Celebrate Nurses!

National Nurses Day is May 6 and National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6 to May 12. Learn more about the history of this celebration and use some of these celebratory ideas to help plan a celebration for your coworkers or yourself.


The American Nurses Association details the history of the holiday with highlights from each of the most notable years. The holiday was first proposed in 1953 by Dorothy Sutherland, although her suggestion was ignored. In 1972, a private organization, the International Council of Nurses, decided the birthday of Florence Nightingale, May 12, would be suitable for International Nurse Day. By 1982, National Recognition Day for Nurses had been set as May 6 by the president and the ANA. In 1993, the ANA made the week long holiday official, and it has been recognized on the current dates ever since.


Whether you decide to celebrate individually or as a community, be sure to spend time this week recognizing all that the nurses in your community do to help promote good health.

  • Health Fair – Set up a health fair at a local school, fairgrounds, or civic center offering information and screenings for common health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
  • Fundraiser – Host a fundraiser for a health issue or for a local hospital, shelter, or community health resource.
  • Displays – Set up displays about health issues such as nutrition, exercise, and preventative testing to use in nursing homes, schools, and community centers. Target the specific demographic likely to see the display and prominently feature that it is being provided by local nurses to celebrate National Nurses Week.
  • Organize a party for coworkers at the end of the week to celebrate the work you do. Have each person bring a food or drink item and perhaps a white elephant gift exchange with a nursing or medical theme.
  • Send literature to local newspapers and magazines and offer to set up interviews with nurses and administration if they wish to do a story about National Nurses Week.
  • Create pins, or purchase pins from the ANA, that proclaim the wearer is a nurse and/or something that proclaims it is Nurses Week.
  • School Outreach – Work with local schools to have students celebrate the week by coloring pictures that can be sent to local nurses and arrange to have nurses visit various classes to speak about the profession or health related issues.

How do you plan to celebrate the day or week? Does your employer celebrate each year or do you plan celebrations with coworkers? What is your favorite way to celebrate your profession?

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