National Nurses Week
By Carina D.
Whether they work in burn clinics, trauma centers, or children’s wards, nurses are part of an extraordinary team of medical professionals who ensure the best of health and happiness for people everywhere. Nurses are often more comfortable to talk to about personal issues than surgeons and doctors. These diligent, persistent workers who labor in numerous shifts alongside patients and other physicians, and there is a special day to acknowledge them for all the wonderful, arduous, hazardous things they do for people every day. While May 6th may just be a normal day for most people, it is the beginning of a week-long celebration of nurses and everything they do! Some of the days from May 6th to May 12th are dedicated to certain nurses. For example, as of 1997, National School Nurse Day happens on the Wednesday of each Nurses Week (especially for those who don’t just slap on a bandage and call it “fixed”).
Looking into the past, many amazing things have happened to, and because of, nurses since the very beginning:
- 55 AD: Saint Phoebe becomes nursing history’s most famous healthcare provider (at the time).
- 380 AD: First general hospital is founded in Rome by Fabiola.
- 1654-1656: Sisters of Charity care for wounded soldiers at Sedan and Arras, France.
- 1775: George Washington grants permission to establish hospitals for people in war with one nurse for every ten patients.
- 1860: Florence Nightingale establishes Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, an institution that teaches about the importance of sanitary environments and good hygiene as well as exceptional patient care.
- 1861: Dorothea Lynde Dix (who founded 32 mental health institutions!) volunteers for the Union Army and is assigned to be Superintendent of Women’s Nurses for the Union Army by the Secretary of War (long title, eh?). After this, 6,000 women become war nurses.
- 1881: Clarissa “Clara” Barton founds the American Red Cross (which is still in business today).
- 1879: Mary Mahoney, the first African American nurse, graduates from the New England Hospital and Training School for Women and Children.
- 1901: United States Army Nurse Corps is established.
- 1922: Christiane Reimann becomes Executive Secretary of the International Council of Nurses.
- 1925: Mary Carson Breckinridge founds the Frontier Nursing Service.
World War II (1939-1945): Military nurses serve the wounded in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
- 1974: International Nurse Day (and week) is formed.
- 1993: ANA Board of Directors sets National Nurses Week to be from May 6th-12th every year.
- Today: Nursing is recognized for everything it has done (and continues to do) for humanity, while new advances in technology continue to enhance nurses’ performance and care.
Whether you give thanks by sending a letter, giving treats, or throwing a party, giving a nurse (or, even better, nurses!) one simple “thank you” will significantly brighten the day of people who have dedicated their lives to helping you. May 6th, here we come!
“Without good and careful nursing, many must suffer greatly and probably perish that might have been restored to health and comfort, and become useful to themselves, their families, and the public for many years after.”