What is National Nurses Week?

4 Min Read Published May 1, 2024
National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week, the highlight of the year for nurses, is finally here! Read on to learn all about Nurses Week, including why we celebrate it, and its history.

What is National Nurses Week?

Every year, from May 6th to 12th, nurses are recognized for their service and dedication to caring for others and improving the health of patients nationwide through National Nurses Week. Throughout the week, healthcare organizations celebrate their teams, and you'll even see nurses featured on the news. People across the nation thank the nurses who have made a difference in their lives. 

Nurses Week celebrates the effort, dedication, and sacrifice nurses make every day. Nurses are essential members of America's healthcare workforce who provide care through every stage of life, working with patients at their most intimate and vulnerable moments. Nurses Week offers a chance to highlight and celebrate nurses for all we do. 

When is Nurses Week 2024?

This year, National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6 - May 12. The week is just a part of the larger National Nurses Month, which is celebrated from May 1 to the 31st. 

What is the 2024 Nurses Week Theme?

This year's theme is "Nurses Make the Difference" and, according to the ANA, "honors the incredible nurses who embody the spirit of compassion and care in every health care setting."

The theme is accompanied by the campaign #NursesLightUpTheSky where, around the world, landmarks will be lit up to celebrate nurses and rally support for all that they do. 

Free Nurses Week Giveaways

Nurse.org is partnering with several companies on an amazing Nurse's MONTH Giveaway - launching on May 1, 2024. Sign up now for early access! 

Why Nurses Week is Celebrated

The ANA and other nursing organizations promote Nurses Week as a time to thank and recognize nurses across the country for their dedication to the profession and patients we serve. Healthcare organizations throw celebrations, and the public is encouraged to “thank a nurse” who's made a difference in their lives. 

Nurses Week is our time to shine. Let's lift each other up and recognize the good in what we do every day. It's easy to dwell on everything that needs to be changed, but for one week, I challenge you to look for the good. Recognize your nurse besties, mentors, and the nurses who make a difference in your day. We've compiled the 7 Best Gifts for Nurses Week.   

How Nurses Week is Celebrated 

Every healthcare organization celebrates its nurses a bit differently. Many hold events throughout the week to recognize their nurses, and meals or gifts for the entire nursing team are common. 

Managers and administration plan and prepare for months to make the week special. If you're stuck trying to decide the best way to show your appreciation, check out some of these Nurses Week appreciation ideas!

In the community, you'll see news reports highlighting extraordinary nurses who go above and beyond for their communities and patients. Many local businesses also create special offers for nurses—watch your local news and social media outlets to see what might be available near you.  

How is Nurse.org Celebrating National Nurses Week?

We have a lot going on for Nurses Week 2024, so much so that we're celebrating the entire month of May, AKA Nurses Month! Here's what we have going on this year:

  • We've teamed up with MLB teams across the country to offer special discounts, recognition, and appreciation events for nurses all throughout the month of May (and beyond). Check out our upcoming nurse appreciation nights to find one in your area.
  • We've rounded up a list of the best Nurses Week discounts so you can take advantage of all the deals. We've also partnered with several companies on an amazing Nurses Month Giveaway that we're launching on May 1, 2024. 
  • We're going to be releasing our 2024 State of Nursing report, an annual survey we run to understand how nurses are really doing and the current issues that matter most to them. 
  • We've partnered with Commerce Bank to create a credit card designed exclusively for nurses. Learn more about the Nurse Rewards Visa® Signature Credit Card and find out how to get one. 
  • We'll have even more surprises in store happening on our Instagram, so be sure to follow us so you don't miss a thing. 

History of National Nurses Week

Several individuals, organizations, and political leaders contributed to the efforts that have evolved into Nurses Week as it is celebrated today. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has compiled several facts about the history of Nurses Week: 

  • 1953: The first effort to establish a recognition day for nurses was when Dorothy Parker of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proclamation to then-President Eisenhower. He never signed the proclamation.
  • 1954: A National Nurse Week was observed October 11-16 in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's work during the Crimean War. 
  • From the 1950s to 1970s, several bills were introduced to Congress, but none made it through the legislative process. 
  • 1974: The International Council of Nurses declared May 12 International Nurses Day. In the US, President Nixon signed a proclamation recognizing National Nurse Week. 
  • 1982: The ANA declared May 6 as National Nurses Day, which Ronald Reagan signed as an official proclamation
  • 1990:  The ANA extended the celebration to "Nurses Week,” and the dates May 6-12 became permanent as of 1994. 

Within Nurses Week, National Student Nurse Day is May 8, and National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday that falls during Nurses Week.  

Nursing has always been a profession that needs more than just your time and knowledge. Nursing requires heart, passion, and dedication to serving others. Nurses Week allows the public to acknowledge and thank nurses for the work they choose every day. It's a chance for us to pause and thank the nurses who have made a difference in our careers. 

Joleen Sams
Joleen Sams
Nurse.org Contributor

Joleen Sams is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner based in the Kansas City metro area. During her 10-year RN career, Joleen worked in NICU, inpatient pediatrics, and regulatory compliance. Since graduating with her MSN-FNP in 2019, she has worked in urgent care and nursing administration. Connect with Joleen on LinkedIn or see more of her writing on her website.

Read More From Joleen
Go to the top of page