An image of a nurse holding up a clipboard that says Nurses "Make the Difference" to celebrate National Nurses Week.

National Nurses Week, taking place May 6-12 every year, is the perfect time to recognize nurses' life-changing impact on individuals, families, and communities daily. It’s a chance for us as a nation to stand together and say, Thank you, nurses, for your selflessness, expertise, and boundless empathy.

Whether you're a nurse, healthcare employer, or American citizen, we'll give you five reasons to celebrate National Nurses Week. But before we do, here's some context to this annual celebration.

National Nurses Week 2024

From bustling emergency rooms to serene long-term care facilities, nurses embody the spirit of care and compassion in every healthcare setting, touching lives, soothing fears, and offering hope in moments of darkness. So, for 2024, the American Nurses Association is spotlighting the nation's more than five million nurses using the theme Nurses Make the Difference.

Fun Facts for Nurses Week

  • The last day of Nurses Week, May 12, was Florence Nightingale's birthday

  • The first unofficial Nurses Week took place in October 1954.

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked nurse practitioner the best job for 2024.

  • The median age for registered nurses is 46 years old.

  • The percentage of men in nursing grew from 9.4% to 11.2% between 2020 and 2022.

  • Four times more RNs are working in the United States than medical doctors.

  • The BLS anticipates the creation of 203,000+ new RN positions between now and 2031.

  • Nurses have stayed at the top of Gallup's Honesty and Ethics poll for 22 consecutive years.

An image of a clipboard and stethoscope with text that says Thank You, Nurses! in celebration of National Nurses Week.

National Nurses Week History

In 1955, despite Congress receiving a bill recognizing the contribution of nurses, it remained untouched. However, undeterred by legislative inertia, the spirit of recognition persevered.

Fast forward to February 1974, a pivotal moment marked by President Nixon's proclamation and the White House echoing the sentiment by designating National Nurses Week.

Finally, in 1993, the American Nurses Association took more decisive action. The board of directors boldly designated May 6-12 as the permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week, symbolizing an unwavering commitment to honoring the nursing profession.

Source: ANA Enterprise

"What I like about Nurses Week is its recognition of the profession. It lets everyone know what nurses are about and the amazing contributions they make in healthcare." —Diane Warburton, RN, ShiftMed Clinical Compliance Nurse

Why Nurses Should Celebrate Nurses Week

Nurses should celebrate themselves for numerous reasons, as they play a pivotal role in healthcare delivery and positively impact the lives of patients, families, and communities. But the celebration shouldn't be limited to a week in May; it should be year-round.

  1. Nurses should celebrate their professional expertise, compassionate care, and impact on public health, taking full advantage of all the freebies, discounts, and events available during Nurses Week 2024.

  2. Nurses dedicate themselves to meeting the needs of others. But they still need to take time for themselves, remembering that when they prioritize their well-being, they're better equipped to care for others.

  3. By recognizing their value and contributions, nurses can cultivate a sense of pride, fulfillment, and empowerment in their roles as healthcare professionals.

  4. When nurses reflect on why they became nurses, they can remind themselves that not just anyone can fill their shoes and handle the unpredictable ups and downs of the profession with grace and perseverance.

  5. Nurses are critical members of interdisciplinary teams that improve patient care, healthcare outcomes, and organizational effectiveness. They should acknowledge and celebrate their ability to foster collaboration among healthcare professionals.

"In our line of work, it's easy for negative and frustrating thoughts to remain top of mind. So, for me, Nurses Week has always been a great time to step back and reflect on the positive outcomes that make what we do so rewarding." —Brittany Williamson, RN, ShiftMed Director of Nursing

Why Healthcare Employers Should Celebrate Nurses Week

Nurses Week isn't the only time healthcare employers should celebrate and appreciate their nursing staff. After all, they're essential assets to the functioning and success of an organization.

  1. Nurses play a significant role in shaping patients' experiences and perceptions of healthcare services. When nurses are valued and supported by their employers, they are more likely to provide high-quality care, improving patient satisfaction and outcomes.

  2. Appreciating nurses fosters a positive work environment that encourages job satisfaction and retention. When nurses feel valued, respected, and supported in their roles, they'll likely stay with the organization long-term.

  3. Recognizing nurses for their contributions boosts morale and fosters a sense of belonging within the workplace. Appreciated nurses are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their work, leading to higher productivity and performance.

  4. Healthcare employers that celebrate and appreciate nurses encourage a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, empowering nurses to contribute ideas and solutions that drive positive organizational change.

  5. By providing opportunities for skill enhancement, career advancement, and leadership development, healthcare employers demonstrate their commitment to nurses' growth and success within the organization.

An image of a ShiftMed nurse explaining why she loves being a nurse.

Why the Public Should Celebrate Nurses Week

Overall, nurses are the backbone of the nation's healthcare system, and their tireless efforts deserve appreciation from patients, families, and society as a whole.

  1. Nurses provide essential care and compassion to patients during some of their most vulnerable moments—not just anyone can or will help a stranger go to the bathroom or dress a wound.

  2. Nurses face numerous challenges and demands in their profession, including long hours, stressful work environments, and emotional strain—and they still push forward because they care.

  3. Nurses contribute to research, innovation, and policy development to advance healthcare practices and improve patient outcomes.

  4. Nurses are at the forefront during emergencies, disasters, and public health crises, providing care, comfort, and support to affected individuals.

  5. Nurses undergo extensive training and education to develop clinical expertise to assess patient conditions, administer medications, and perform various medical procedures that contribute significantly to patient outcomes.

"I don't think patients realize how much nurses advocate for them. I spent 10 years at the bedside, and patients had no idea I got the doctor to come back to answer their questions."—Paula Hagestad, RN, ShiftMed Clinical Compliance Nurse

Thank You, Nurses!

It's not easy being a nurse. They work hard, putting their heart and soul into patient care. While most patients and family members don't realize the full scope of their efforts, the folks at ShiftMed see them and can't thank them enough for their selfless contributions.

That's why National Nurses Week is not just a week on the calendar; it's a moment to amplify our gratitude for the superheroes of healthcare. Their unwavering commitment, tireless dedication, and compassionate care are the beating heart of our healthcare system.