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Date: May 6, 2021

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National Nurses Day 2021

One thing that's safe to say about 2020 is that we all have a newfound appreciation for healthcare professionals, especially nurses.

So where did National Nurses Week come from? It actually started in 1953, when Dorothy Sutherland from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposes a "Nurse Day." In 1953, the first Nurses Week took place in October, marking the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's work in the Crimean War. Unfortunately, the celebration would not appear again, at least in part, until 1974.

President Nixon declared that a week in February would be celebrated as National Nurse Week, after the International Council of Nurses decided that May 12 (Nightingale's birthday) would serve as International Nurse Day. Finally, after a whirlwind effort by local governors and the American Nursing Association, a President Reagan signed a proclamation that declared May 6 the official National Recognition Day for Nurses.

And finally, in 1991, we welcomed the return of a week-long celebration of nurses, when the ANA expanded the recognition of nurses to over an entire week, gaining the title of National Nurses Week. In 1993, the ANA Board of Directors agreed upon May 6-12th as the permanent, and annually recurring, dates of Nurses Week. (Dates and historical information courtesy of the ANA.)