National Nurses Week 2021
Celebrate the Contributions of Nurses May 6th – May 12th
Get a jump on planning your celebration with our special Nurse’s Week resources. We’ve also provided links to the official resources and guidelines of the International Council of Nurses and the American Nursing Association.
National Nurses Week is an event to mark the contributions all the nurses in the world that keep the frontline of healthcare running. Beginning on May 6 and culminating on International Nurses Day (May 12), Nurses Week was created and advocated by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) as early as 1953 and has been celebrated regularly since 1965.
Nurses Week and International Nurses Day are now worldwide observances, with different regions celebrating them in their own unique ways. In the UK, an annual service is held at Westminster Abbey with a symbolic “passing of the lamp” ceremony. Australia has a Nurse of the Year award ceremony and gives out several other awards throughout the week. The US and Canada added RN Recognition Day to the mix (May 6), but still officially recognize May 6 – 12 as National Nurses Week.
National Nurses Week culminates on May 12, which is also the birthday of the legendary Florence Nightingale, British social reformer, statistician, and founder of modern nursing. Her work training and organizing battlefield nurses during the Crimean War (1853-1856) revolutionized how the world perceived nursing and turned it into a bona fide profession.
The first Nurses Week in the US was held October 11 – 16, 1954, to honor the 100th anniversary of her fateful mission. In 1974, President Nixon proclaimed it a National Nurses Week. In 1982, President Reagan declared May 6 to be RN Recognition Day.
By 1990 the American Nurses Association (ANA) had expanded the holiday to include the familiar May 6 – 12 week of Nightingale’s birthday. No matter how and when it is celebrated, Nurses Week is an enduring symbol of her legacy and the immeasurable impact nurses can have on society.
Nursing is consistently one of the most in-demand, emotionally stressful occupations, and they comprise one of the largest shares of the labor force. Add in the complexity of the healthcare challenges the world is now facing, and nurses are once again proving their indispensable role in our daily lives. Nurses Week 2021 is a canvas for you to show your appreciation with the support of thousands of other healthcare organizations across the world.
Keeping nurses mentally healthy and engaged with their work is vital to not only to the patients being treated, but to the well-being of our global community. The work nurses do every day is worthy of the highest regard any day of the week. Healthcare is often a hectic, exhausting job. That’s why we take an entire week to slow down and pull the curtain back on what the contributions of nurses really add up to.
A full year into the pandemic, and it can seem like connecting on a human level is more difficult than ever. It’s important to take a breath amid all the chaos and remember why we’re doing it in the first place – to keep each other safe. To, as a surgeon in Florence Nightingale’s Crimean War mission once put it, "embrace in [our] solicitude the sick of three armies".
The ANA and World Health Organization declared 2020 to be the global “Year of the Nurse”, and decided to extend the theme into 2021 in light of their impact on the pandemic. Nurses need to know, now more than ever, that their work keeping their communities safe is appreciated and valued. Building certainty and structure around an official event can be comforting and give an unfettered line of communication in times of stress.
Recognition can be as simple as a sincere compliment, a handwritten card of thanks, or anything that fits your current situation. However you recognize your RNs on National Nurses Week, make it count and show them your heart. Every single organization on the planet depends on their workforces being healthy and ready to work, and nurses are our frontline defenders.