International Nurses Day (IND) is an international day observed around the world on 12 May of each year, to mark the contributions that nurses make to society.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has celebrated this day since 1965.
In 1953 Dorothy Sutherland, an official with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, proposed that President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaim a “Nurses’ Day”; he did not approve it.
In January 1974, 12 May was chosen to celebrate the day as it is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Each year, ICN prepares and distributes the International Nurses’ Day Kit. The kit contains educational and public information materials, for use by nurses everywhere.
As of 1998, 8 May was designated as annual National Student Nurses’ Day.
- 1988 – Safe Motherhood
- 1989 – School Health
- 1990 – Nurses and Environment
- 1991 – Mental Health – Nurses in Action
- 1992 – Healthy Aging
- 1993 – Quality, costs and Nursing
- 1994 – Healthy Families for Healthy Nation
- 1995 – Women’s Health: Nurses Pave the Way
- 1996 – Better Health through Nursing Research
- 1997 – Healthy Young People = A Brighter Future
- 1998 – Partnership for Community Health
- 1999 – Celebrating Nursing’s Past, claiming the future
- 2000 – Nurses – Always there for you
- 2001 – Nurses, Always There for You: United Against Violence
- 2002 – Nurses Always There for You: Caring for Families
- 2003 – Nurses: Fighting AIDS stigma, working for all
- 2004 – Nurses: Working with the Poor; Against Poverty
- 2005 – Nurses for Patients’ Safety: Targeting counterfeit medicines and substandard medication
- 2006 – Safe staffing saves lives
- 2007 – Positive practice environments: Quality workplaces = quality patient care
- 2008 – Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Primary Health Care and social care
- 2009 – Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Care Innovations
- 2010 – Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Chronic Care
- 2011 – Closing The Gap: Increasing Access and Equity
- 2012 – Closing The Gap: From Evidence to Action
- 2013 – Closing The Gap: Millennium Development Goals
- 2014 – Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health
- 2015 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective
- 2016 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving Health Systems’ Resilience
- 2017 – Nurses: A voice to lead – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
- 2018 – Nurses A Voice to Lead – Health is a Human right
- 2019 – Nurses: A voice to lead – Health for All
- 2020 – Nurses: A voice to lead – Nursing the World to Health
About Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale OM, RRC, DStJ (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) was a British social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing.
Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organised care for wounded soldiers. She gave nursing a favourable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night.
In 1860, Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world, and is now part of King’s College London. In recognition of her pioneering work in nursing, the Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses, and the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve, were named in her honour, and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday. Her social reforms included improving healthcare for all sections of British society, advocating better hunger relief in India, helping to abolish prostitution laws that were harsh for women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.
Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer. In her lifetime, much of her published work was concerned with spreading medical knowledge. Some of her tracts were written in simple English so that they could easily be understood by those with poor literary skills. She was also a pioneer in data visualization with the use of infographics, effectively using graphical presentations of statistical data. Much of her writing, including her extensive work on religion and mysticism, has only been published posthumously.
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