All about National Nurses Week, May 6-12

American Nurses Association

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. These permanent dates enhance planning and position National Nurses Week as an established recognition event. As of 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day, to be celebrated annually. And as of 2003, National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday within National Nurses Week (May 6-12) each year. The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896. Each of ANA’s state and territorial nurses associations promotes the nursing profession at the state and regional levels. Each conducts celebrations on these dates to recognize the contributions that nurses and nursing make to the community. The ANA supports and encourages National Nurses Week recognition programs through the state and district nurses associations, other specialty nursing organizations, educational facilities, and independent health care companies and institutions. It’s been a long road to an official nurses’ recognition week. In 1981, ANA, along with various nursing organizations, rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through their congressman, Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.” In February 1982, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982, as “National Nurses Day.” The action affirmed a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.” In 1982, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation proclaiming “National Recognition Day for Nurses” to be May 6, 1982. In 1990, the ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6-12, 1991, as National Nurses Week. In 1993, the ANA Board of Directors designated May 6-12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years. In 1996, the ANA initiated “National RN Recognition Day” on May 6, to honor the nation’s indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year. The ANA encourages its state and territorial nurses associations and other organizations to acknowledge May 6 as “National RN Recognition Day.” In 1997, the ANA Board of Directors, at the request of the National Student Nurses Association, designated May 8 as National Student Nurses Day.

Author: Rachel Howell

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