Free Press Journal

International Nurses Day 2017: History, significance and everything you need to know


Nurses play a key role in the health care system by unconditionally working on the welfare safety and recovery of patients. They are the unsung heroes who bring a new life into the world, care unconditionally for the sick and injured and unfortunately sometime watch patients pass away whom they nursed lovingly. On International Nurses Day, May 12, let’s acknowledge the hard work, long shift hours and emotional pressure they go through in their daily routine.

International Nurses Day is celebrated on May 12 to mark the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. In 2017 the theme is ‘Nursing: A voice to lead – Achieving the sustainable development goals’.

Nurses Day was first proposed by Dorothy Sutherland, an official with the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In 1953, she approached President Dwight D Eisenhower regarding a day to be dedicated completely to ‘Nurses’. Unfortunately, the request got rejected. Since 1965, as a tribute to Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, International Council of Nurses (ICN) celebrates her birthday as ‘Nurses Day’. It was only in 1975, the day was officially announced as International Nurses Day. Since then, ICN distributes a special kit called the ‘International Nurses’ Day Kit’ that is stuffed with educational and public information materials.

About Florence Nightingale
Born on May 12, 1920, Florence Nightingale was an English social reformer and statistician and is also known as the founder of modern nursing. Her work came into spotlight while serving as a manager of nurses during the Crimean War. She was worked round the clock in the service of wounded soldiers. She became an icon of Victorian culture and was popularly known as ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ as she would make rounds in the soldiers’ ward at night with a lamp. She was also a versatile writer and has penned down several books on medical knowledge in simple English so that even those with poor literary skills understand it. Most of her work on religion and mysticism has been published posthumously.

Celebrations around the world
China: Nurses recite the Florence Nightingale pledge.
Australia: A special event is organised to celebrate the day and the ‘Australian Nurse of the Day’ is announced and felicitated here. In addition, there several other events are organised in medical institutions.
United Kingdom: In London, every year the day is celebrated in a unique way, where a symbolic lamp is taken from Nurses’ Chappel in the Abbey and is passed from one nurse to another and then to the Dean, who later places it on the High Altar. The tradition symbolises the passing of knowledge from one nurses to another.