National Nurses Day, also known as National RN Recognition Day, is always celebrated on May 6th and opens National Nurses Week. National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, the birth date of Florence Nightingale.
National Nurses Week is one of the nation's largest health care events, recognizing the contributions and commitments nurses make and educating the public about the significant work they perform. The American Nurses Association (ANA) supports and encourages National Nurses Week through state and district nurses associations, educational facilities, and independent health care companies and institutions. The week-long celebration is designed to accommodate the variety of schedules nurses
The history of Nurses Day can be traced back to 1953 when Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower to proclaim a "Nurse Day" in October of the following year. The proclamation was never made, but the following year National Nurses Week was observed from October 11 – 16, marking the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's mission to Crimea.
In 1974, President Nixon proclaimed a "National Nurse Week." In 1981, a resolution was initiated by nurses in New Mexico to have May 6th declared "National Recognition Day for Nurses." This proposal was promoted by the ANA Board of Directors and in 1982, with a joint resolution, the United States Congress designated May 6th to be "National Recognition Day for Nurses." The proposal was signed by President Reagan, making May 6 the official "National Recognition Day for Nurses." It was later expanded by the ANA Board of Directors in 1990 to a week-long celebration (May 6-12) known as "National Nurses Week."
International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on May 12th of each year. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) commemorates this day each year with the production and distribution of the International Nurses' Day Kit which includes educational and public information materials for use by nurses everywhere. The ICN has celebrated International Nurses Day since 1965.