Celebrating National Nurses Week

“As a nurse we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may forget your name but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

That great quote from Maya Angelou so eloquently encompasses what it feels like to be a nurse. Nursing is a job that requires a lifetime of commitment and compassion but also allows a nurse to live a life of incredible significance. I have been a nurse for many years and can’t imagine doing anything else. Anyone who chooses this profession will tell you that it’s a calling and if your heart isn’t in it, then it may not be for you.

Each year we celebrate National Nurses Week beginning May 6 and ending on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. This celebration gives us the opportunity to recognize and honor the dedicated and compassionate individuals who give their heart and soul to the profession of caring for patients. In 1974 the International Council of Nurses declared May 12 as International Nurse’s day which is now celebrated in many countries.

The history of nursing goes back centuries. We always think that Florence Nightingale started the first school for nurses in 1860. However, did you know the first nursing school is believed to date back to 250 B.C. in India and was opened to men only? Men have been an important and integral part of the history of nursing. The first nurse to step foot in what is now the United States is thought to be a Friar by the name of Juan de Mena who arrived from Mexico on the shore of the Gulf Coast after the ship he was on wrecked in 1550. Walt Whitman also worked as a nurse volunteer during the Civil War. Today the number of men in the profession is growing, making up about 9.6% of nurses in the U.S.

This year’s theme is “Ethical Practice. Quality Care.” It was chosen to recognize the importance of ethics in nursing and acknowledge the strong commitment to ethics, compassion and care that nurses display in their practice and profession. This has led to nurses being the most admired and trusted profession in the U.S. Often it’s the long hours and backbreaking work that generate the most attention. However, it’s the individual stories of each nurse that truly define what the profession is all about. Regardless of whether they work in hospitals, corporate America, individual homes or any of the endless places where a nurse is needed, I am lucky to hear these stories every day. They fuel my passion and commitment to do everything I can to ensure nurses have what they need to do their jobs well and make every patient experience a positive one.

National Nurses Week is how we honor the individuals who have made compassionate caring their life’s work. It is a privilege and an honor to be a nurse and hope you will join me in celebrating all of the wonderful nurses at your organization not just this week, but every week of the year.

For more interesting nurse facts, be sure to follow @apihealthcare on Twitter where we will be honoring nurses all week.


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