Nurses Week 2013: How to Celebrate

May 6, 2013 Updated: May 6, 2013

Nurses Week 2013: This week is marked for celebrating the critical role nurses play around the world.

Nurses are valued for their patience and hard work. Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and runs through May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, perhaps the most famous nurse ever.

How to Celebrate

The American Nurses Association has suggestions on how to celebrate the week.

Here are some suggestions:

-Invite a politician–local, state or federal –to accompany one or more nurses while on the job. Health care remains an important issue to voters. Politicians should be visible and accountable for their positions on health care. This offers good media coverage potential.

-Request a hearing before local government or arrange a “Town Hall” meeting on nursing’s concerns (adequate staffing, quality of care).

-Hold a special celebration or reception to recognize one or more nurses in your community for heroic acts, years of service to the community, exemplary courage, or commitment to the profession.

-Sponsor a community-wide event, such as a coloring or poem-writing contest for students. The children could acknowledge their favorite nurse, a famous nurse, or family member who is a nurse. The drawings or poems could be displayed in local schools, hospitals, nursing homes.

-Place an article in your state or local newspaper(s) or a community blog about National Nurses Week and the contributions of nurses.

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-Work cooperatively with hospitals, schools, and libraries to set up a special display for National Nurses Week using promotional materials, such as, pins, t-shirts, posters.


Different people and groups proposed different days to celebrate nurses, starting in 1953 with Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. She sent a proposal to then-President Dwight Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the next year, but the proclamation was never made.

Just over two decades later, the International Council of Nurses proclaimed that May 12 would be “International Nurse Day.” The same year, President Richard Nixon deemed a week in February as “National Nurse Week.” 

In 1982, the American Nurses Association proclaimed May 6 as “National Nurses Day,” after several elected officials, including New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared the day “Nurses Day.” The same year, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation proclaiming the day to be “National Recognition Day for Nurses.” 

In 1990, the board of the American Nurses Association expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration. 


Amid the celebration, it’s important to remember there’s still a shortage of nurses in the United States.

Registered nurses is the top occupation in terms of projected job growth through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A forecast in the American Journal of Medical Quality predicts a shortage of registered nurses in many states, for a total shortage of 918,232 registered nurses by 2030. 

The growth in the nursing sector will happen because of technological advances, as well as an increased emphasis on preventative care and an aging population that will require more healthcare services as they “live longer and more active lives,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthcare and social assistance, including nursing, is by far the fastest growing (projected) service-providing industry in the country, through 2020. 

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