What is Nurses Week?
Both National Nurses Day and what has become the “Week of the Nurse” are publicly celebrated observances to show appreciation for these essential workers and to recognize the nursing profession’s vital and unique contributions to health care and society at large.
As a nation and community, we have a lot to be thankful for. Nurses bring the compassionate, personal touch to medical care and often are the first and last person to care and advocate for us through all of life’s transitions.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was not the first nurse in history, but her philosophies and living example elevated the profession to what it has become today. In the 1850s, Nightingale took the initiative to save lives and slow the spread of cholera by improving hygiene standards in a London hospital. She then became known as “the Lady with the Lamp” on the front lines of the Crimean War, where she led a team of nurses to provide care and improve horrid conditions—personally making nightly rounds to check on wounded soldiers who had, before then, laid badly neglected.
Even though she became ill with Crimean fever in her 30s and never recovered from her disability, Nightingale continued advocating from home as an influential reformer, statistician, and international consultant known for her innovative programs to alleviate suffering, improve health conditions, and reduce rates of infection and death. In 1860, she founded a nursing school based on her principles—the early model for evidence-based nursing education today.
So please, make sure to say thank you and do something special for a nurse in your life, during Nurses Week—May 6 to May 12—and any day. Nurses are our tireless frontline heroes and deserve our support, because we all rely on them to make our world a healthier, more comfortable place.