Celebrate Nurses Day 5/12

May is officially here and springtime is in full swing all across the country. That means we are quickly approaching an important holiday in the healthcare world: International Nurses Day.

What is Nurses Day?

During the entire month of May, we have the opportunity to bring attention to certified nurses everywhere and show appreciation for their contribution to our healthcare system. These essential workers play a crucial part in the world but their hard work is often forgotten or taken for granted. National Nurses Day, and National Nurses Week, allow us to shift our attention to these well-deserving workers and show our gratitude for their hard work and dedication. The date of May 12th was chosen as it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, a pioneer in modern medicine. 

When is Nurses Day?

May 1-31: National Nurses Month

May 6: First day of National Nurses Week

May 8: National Student Nurses Day

May 10: National School Nurse Day

May 12: International Nurses Day

Why is Nurses Day Important?

A nurse helps to promote health and wellness in our society by sharing education and resources about disease prevention, healthy lifestyles, and healthcare for all. Nurses do not just help in crisis events and emergencies; they are crucial to building supported lifestyles to prevent unnecessary suffering. 

Nursing has always been an essential part of our societies all across the world. They work long hours with demanding schedules to provide quality care to their patients. They are often the first point of contact and go to extreme lengths to walk their patients through some of their most difficult days. Even through tremendously challenging circumstances, they continue to show up and save lives. 

Burnout and the Impact of Covid-19

Burnout in the healthcare profession, though it has always been significantly higher than in other jobs, is becoming increasingly problematic among nurses. It is been shown to be the leading cause for nurses leaving their jobs or feeling extremely unsatisfied in their jobs. 

The Covid-19 pandemic heightened the stakes overall and put tremendous pressure on nurses worldwide. We saw how critically our lives depended on their service and also how devastating it was for their physical and mental well-being. They showed resilience and dedication as they waded through months of staff shortages, lack of PPE and other supplies, long hours, and exhausting schedules, and putting their health at risk as they cared for sick patients. Through this, we saw a significant focus put on mental health support for nurses to deal with the stress and pressure they experienced. The ANA, during May, highlights focus areas to care for nurses and provide the support and resources they need in their jobs. 

The History of Nurses Day

When these national holidays come around each year we often celebrate them without giving much thought as to how they came to be. The history of National Nurses Day and its origin date back over a century and show us the fascinating way it became what it is today. Here are some of the important dates in the history of National Nurses Day:

1820: Florence Nightingale is born on May 12, and will later be known by many as the founder of modern nursing.

1860: In London, England, Florence Nightingale establishes the first professional nursing school and further cemented her impact on the nursing profession today. 

1953: “Nurses Day” is proposed to President Eisenhower by Dorothy Sutherland, but no action is taken.

1954: Despite not having an official proclamation, the first National Nurses Week is observed in the United States from October 11 to October 16th. This is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nightingale's service to the soldiers in the Crimean War. 

1965: The International Council of Nurses (ICN) declares International Nurses Day to be May 12th in honor of Nightingale's birthday.

1974: An official proclamation is signed by President Nixon designating May 6 to May 12 to be celebrated at National Nurses Week. 

1990: The American Nurses Association (ANA) expands the celebration of nurses week to a month-long event, and chooses May as National Nurses Month.

Celebrate Nurses Day

You understand now what Nurse's Day is, how it came to be, and why it is important - Now what? It's time to celebrate! Here are 5 ways to join in on the fun and celebrate the nurses in your life in ways they will appreciate!

  1. Thank a Nurse: Sometimes a simple “thank you” means more than any other token of gratitude for something like nurse appreciation day. Gifts are wonderful, but it is nice to know that others feel you are making a difference in their lives when you work in a healthcare job. One way to say thank you is by making a group greeting card from Kudoboard. It is quick and easy and allows you and others to contribute messages, photos, gifs, or videos onto one board. Once it's finished the link is emailed to your favorite nurse to enjoy. You even have the option to have the board printed into a hardbound book or high-resolution poster if they want something tangible to keep forever. 
  1. Volunteer: A meaningful way to honor nurses in May is to volunteer your time at a hospital or other health organization. The Red Cross can help you locate local opportunities to volunteer in your community. It benefits nurses and also helps society to understand and appreciate how hard they work.
  1. Give a Gift: Who doesn't love a gift? Gifts are a great way to appreciate nurses and show them you care. If you aren't sure what to give check out this list for 10 popular gift ideas to recognize a nurse in your life. 
  1. Donate Money: Find a local healthcare need in your area or go to the ANA's website to donate directly to their foundation. Here is what they have to say about donating to their cause: “The American Nurses Foundation is dedicated to transforming the nation’s health through the power of nursing. We find and fund new ways of solving problems, generating new ideas and tools, and laying the framework to promote a more positive experience for both nurses and patients. However, to do so we need your help.”
  1. Celebrate Nurses Month 2023 with the ANA: Why stop at celebrating nurses for only one day or one week? Make the fun last an entire month by following along with with the ANA has planned. They have it broken down into 4 weeks with each week having its own focus:
  1. Week 1 (May 1-7): “Self Care” - focus on cultivating and maintaining optimal mental health and physical wellbeing.
  2. Week 2 (May 8-14): “Recognition” - Honoring nurses to lead, excel, and innovate in the healthcare systems and in our communities.
  3. Week 3 (May 15-21): “Professional Development” - Access resources and insights to guide professional development, and learn how to excel and lead in the nursing career. 
  4. Week 4 (May 22-31): “Community Engagement” - Engage with the community and learn what nurses do beyond the bedside.

Click here to learn more and download their free 2023 Nurses Month toolkit


As Nurses Day quickly approaches don’t forget to use this month as a way to honor the nurses in your community. Their value in our society cannot be overstated and this is the perfect chance to show our appreciation for their dedication and hard work.