National Nurses Week (May 6-12) celebrates the contributions and sacrifices of nurses everywhere and reminds us to thank these extraordinary medical professionals who keep us healthy. National Nurses Week has evolved into a month-long celebration of the nursing profession to allow for more significant opportunities to promote understanding and appreciation of the invaluable contributions of nurses. This year, the American Nurses Association (ANA) selected the theme “Nurses Make a Difference” to honor the varying roles of nurses and their positive impact on our lives.
Nursing today is not just one profession but a wide variety of specialties linked by a common foundation in nursing education and theory. In the early days of nursing, there have always been visionary leaders who saw a need and then worked to fill it, creating a professional niche for others who shared their passion. As a result, many nurses have been influential in changing the course of nursing and founding organizations that impacted the world. Some are known globally, while others worked on a regional basis. We salute all the hard-working, compassionate, and visionary nurses shaping the future of healthcare.
Notable Nurses and the History of Nurses Week
The ANA has supported the work of nurses since 1896, but the first day honoring nurses was in 1954. Originally held in October, the official day honoring nurses moved to its permanent place in May of 1974. The group stepped up its support in 1990 to honor nurses for an entire week each year. The celebration is a time “to recognize the vast contributions and positive impact of America’s 4 million registered nurses,” according to the ANA, which first declared May 6-May 12 National Nurses Week back in 1993. It always starts on May 6 and concludes on May 12 to coincide with the birth date of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), often considered the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale was born into elite social circles and was famous for treating soldiers in the Crimean War. She was instrumental in advancing the nursing profession, and in 1860 she founded the first science-based nursing school in the world.
Below are just a few more nurses who made a difference in nursing history.
Florence Wald (1917-2008)
Florence Wald is known as the mother of the modern hospice movement. As a nurse, she was troubled by how terminally patients were treated and became interested in palliative care after hearing a lecture on the topic by a British physician. At that time, Florence was the dean of the Yale School of Nursing, and she reportedly worked on updating the program to make students more aware of end-of-life issues. In 1966, Florence stepped down from her position to found the Connecticut Hospice, the first such program in America. Today, of course, hospice programs are prevalent, and all nurses are trained to advocate for their patients’ dignity, freedom from pain, and right to make autonomous decisions.
Clara Barton (1821-1912)
Clara Barton had no formal training as a nurse, but she became one of the most famous nurses in U.S. history. In addition, she was an abolitionist and a women’s suffrage advocate. When wounded Civil War soldiers flooded makeshift hospitals, Barton started to care for the injured. She then joined the Army to care for wounded soldiers at the war front. After the war, Barton went to Europe to recuperate, where Barton learned about the International Red Cross. Upon returning home, she founded the American Red Cross.
Virginia Henderson (1897-1996)
Virginashaped nursing education by applying her Need Theory, which stated the goal of nursing is to enable the patient to achieve independence as quickly as possible. She promoted this theory through her teaching and publications, especially her revision of the “Textbook of the Principles and Practices of Nursing” (1939) and “Basic Principles of Nursing Care” (1972).
Join Assisted in Celebrating Nurses
Every year during Nurses Week, Assisted takes the opportunity to recognize the significant positive impact on our patients and their loved ones. Nursing is the most trusted of all professions, in part, because of the values nurses live by every day. We are all indebted to nurses for their unwavering commitment to patients, communities, and our health care systems. Regardless of what field of nursing they work in or their level of education, all nurses selflessly help their patients pursue health and wellbeing. Be sure to take the time to thank the nurse who cares for you or your loved one.
Join our team of high-quality, dedicated nursing professionals who make a difference. Check out our available positions at www.AssistedCares.com/Careers/ or call 800-949-6555.