National Nurses Week Recognizes Dedicated Care, Healing Nurses Provide to Communities

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the "Year of the Nurse…" in honor of Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday, celebrated on May 12, 2020. This was proposed at a WHO meeting in January of 2019, over one year before COVID-19 would become significantly impactful around the globe. Little did WHO officials know at that time exactly how much the world would come to depend on nurses in 2020, and now into 2021, to battle back against the worst pandemic seen in a century.

Nurse with patient

National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6 in the U.S. as the kickoff to National Nurses Week, which is May 6 – 12. This is generally a week of celebration, recognition and reflection for nurses across the U.S. in hospitals, health care facilities and innumerable other settings where nurses practice. This week is encompassing of all nurses across the spectrum of licensure and certification. It's a time for health systems, colleagues and the general public to provide some recognition for the selfless dedicated efforts of nurses to provide care, healing and comfort to our communities.

This past year has seen dogged determination amongst nurses at all levels of patient care, research and clinical practice to provide the best possible evidence-based interventions for our patients across the health care continuum. Nursing has shouldered a significant brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines of trying to prevent significant morbidity and mortality throughout the globe and exceedingly so here in the U.S. There have been countless hours worked, tears shed, assessments, office visits, treatment protocols and interventions developed, hands held and last breaths witnessed since this pandemic began. All of this was done because of what drove us into humanities and patient care in the first place. It's our inherent need to provide comfort and healing for our fellow human that brings us back every day, despite risks that we incur to our own health at times.

As we look forward to this year's Nurses Week, it should be noted that the American Nurses Association and WHO have extended "The Year of the Nurse…" through the year 2021 based on the increased visibility of the contributions of nursing to humanity during this pandemic. As nurses and the health care community reflect upon the past year, we also look forward to continuing our humanitarian mission of care, compassion, education and healing. As the final line of the Nightingale Pledge states, "I will dedicate myself to devoted service for human welfare." We should all recommit our personal and professional missions to maintain the highest ideals and integrity when caring for our fellow human, all in the spirit of our modern foremother, Florence Nightingale.

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This article is authored by Adam Burget, RN