When is Nurses Week 2022?
Nurses Week (May 6th-May 12th) is a chance to shine a spotlight on the most-trusted professionals across the country who devote their lives to the betterment of others' health and quality of life. And it is a chance to reflect on the challenges nurses face. Without nurses, our healthcare system would not be able to function, and so we take this week each year to recognize and celebrate the hard work and critical role nurses play in keeping us all healthy and safe. This is a time to celebrate nurses for the essential role they play in our lives and our health care system.
But, what exactly is Nurses Week, and what is its significance this year?
When is Nurses Week?
This year's Nurses Week will take place between Friday, May 6, and Thursday, May 12, 2022.
The significance of the date and the history of Nurses Week links back to the 19th century, to the birth of Florence Nightingale on May 12, 1820.
Considered the founder of modern nursing, Nightingale dedicated her life to improving health care quality. Many people see her as the inspiration behind modern nursing, and history credits her with saving the lives of many soldiers during the Crimean War.
What is Nurses Week, and how did it start?
To mark the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's work in the Crimean war, the first Nurses Week was held in 1954.
Twenty years later, in 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) decided to make May 12 International Nurse Day, coinciding with Nightingale's birthday.
The next few decades saw several Nurses Day or Nurses Week celebrations. From Nixon's National Nurse Week in February to Reagan's recognition of May 6, 1982, as the official National Recognition Day for Nurses, the event kept shifting between different dates.
It was in 1991 when the celebration of the nursing profession returned to being an entire week. And in 1993, the American Nurses Associated (ANA) agreed on the week from May 6 to May 12 as the permanent dates for the annual celebration of Nurses Week.
Since then, National Nurses Week has been celebrated each year from May 6-12.
As we all know, the past couple of years have been grueling for nurses and the entire healthcare system to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic has put an enormous amount of pressure on nurses and other health workers, who have had to adapt to constantly changing guidelines and procedures while also dealing with the personal stress and uncertainty of the pandemic.
Despite the challenges, nurses have risen to the occasion, and have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. They have cared for patients who were often isolated from their loved ones, comforted families, and provided critical information about the disease. They have also been working to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination and other measures that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
And they have done all this with limited resources, unimaginably long working days, and in often precarious personal and work situations.
What challenges will nursing face in the coming months?
The truth is that nurses have shouldered the worst of the burden brought on by the pandemic. Today, as the COVID-19 crisis seems to subside and countries start planning the move back to a higher level of normality, nurses are left with the aftermath of exhaustion, burnout, and often a lack of motivation to carry on in this career path.
The spotlight that shone on the healthcare workers during the peak of the pandemic made all the deficiencies of the healthcare system impossible to ignore.
When the population was gripped with panic during the worst months of COVID, there was a general outcry and demand for systemic changes in the healthcare professions.
But now, as the number of cases starts to decline, the focus of politicians today has moved on to ensuring a return to normalcy and the economic policies needed for a post-pandemic recovery. With less focus on healthcare, the nursing staff shortages that were already present during the peak of COVID (and even before the pandemic) are only getting worse. As healthcare starts to move away from the heavy dependence on travel nurses, their pay rates begin to decline, making it harder to cover vacancies in the short term.
All this will put further stress on a nursing profession that is exhausted and has already been pushed to their limits far too many times.
The state of nursing mental health
Our 2021 Frontline Nurse Mental Health Report has identified some worrying, although not surprising, finds.
A whopping 95 percent of nurses reported that they felt that their mental health and well-being were either not a priority at all or a priority but without adequate measures to support it. If we pair that with the incredible amount of pressure that frontline nurses in all fields have faced during the pandemic years, it's understandable that 46 percent of them report that they are less committed to the nursing profession due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hailed as the heroes of the fight against the virus, nurses have not received the corresponding practical support they've so desperately needed, beyond loud thank yous and accolades.
When asked about their future career plans, 25 percent of nurses surveyed are planning to leave nursing, either through retirement or by actively looking for a job in a different field. An additional 46 percent plan to actively look for a job outside of nursing within the following year.
This shows the exhaustion and crisis that the nursing profession is going through and why the focus for this year's Nurses Week has to address these problems, and celebrate the profession.
What is the focus of Nurses Week 2022?
This year's Nurses Week will be, as always, an important opportunity to recognize and celebrate nurses' hard work and dedication across the country.
Nurses Week is a chance to thank nurses for their heroism and resilience and pledge support for them as they continue fighting the tail end of this pandemic and its long-term consequences.
But support for nurses has to go beyond words and translate into concrete actions that genuinely make a difference in their lives and jobs.
That is why the AACN has chosen the theme for this year's Nurses Week to be "Rooted in Strength." The theme is inspired by AACN president Beth Wathen who acknowledged the difficulties of a year beset by public health, social and economic crises. She recognized that in order to continue to grow, she needed to step back.
This week is a time to celebrate nurses and all you do for us. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about nurses' critical role in our healthcare system.
Nurses are the heartbeat of healthcare, the visible face for most patients and families as you navigate the system, and crucial support for those suffering. You are the frontline workers who are often the first to spot a health problem, and you play a critical role in keeping us healthy.
This Nurses Week, set aside some for yourself to reflect and reconnect with your support system and check in with your fellow nurses. And be sure to check back here during Nurses Week to see all the fun and exciting things that Trusted has planned (including free stuff!) to show our appreciation for all you do!