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When Is Nurses Week 2021?

The Trusted Team
March 16, 2021
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Nurses Week 2021 will take place between Thursday, May 6 – Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

We celebrate Nurses Week every year from May 6 to May 12 to shine a spotlight on the incredible nurses (registered nurses, nurse practitioners, LPNs, and others) across the country that have devoted their lives to the betterment of the lives of others. But what is Nurses Week, when did it begin, and how can you celebrate this year?

What Is Nurses Week and When Is It?

Nurses Week is an annual celebration of all that nurses around the world do for their communities. It's our time to recognize, appreciate, and invest in the nurses we know or work with every day as well as the entire nursing industry as whole.

And while Nurses Week is inclusive of all nurses, there are some more specific celebrations throughout. May 6th is the first day of National Nurses Week. May 8th brings particular attention to student nurses on National Student Nurses Day, and May 12th is International Nurses Day and National School Nurse Day! All different types of nurses contribute to their communities in a myriad of ways all year round, this week is the time for these communities to show their support back to the nursing profession!

Nurses Week 2020 was unlike any other. As a society, we asked more of nurses than we ever have by asking you to put your lives on the front lines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. While one week is not nearly enough, we want to take this week every year to share our gratitude by offering our support for the work you do every day, in times of crisis, and always.

What’s Different about Nurses Week 2021?

With Nurses Week 2020, the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, and the Year of the Nurse and Midwife behind us, what has changed since then? So far, not much. We’re still grappling with a devastating pandemic, and frontline nurses and other healthcare staff are still struggling to care for an ailing population.

That said the American Nurses Associated (ANA) has extended the Year of the Nurse and Midwife into 2021, and we again want to use this opportunity to highlight all that nurses are, have been, and will be in our society. 2021 is a time to celebrate the efforts made by nurses everywhere to improve health conditions globally; recognize and reflect upon the challenging conditions nurses face in practice, whether they be physical, emotional, or mental; and, then take strides toward increasing and better caring for the existing nursing workforce.

We’re seeing nurses struggling with incredible challenges to their mental health and wellbeing, and we’re still hospital systems pushed to the brink. But, despite all of this, nurses and other healthcare practitioners are continuing to step forward in support; they’re not giving up, and they’re not backing down.

Plain and simple, nurses are doers, and they will keep on doing until everyone receives the care they need. Nurses Week 2020 was a tough one, but we promise that Nurses Week 2021 will be a week of celebration and of reflection — a reflection of everything we’ve been through this past year and of what we nurses truly are capable of.

As traditional nursing roles expand in scope and nurses find themselves working in direct patient care or building healthier communities in a variety of other ways, there has grown an entirely new set of challenges for nurses to solve. Now more than ever, nurses are relied upon to use their unique skill sets to progress in ways that health care hasn’t for decades.

The Focus of Nurses Week 2021

Given everything this year has thrown at at nurses and other healthcare workers in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, there isn’t a better or more appropriate time to focus on recognizing, appreciating, and investing in our incredible nurses across the globe serving on the front lines. While it makes sense, and is of course appropriate, to single out a particular week to give thanks to nurses, it should by no means stop there; after all, nurses work around the clock 52 weeks a year.

Especially now, nurses are more deserving than ever of our support, respect, and appreciation. That’s why we want to make Nurses Week 2021 another one to remember (and better than Nurses Week 2020), for all nurses stationed on the frontlines of health care. We’ll talk more about Nurses Week 2021 and this year’s celebration in the coming weeks, but for now, let’s take a look at the history of Nurses Week.

crowd of nurses entering area to applause and celebration nurses week 2020 what is nurses week and when is nurses week 2020 nurses week

Where Did Nurses Week Come From?

It all began in 1953, when Dorothy Sutherland from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposed a “Nurse Day” annually in October. Unfortunately, that day was never enacted.

Although, not long after in 1954, the first Nurses Week took place from October 11-16th, marking the 100-year anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s work in the Crimean War. However, the week was not yet an annual occurrence and would not appear again, at least in part, until 1974.

In 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) decided that May 12, the birthday of Nightingale, would serve as International Nurse Day. Soon after, President Nixon declared that a week of February would be celebrated as National Nurse Week.

Then, after a whirlwind effort by local governors and the ANA, a proclamation landed in front of President Reagan that declared May 6, 1982, 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.)

And thus, the annual celebration of National Nurses Week was born. What's the best way to celebrate Nurses Week 2021? Follow along on social media to find out!

Nurses Week 2021 and the Year to Come

With multiple vaccines now approved and in the early stages of dissemination, hope is looming on the horizon. Yes, we must keep pushing forward until we reach some semblance of normalcy, but it’s close… and getting closer by the day.

It’s finally the new year, and that means most of us are setting our intentions for the months to come. And for 2021, we invite you to set the intention of spending more time caring for you.

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we are human and have our own limits to what we can withstand before experiencing dreaded nurse burnout. As nurses, we care for everyone around us, often neglecting our own needs; and frankly, the culture that glamorizes overworking ourselves needs to change.

Nurses are incredible, and they are the core of the healthcare system. We are proud to do our part by connecting them with roles in which they can, and do, pursue in order to improve and save lives. However, it’s not at no cost to them, and for that, there can never be enough thanks.

Make sure you’re doing what you can to provide for your own needs, too:

And, of course, make sure you’re taking care of your fellow nurses:

You can find additional mental health and emotional wellbeing resources for nurses on our Mental Health Resources page.

While times are still tough now, there will be more to look forward to soon. Stay tuned for more information on Nurses Week 2021, and how we’re celebrating our nurses at Trusted Health.

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