National Nurses Day is a significant observance that initiates National Nurses Week from May 6th and concludes on May 12th, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. This noteworthy day is set aside to give thanks and acknowledge the persistent efforts, kindness, and dedication displayed by nurses worldwide.

This day underscores their integral role in the healthcare structure, and serves as a chance to reflect on the tremendous influence nurses have on countless lives every single day. So, let’s express our deep gratitude and celebrate these everyday superheroes.

History of National Nurses Day

National Nurses Day, which falls on May 6th annually, is a day dedicated to recognizing the crucial role that nurses play in our healthcare system around the world. This important day also commences National Nurses Week, which concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is credited for establishing the foundations of contemporary nursing.

Though the importance of nurses in healthcare was long recognized, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that steps were taken to officially acknowledge their contributions. Efforts to create a “Nurse Day” were initiated as early as 1953, and were continued in the 1970s, but both attempts did not succeed in their legislative pursuits.

The genesis of today’s National Nurses Day can be traced back when U.S. President Richard Nixon declared the week of May 6 as ‘National Hospital Week.’ Then, a major breakthrough occurred in 1982 when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution, and President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation, officially designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”

A few years later, in 1990, the American Nurses Association made the celebration even bigger by declaring May 6-12 as “National Nurses Week.” From that time forward, National Nurses Day on May 6 has annually marked the beginning of this special week.

The celebration of this day and week provides an opportunity to honor and highlight the relentless efforts, dedication, and commitment demonstrated by nurses across the nation. It’s a time to appreciate the often unrecognized but indispensable role that nurses play in maintaining public health. For instance, their pivotal role in responding to health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic has brought global attention to their invaluable contribution.

National Nurses Day Timeline

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale and 38 volunteer nurses were sent to the Crimean War, where they improved the sanitary conditions of the battlefield hospital.

World War II

Nurses played a vital role during World War II, helping to tend wounded soldiers on all fronts.

Creation of National Nurses Day

The proposal to recognize nurses officially was first introduced to President Richard Nixon.

International Nurse Day

the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed that May 12, a day to celebrate nursing worldwide in honor of Florence Nightingale's birthday.

Expansion of Nurse Week

The ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6-12 as 'National Nurses Week'.

Designation of May 6

The designation of May 6 as 'National Recognition Day for Nurses' was made permanent by the ANA Board of Directors.

Year of the Nurse and Midwife

In recognition of the hard work of nurses, the World Health Organization extends the 'Year of the Nurse and Midwife' into 2020.

Ideas to Celebrate National Nurses Day

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Healthcare Heroes Gathering

Organize a special gathering for all the nurses in your community or institution. You can prepare some food, play music, and even have contests or games. Ensure to make this event all about appreciating and recognizing their hard work.

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Care Packages

Create special care packages for nurses, filled with items that they love or that could help them relax after a tough day. This could include snacks, books, beauty or wellness products, or even gift cards.

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Social Media Appreciation

Take to social media to express your admiration and gratitude. Share stories about local nurses, post inspirational quotes highlighting the importance of their work, and encourage others to do the same.

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Nurse Appreciation Art

Help children make cards, banners, or other pieces of art expressing their gratitude to nurses. This could be a fun activity that also helps teach kids about the importance of healthcare professionals.

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Hero Awards Ceremony

Hold an awards ceremony to recognize outstanding contributions from nurses in your community or hospital. You can set different categories like 'Community Hero' nurse, 'Elder Care Hero' nurse, etc.

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Thank You Note Campaign

Start a thank you note campaign where community members can write heartfelt messages for nurses. Collect these and distribute them at local hospitals and clinics.

8 Interesting Facts About Nurses


Nurses walk a lot

On average, a nurse walks around four to five miles during a 12-hour shift, which is more than what an average person does per day.


One of the most trusted professions

For 18 years running, nurses have been voted as the most trusted professionals in America, according to an annual Gallup poll.


Florence Nightingale

Known as the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale established the principles and traditions that continue to define the nursing profession.


World War impact

World Wars I and II had significant impacts on the nursing profession. With so many soldiers injured in war, the demand for nurses drastically increased, leading to an enhanced respect and recognition for the profession.


More RNs than any other health profession

In the US, Registered Nurses comprise the largest health profession with more than 3.9 million registered.


Nursing Pledge

Just like doctors, nurses also have a pledge known as "The Nightingale Pledge," named after Florence Nightingale. It is a statement of the ethics and principles of the nursing profession.


Male Nurses

Though the field is still dominated by women, the number of male nurses is on the rise. In the US, about 12% of Registered Nurses are men.


Symbol of the Nurse

The nursing symbol, known as the Caduceus, consists of a staff with a serpent coiled around it. This symbol is associated with Mercury, the Roman god of commerce, eloquence, travel, thievery, and can sometimes represent trickery or deceit.

National Nurses Day FAQs

Next National Nurses Day Dates

Year Date Day
2023 May 6th Saturday
2024 May 6th Monday
2025 May 6th Tuesday
2026 May 6th Wednesday
2027 May 6th Thursday
What is the pattern? Every May 6th

National Nurses Day Word Search

  • Caregiver
  • Hospital
  • Nurses
  • Health
  • Nightingale
  • Dedication