May 12th

International Nurses Day -

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Recognized annually on May 12th, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, who is acknowledged as the pioneer of contemporary nursing, International Nurses Day is a significant observance. This day is a tribute to the invaluable dedication and relentless service of nurses in our healthcare systems.

The day not only honors their contributions towards societal well-being, but also acts as a medium to shed light on the difficulties they encounter and appeal for support in enhancing the nursing profession.

History of International Nurses Day

Every year, on May 12th, we celebrate International Nurses Day. This day coincides with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is often hailed as the mother of modern nursing.

International Nurses Day was instituted by the International Council of Nurses (ICN), in recognition of the vital role that nurses play in providing health care. Interestingly, the proposal for a day to honor nurses first came in 1953 from Dorothy Sutherland, an officer with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She suggested to President Dwight D. Eisenhower the idea of a “Nurse Day,” but the proposal was not approved.

Fast forward to 1965, the ICN recognized May 12th as a special day to appreciate nurses globally and their contributions to different societies, thus formalizing International Nurses Day.

In 1974, ICN officially selected the date May 12 for celebrating International Nurses Day, commemorating the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, whose innovative work in nursing during the Crimean War is well acknowledged.

Each year, the ICN prepares International Nurses Day kits for use by nurses across the globe. These kits, replete with educational and public information materials, are designed for individual nurses, health care organizations, and even for public use.

Over the years, the importance of International Nurses Day has amplified, especially amidst global health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, where nurses have been at the forefront of health care. To honor their crucial role, the World Health Organisation (WHO) rightfully declared 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”.

International Nurses Day Timeline

Nursing in Ancient Rome

During the period of the Roman Empire, wealthy Roman matrons often had personal slaves who served as their nurses.

Florence Nightingale's Influence

Florence Nightingale and a team of nurses improved the unsanitary conditions at a British base hospital during the Crimean War.

Florence Nightingale School

Florence Nightingale established a nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London, which marked the beginning of professional nursing with fully trained nurses.

American Red Cross

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross, providing training programs for nurses who would provide care during wartime and natural disasters.

International Nurses Day Established

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) first introduces International Nurses Day to honour nurses worldwide.

Date Determined

12th of May selected as the date for International Nurses Day. The day is the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

COVID19 Pandemic

Nurses play a crucial role during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing frontline care to patients and demonstrating the importance of the nursing profession.

Ideas to Celebrate International Nurses Day

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Gift Hampers

Prepare gift hampers filled with items that nurses would appreciate, such as comfortable shoes, hand sanitizers, lotions, healthy snacks, and handwritten notes thanking them for their service.

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Host a Fundraiser

Arrange a charity event or a fundraiser in honor of International Nurses day. The proceeds could be donated to a nursing organization or used to provide resources for a local hospital.

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Highlight Nurses on Social Media

Use your social media platforms to highlight the important work that nurses do. Share personal stories (with permission), organize online thank-you notes campaign, or post informative content about the contribution of nurses to society.

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Food Delivery

Treat a nurse to a thoughtful and much-deserved surprise by arranging a food delivery to their workplace or home. You could consider sending a breakfast spread, a hearty lunch, or a dessert platter to share with colleagues.

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Educational Webinars

Organize educational webinars on topics of interest for nurses. This could provide a platform for knowledge sharing and could be a way of giving back to the community.

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Community Thank You

Encourage your community to join in the celebration. This could involve organizing small events like a candle-lighting ceremony or a parade (as safety permits) to pay tribute to our nurses.

8 Interesting Facts About Nurses


The Growth of the Nursing Profession

Nursing is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses is going to grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026.


Nurses Outnumber Doctors

The global ratio of Nurses to Doctors is approximately 3:1. This means there are three times as many nurses than doctors in the world.


Nurses walk a lot

During an average 12-hour work shift, a nurse walks about 5 miles, which is roughly the same distance as walking across the Brooklyn Bridge 3 times.


The Most Trusted Profession

Nursing has been voted the most trustworthy profession in America for 18 years running in Gallup polls.


Nursing and the American Red Cross

90 percent of the American Red Cross's workforce is comprised of nurses.


Male Nurses in the Profession

Though the nursing profession predominantly comprises females, the share of registered male nurses has been increasingly growing and currently at around 10%.


Nursing Specialization

There are over 200 nursing specializations, including pediatric nursing, neonatal nursing, critical care nursing, surgical nursing, and more.


Symbol of Nursing

The symbol associated with nursing is the 'Caduceus'- a staff with two intertwined snakes, originally related to the Greek god Hermes. It symbolizes negotiation and balance.

International Nurses Day FAQs

Next International Nurses Day Dates

Year Date Day
2023 May 12th Friday
2024 May 12th Sunday
2025 May 12th Monday
2026 May 12th Tuesday
2027 May 12th Wednesday
What is the pattern? Every May 12th

International Nurses Day Word Search

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  • Nightingale
  • Emergency