Checking vitals. Soothing a sick child. Performing critical life-saving procedures. Without a doubt, nurses are a critical component of our healthcare system. Each year, we honor their strength, tireless efforts, and unwavering commitment to humanity by celebrating National Nurses Week, which includes National Nurses Day in the U.S. and International Nurses Day worldwide.
National Nurses Week in the United States began with the creation of International Nurses Day, designated by The International Council of Nurses, an organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1974, the Council saw a need to recognize the contributions of nurses worldwide, and wanted to designate a day in their honor.
20 years later in 1994, the day expanded into a weeklong celebration in the United States, where each state’s nursing associates hold events and promote awareness of the importance of nurses and their role in providing the utmost care for their patients. These events include workplace celebrations, news segments featuring nurses, activities, and more.
In the United States, National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6 to May 12. International Nurses Day is May 12, in honor of Florence Nightingale, whose birthday is the same day.
Known as the “founder of modern nursing,” Florence Nightingale contributed much to the profession, beginning with her managerial role during the Crimean War. During this time, she not only cared for injured soldiers, but trained other nurses and medical professionals to do the same. She also helped reduce infection by improving hygiene standards.
Later, she continued her nursing efforts by establishing a nursing school and pushing for improved healthcare standards. She was also a strong advocate for women, promoting their acceptance into the workplace and pushing to eliminate prostitution laws that disproportionately affected women.
Each year, the International Council of Nurses selects a theme that focuses on specific issues and needs within the nursing profession. This year in 2023, the theme is Our Nurses. Our Future. According to ICN president Dr. Pamela Cipriano, the theme “sets out what ICN wants for nursing in the future in order to address the global health challenges and improve global health for all. We need to learn from the lessons of the pandemic and translate these into actions for the future that ensure nurses are protected, respected and valued.”
This theme is especially pertinent in a time when nurses are picking up the slack from doctors who are increasingly leaving the field.
Whether you personally know a nurse or not, there are many things you can do to show your support for nurses nationwide! Here are some ideas to get you started.
Express your gratitude and appreciation for nurses via a heartfelt “Thank you.” Whether you do this in your doctor’s office while getting a routine checkup or when you see a nurse in scrubs at the grocery store, they’re sure to appreciate it! And for those who have friends and family who work in nursing, sending a handwritten note can make that thank you extra special.
If you want to go beyond a simple “thank you,” sending a thoughtful gift is a great way to show your appreciation. This could range from a nursing-themed gift to something personal you know they’d enjoy, like a gift card to their favorite restaurant or store.
There’s been a trend online where folks send a “virtual coffee” (usually a small amount of cash from $5-$10) via Venmo or CashApp to their friends or social media followers just to express their appreciation. Follow this trend and send a “coffee” to your favorite nurse. After working all those long hours, they could probably use it!
Since many nurses work long hours, they often don’t have time to cook nutritious meals. Sending a homemade meal or using a food delivery service to send a healthy meal goes a long way and puts some time back into their busy schedules.
Last but not least, you can show you support all that nurses do by supporting local, state, and national initiatives that work to advance the profession of nursing and medical conditions in general.
FemmePharma has been helping women navigate menopause for over two decades. No matter where you are in your journey, you deserve to have knowledgeable, intimate healthcare partners to help you feel your best. Explore our other articles, podcast episodes with women’s health experts, and products to ease your transition into menopause.