International Nurses Day
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has celebrated this day since 1965. In 1953 Dorothy Sutherland, an official with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, proposed that President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaim a "Nurses' Day"; he did not approve it.
In January 1974, 12 May was chosen to celebrate the day as it is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered the founder of modern nursing. Each year, ICN prepares and distributes the International Nurses' Day Kit. The kit contains educational and public information materials, for use by nurses everywhere.
UK celebrations 
Each year a service is held in Westminster Abbey in London. During the Service, a symbolic lamp is taken from the Nurses' Chapel in the Abbey and handed from one nurse to another, thence to the Dean, who places it on the High Altar. This signifies the passing of knowledge from one nurse to another. At St Margaret's Church at East Wellow in Hampshire, where Florence Nightingale is buried, a service is also held on the Sunday after her birthday.
ICN themes for International Nurses Day:
- 1988 - Safe Motherhood
- 1989 - School Health
- 1990 - Nurses and Environment
- 1991 - Mental Health - Nurses in Action
- 1992 - Healthy Aging
- 1993 - Quality, costs and Nursing
- 1994 - Healthy Families for Healthy Nation
- 1995 - Women's Health: Nurses Pave the Way
- 1996 - Better Health through Nursing Research
- 1997 - Healthy Young People = A Brighter Future
- 1998 - Partnership for Community Health
- 1999 - Celebrating Nursing's Past, claiming the future
- 2000 - Nurses - Always there for you
- 2001 - Nurses, Always There for You: United Against Violence
- 2002 - Nurses Always There for You: Caring for Families
- 2003 - Nurses: Fighting AIDS stigma, working for all
- 2004 - Nurses: Working with the Poor; Against Poverty
- 2005 - Nurses for Patients' Safety: Targeting counterfeit medicines and substandard medication
- 2006 - Safe staffing saves lives
- 2007 - Positive practice environments: Quality workplaces = quality patient care
- 2008 - Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Primary Health Care
- 2009 - Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Care Innovations
- 2010 - Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Chronic Care
- 2011 - Closing The Gap: Increasing Access and Equity
- 2012 - Closing The Gap: From Evidence to Action
- 2013 - Closing The Gap: Millennium Development Goals
National Nursing Week (US & Canada) 
The U.S. and Canada celebrate National Nursing Week each year from 6 May to 12 May (the birthday of Florence Nightingale). The Canadian Minister of Health instituted National Nursing Week in Canada in 1985.
In the U.S., National Nurses Week was first observed from October 11 - 16, 1954 in honor of the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's mission to Crimea. President Nixon later proclaimed a "National Nurse Week" in 1974. In 1982, President Reagan signed a proposal officially designating May 6th as "National Recognition Day for Nurses," now known as National Nurses Day or National RN Recognition Day. In 1990, the American Nurses Association (ANA) expanded the holiday into the current National Nurses Week celebrated from 6 May to 12 May.
In 1997, at the request of the National Student Nurses Association, the ANA designated 8 May as National Student Nurses Day. In 2003, the ANA designated the Wednesday within National Nurses Week as National School Nurse Day.  The National Association of School Nurses, however, claims that National School Nurse Day has been recognized since 1972.
Australian celebrations 
The Australian Nurse of the Year is announced at a ceremony at one of the state's capital cities. Additionally, in each of the Australian states and territories, various nursing ceremonies are conducted during the week.
See also 
- "International Nurses Day". International Council of Nurses. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- "National Nurses' Day 2006". Hallmark Press Room. Archived from the original on 30 October 2006. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
- Nelson, Roxanne (29 April 2003). "Good Night, Florence; With Nursing in Crisis, Some Say It's Time to Retire Nightingale as a Symbol". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- "National Nurses Week History". The American Nurses Association, Inc. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
- "Commemoration Service". Florence Nightingale Foundation. Archived from the original on 16 October 2006. Retrieved 3 December 2006.
- "International Nurses Day". International Council of Nurses. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
- "National Nurses Day". Calendar Updates, LLC. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- "National Nurses Week History". American Nurses Association. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- "National School Nurse Day". National Association of School Nurses. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- International Nurses' Day Kit - by the International Council of Nurses; in English, French and Spanish
- Congratulation to Medical Workers on Int'l Nurses' Day - by the Chinese Xinhua News Agency, 2003
- Celebrate the noble profession of nursing - a report from South Africa, 2005