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May 6, 2016

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National Nurses Day

May 6, 2016

National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6.  On this day we raise awareness of all nurse contributions and commitments and acknowledge the important role nurses play in society.  This day is also the first day of National Nurses Week and is sometimes known as National RN Recognition Day.

National Nurses Week begins May 6 and ends on May 12, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910).  Florence Nightingale was a celebrated English social reformer, statistician and the founder of modern nursing.  She became well-known while taking care of the wounded soldiers during  the Crimean War.  Nightingale was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” because of  her habit of making rounds at night.


Plan a special celebration (luncheon, dinner, or reception) to network and celebrate together. You may want to use this time to honor some of your colleagues. Write letters to local institutions asking them to nominate their outstanding nurse. You can include nurses from practice, education or any other areas. List their names in the program and recognize them with plaques and certificates. Note: Some regions announce their “Nurse of the Year” at this time.


It was in 1953 when an employee at the United States Department of Health, Dorothy Sutherland, sent a letter to President Eisenhower proposing a National Nurses Day.  The official proclamation was not made.  The following year people began celebrating National Nurses Week on their own.

In 1974, President Nixon proclaimed a “National Nurse Week.”  In 1981, a resolution was initiated by nurses in New Mexico to have May 6th declared “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”  This proposal was promoted by the ANA Board of Directors.  In 1982 the United States Congress designated May 6th to be “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”  The proposal was signed by President Reagan.  It was later expanded by the ANA Board of Directors in 1990 to a week-long celebration (May 6-12) known as “National Nurses Week.”

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