Celebrate National Nurses Day

Happy Nurses Day!

National Nurses Week is observed each year in honor of the dedicated registered nurses (RN) of America. In emergency rooms, hospitals, clinics and other health-care settings, nurses provide compassionate care for patients and their families.

National Nurses Week is the perfect opportunity to recognize the contributions of the nursing profession. The week began May 6 with National Nurses Day and ends on May 12 in observation of the birthday of Florence Nightingale. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has designated the theme of National Nurses Week 2012 as “Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring.” During National Nurses Week, all registered nurses are encouraged by the ANA to identify themselves by wearing uniforms and RN pins.

In addition to honoring the nation’s 3.1 million registered nurses and drawing attention to the important role they play in America’s health care system, National Nurses Week pays homage to the woman who is recognized as the founder of modern nursing. Florence Nightingale was born into a wealthy upper class British family on May 12, 1820. At age 24, she dedicated her life to nursing, despite the protests of her family. She gained recognition for her work in Turkey during the Crimean War, when she led the first group of female nurses in a British military hospital.

Following her return to England, Nightingale suffered the consequences of post traumatic stress and avoided public functions for the remainder of her life. Despite her own serious health problems, she continued her pioneering work in the field of nursing. She published an influential book, Notes on Nursing, which introduced many nursing practices that have now become standard. In 1860, Nightingale established the world’s first public nursing school at London’s St. Thomas Hospital. She mentored Linda Richards, who became the first trained nurse in America. At the time of her death at age 90, she was recognized as a leader in both nursing practice and hospital administration.

National Nurses Week was established by the ANA in 1990. The ANA suggests that hospitals and communities mark the week with receptions, fundraisers, free health screenings and other events that draw attention to the important role played by nurses. The contributions of nurses can be recognized with newspaper articles, press conferences and city proclamations. Doctors and patients can honor an individual nurse with a personal gift or a donation made in the nurse’s name to the ANA’s American Nurse Foundation.

This is a pivotal time for health care in America. There is no doubt that nurses will play a vital role in the transformation of the nation’s health care system as patient advocates and leaders in disease prevention. National Nurses Week is the perfect opportunity to recognize the courage and commitment of nurses, and to call attention to the ongoing demand for more nursing professionals. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nursing is expected to see more job growth than any other profession in the next decade.

For more information about National Nurses Week, visit the American Nurses Association website, where you’ll find a catalog of promotional items and more suggestions on how to celebrate the nursing profession.

This is a guest post from Erica Moss. Erica is the social media outreach coordinator for the online Masters in Nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading nurse practitioner programs. She also loves exploring NYC, photography and meeting new people in her free time.

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