National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th – which is actually Florence Nightingale’s birthday. But it wasn’t easy for Nurses to gain the recognition they deserved – it actually took many years and not one, but two Presidential Proclamations!

In 1953, 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. Unfortunately, the proclamation was never made.

In 1954, National Nurse Week was observed from October 11 – 16. This particular observance marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. Representative Frances P. Bolton sponsored the bill for a nurse week. Apparently, a bill for a National Nurse Week was initially introduced in the 1955 Congress, but no action was taken. Congress had discontinued its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.

Again, in 1972, a resolution was presented by the House of Representatives for the President to proclaim “National Registered Nurse Day.” It did not occur.

In January of 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed that May 12 would be “International Nurse Day.” (May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale.) Since 1965, the ICN has celebrated “International Nurse Day.”

In February of 1974, a full week was designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issued a proclamation.

In 1978, New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as “Nurses Day.”

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