National Nurses Week 2017

  • National Nurses Week celebrates the contributions nurses make every day to make positive changes for patients.

  • Nurses ensure the delivery of quality health care to patients, families and society.

  • Nurses are recognized by the public for upholding high ethical standards. An annual Gallup survey shows that the public has ranked nursing as the top profession for honesty and ethical standards for 14 years straight.

  • Nurses have a critical responsibility to uphold the highest level of quality and standards in their practice, including fostering a safe work environment.

  • Nursing leaders ensure resources are available to achieve safety results, providing resources for adequate staffing, equipment and education.

  • Nurses use quality measurements to improve patient outcomes.

  • The American Nurses Association (ANA) has a long-standing commitment to ensuring the health and wellness of nurses in all settings. ANA supports improving the work life of health care providers: what’s good for nurses is good for patients.

Healthy Nurse, Health Nation


If all 3.6 million registered nurses increased their personal wellness and then their families, co-workers and patients followed suit, what a healthier nation we would live in! That is the goal of the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Grand Challenge, an initiative to connect and engage nurses, employers, and organizations around improving health in five areas: physical activity, nutrition, rest, quality of life, and safety.

Nurses are less healthy than the average American. Research shows that nurses are more likely to be overweight, have higher levels of stress, and get less sleep. As the largest and most trusted health care profession, nurses are critical to the health of the nation. Healthy nurses are great role models for their patients, colleagues, families, and neighbors.

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National Nurses Week History

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. These permanent dates enhance planning and position National Nurses Week as an established recognition event. As of 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day, to be celebrated annually. And as of 2003, National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday within National Nurses Week each year.

The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA)

A Brief History

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. The proclamation was never made.

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

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

In January, 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 that year, a week was designated by the White House as “National Nurse Week”, and President Nixon issued a proclamation.

New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as “Nurses Day.” Edward Scanlan, of Red Bank, NJ, took up the cause to perpetuate the recognition of nurses in his state. Mr. Scanlan had this date listed
in Chase’s Calendar of Annual Events. He promoted the celebration on his own.

ANA, along with various nursing organizations, rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through their Congressman, Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”

In February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982 as “National Nurses Day.” The action affirmed a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”

President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25 proclaiming “National Recognition Day for Nurses” to be May 6, 1982.

The ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6–12, 1991, as “National Nurses Week.”

The ANA Board of Directors designated May 6–12 as permanent dates to observe “National Nurses Week” in 1994 and in all subsequent years.

The ANA initiated “National RN Recognition Day” on May 6, 1996, to honor the nation’s indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year. The ANA encourages its state and territorial nurses associations and other organizations to acknowledge May 6 as “National RN Recognition Day.”

The ANA Board of Directors, at the request of the National Student Nurses Association, designated May 8 as “National Student Nurses Day.”

We Care

  • We appreciate our nurses every day, but Nurses Week is a great opportunity to take the time to celebrate. We also want to support nurses in this year’s theme of becoming healthier in mind, body, and spirit.

  • Self-care saves lives! That’s why we’re celebrating the 2017 Nurses Week theme of “Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit.”