International Nurses Day is celebrated every year on May 12. It marks the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. International Council of Nurses (ICN), a federation of over 130 national nurses organizations worldwide, commemorates this day by producing as well as distributing resources related to the field of nursing. The objective behind observance of this day is to raise awareness about the contributions of nurses in influencing global healthcare.
First of the efforts for official recognition of a Nurses’ Day was initiated in 1953 by an official working with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare named Dorothy Sutherland. However, her proposal was not approved back then. It was in 1965 that the International Council of Nurses celebrated the International Nurse Day for the first time. Observance of the International Nurses Day on 12 May was actually chosen later in January 1974 to coincide it with the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale.
Theme of International Nurses Day 2020
The Theme of International Nurses Day 2020 is “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Nursing the World to Health”. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic where nurses are playing a crucial role in saving lives as frontline workers, the theme of this year’s International Nurses Day becomes even more relevant. When the world is striving to survive through the Coronavirus crisis, nurses are central in addressing a wide range of challenges related to the healthcare sector including healthcare services and healthcare administration. The International Nurses Day not only celebrates the contributions of nurses but also provides information and resources essential for raising the profile of this profession throughout the year. This way more and more people from the younger generations would be attracted to join the nursing services.
Themes of Previous Years
- 2019 – Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health for All
- 2018 – Nurses A Voice to Lead – Health is a Human Right
- 2017 – Nurses: A voice to lead – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
- 2016 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving Health Systems’ Resilience
- 2015 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective
- 2014 – Nurses: A Force for Change – A Vital Resource for Health
- 2013 – Closing The Gap: Millennium Development Goals
- 2012 – Closing The Gap: From Evidence to Action
- 2011 – Closing The Gap: Increasing Access and Equity
- 2010 – Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Chronic Care
2020: Year of the Nurses and Midwife
Year 2020 has been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” to mark the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. To commemorate the occasion, the International Council of Nurses have planned various activities and events throughout the year. The year is expected to be a momentous one as it will highlight the exceptional efforts of nurses all across the globe, especially now, when the nurses are working tirelessly to lessen the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
Who was Florence Nightingale?
Florence Nightingale was a social reformer from Britain. She was a statistician and nurse born on May 12, 1820. Nightingale gained prominence due to her contributions in organizing proper nursing services during the Crimean War (October 1853–February 1856). As the manager and trainer of nurses, her efforts saved the lives of many wounded and injured soldiers during the war. She used to make rounds to serve the wounded soldiers holding a lamp during the nights. Thus, she was famously referred to as the “Lady with the Lamp”.
By establishing a nursing school at London’s St. Thomas Hospital, Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing in the year 1860. This nursing school was the first of its kind being completely secular. Thus, Florence Nightingale is also credited for being the founder of modern nursing. To acknowledge her contributions to the field of nursing, new nurses take the Nightingale Pledge. In fact, the highest international distinction in this field is also named in her honor – the Florence Nightingale Medal.