Annually, May 6 is the start of National Nurses Week. The week celebrates all nurses, with days throughout the week dedicated to student nurses and school nurses.

From home care to CNAs to RNs to NPs, nurses have many roles in the healthcare workforce. Below we take a look at the history of National Nurses Week and the importance of celebrating nurses in 2022.


A Brief History of National Nurses Week

While it may seem odd that National Nurses Week begins not at the beginning of a week but on a specific day of the month, there is a reason. May 12, the day that concludes National Nurses Week, is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Considered the founder of modern nursing, Nightingale died in 1912. However, it was not until 1953 that the first measures to pass a National Nurses Day proclamation and not until 1974 would a proclamation be signed. In 1991, the day of recognition was extended to National Nurses Week, which we celebrate today.


Celebrating Nurses

During the Covi-19 pandemic, nurses were among the most likely healthcare workers to experience adverse psychological symptoms. Yet, they were also among the most important. This led to an outpouring of verbal support that created a public image of nurses as heroes. However, studies have since shown that “hero discourse” did more harm than good, normalizing nurses’ high-risk exposure and limiting front-line nurses’ ability “to determine the conditions of their work.”

This year, the International Council of Nurses’ National Nurses Week looks to tackle two key issues following two years of COVID-19: staffing and nurses’ workers’ rights. Currently, nurses leaving the field outpace those entering. As a result, experts predict a nursing shortage of up to half a million nurses by 2030. As a result of the pandemic, this number may grow. During the pandemic, 66% of nurses considered leaving the profession altogether. This shortage is paired with news of legislation that would create salary caps for certain types of nurses, which has been shown to exacerbate staffing shortages while doing little for saving hospitals money.

For the ICN, celebrating nurses this National Nurses Week is about awareness and advocacy of these two issues. They have also created a portfolio of case studies of nurses around the world. You can read the stories here.