“The Lady with the Lamp”

International Nurses Day (IND) is an international day annually celebrated around the world on May 12, to mark the contributions nurses make to society. May 12 is the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

Florence Nightingale was an English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by her during the Crimean War where she organized the tending to wounded soldiers.

She gave nursing a highly favorable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night.

International Nurses Day has been celebrated by the International Council of Nurses since 1965.

In 1953, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare official Dorothy Sunderland proposed that President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaim a “Nurses’ Day”. He didn’t approve it.

In May 1974, May 12 was chosen to celebrate International Nurses Day as it is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Every year, ICN prepares and distributes the International Nurses’ Day Kit. It contains educational and public information materials, for use by nurses everywhere.

National Student Nurses’ Day has been celebrated annually on May 8 since 1998.

This year’s theme as chosen by ICN is “NURSES: A VOICE TO LEAD — HEALTH IS A HUMAN RIGHT”

In the U.S. (National Nurses Week)

National Nurses Week was first observed from October 11-16, 1954 in honor of the centennial anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. In 1974, President Nixon proclaimed a “National Nurse Week”.

President Reagan signed a proposal officially designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses”. It is now known as National Nurses Day or National RN Recognition Day.

In 1990, the American Nurses Association (ANA) expanded the holiday into the current National Nurses Week celebrated from May 6-12. This year’s National Nurses Week’s theme is “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.”