May 6 – 12 "National Nurses Week." This year, the ANA has even extended Nurses Week into Nurses Month for all of May. They have the month split into weekly themes:
- Week 1 (May 1 – 8): Self-Care; focus on mental health and physical well-being for yourself and colleagues.
- Week 2 (May 9 – 15): Recognition; raise the visibility of nurses by honoring nurse heroes, innovators, and leaders.
- Week 3 (May 16 – 22): Professional Development; a free Webinar will be offered by the ANA on May 19th focused on the text: Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 4th edition.
- Week 4 (May 23 – 29): Community Engagement; focus on educating and engaging your community—in-person or virtually—to spread information on what nurses do and encourage them to support nurses now and in the future.
Here are some other special days this month:
- May 6th is National Nurses Day/National RN Recognition Day
- May 8th is National Student Nurses Day
- May 12th is International Nurse Day
Make sure to wish a nurse you may know a happy Nurses Week (or month!) and thank them for all they do, or even give them something to show your appreciation. To all of the nurses reading this: Thank you all for continued hard work during the pandemic—you are all my HEROES.
- American Nurses Association. About Nurses Month. anayearofthenurse.org/about-nurses-month/. Accessed May 4, 2021.