Each year in May, the American Nurses Association (ANA) observes National Nurses Week. It is celebrated annually beginning on May 6, also known as National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
National Nurses Week focuses attention on the diverse ways America’s 3.1 million registered nurses, who comprise the largest healthcare profession, are working to improve healthcare. From bedside nursing in hospitals and long-term care facilities to the halls of research institutions, state legislatures and Congress, the depth and breadth of the nursing profession is meeting the expanding healthcare needs of American society.
More job growth is projected in nursing than in any other occupation between 2008 and 2018. But a convergence of demographics — an aging population of nurses who will soon leave the workforce coupled with the demands of an overall aging nation — will widen the gap between the supply of nurses and the growing demand for healthcare services.
This year, the ANA selected “Delivering Quality and Innovation in Patient Care” as the theme. The ANA supports and encourages National Nurses Week recognition programs through the various state and district nurses associations, other specialty nursing organizations, educational facilities and independent healthcare companies and institutions. ANA, through its constituent and member associations, advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting economic and general welfare, promoting a positive and realistic view of nursing and lobbying Congress and the regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.
The nursing profession has been supported by the ANA since 1896. The first Nurses Day was celebrated in 1982 when, in February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982, as “National Nurses Day.” The action affirmed a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.” President Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation on March 25, 1982. This proclamation was the culmination of several decades of effort by various members of Congress to establish a permanent day to recognize and celebrate nurses. For more information about National Nurses Week, please visit www.nursingworld.org/nnw