International Nurses Day

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International Nurses Day
Nursing students.jpg
Czech nursing students (2006)
Also calledICN
Observed byVarious countries
Date12 May
Next time12 May 2023 (2023-05-12)

International Nurses Day (IND) is an international day observed around the world on 12 May (the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth) each year, to mark the contributions that nurses make to society.[1]


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"; but 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, the founder of modern nursing.[2][3] Each year, ICN prepares and distributes the International Nurses' Day Kit.[4] The kit contains educational and public information materials, for use by nurses everywhere. As of 1998, 8 May was designated as annual National Student Nurses' Day.


ICN themes for International Nurses Day:[5]

  • 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 and social 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
  • 2014 – Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health
  • 2015 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective
  • 2016 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving Health Systems' Resilience[4]
  • 2017 – Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
  • 2018 – Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health is a Human right
  • 2019 – Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health for All
  • 2020 – Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Nursing the World to Health[6]
  • 2021 - Nurses: A Voice to Lead - A Vision for Future Healthcare
  • 2022 - Nurses: Make a Difference

International activities[edit]


The Australian Nurse of the Year is announced at a ceremony at one of the state capital cities. Additionally, in each of the Australian states and territories, various nursing award ceremonies are conducted during the week.[7]


In 2007, 5000 nurses gathered in Yichun, East China's Jiangxi Province.[8]


Since 2012, Nurse Jobs Ireland (an Irish nurse recruitment agency) launch a week long pro-bono campaign to celebrate nurses on the 6–12 May every year. This week long celebration uses digital platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to promote the great work nurses do using the hashtag #CelebrateNurses. The public leave their positive comments and thanks on the Celebrate Nurses website where they are collated into an ebook which is shared in medical facilities throughout Ireland.[9]


Singapore celebrates Nurses Day on 1 August.[10] Back in the 1800s, a thriving Singapore found itself in need of providing better healthcare and medical services to a growing population. While there were several hospitals, there was a lack of nurses to support the doctors. French nuns from the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus were trained to become nurses to fulfil this need, as they were seen as the only educated European women in Singapore who could undertake this challenge. 1 August 1885 marks the beginning of the development of nursing in Singapore when these nuns began their nursing duties in the General Hospital at the Sepoy Lines in the Outram area.[11]


In 2003, after the outbreak of highly contagious SARS, spread from but hidden by China, President Chen Shui-bian visited a hospital on International Nurses Day to express admiration for 3 nurses, infected with SARS and sacrificed, among other medical personnel fighting on the frontline. He conveyed wishes to nurses for their devotion to duty of caring and reminded hospital staff that they should adopt strict precautionary measures to protect themselves before contacting with patients.[12]

President Tsai Ing-wen, with the Minister of Health and Welfare, attends International Nurses Day celebration


Starting in 1990, Thailand observes 21 October as National Nurses' Day วันพยาบาลแห่งชาติ (Wan Phayaban Haeng Chat). The date commemorates the birth of Srinagarindra the Princess Mother and was adopted 4 April 1990.[13]

United Kingdom[edit]

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.

United States and Canada (National Nursing Week)[edit]

US President Donald Trump signs a proclamation in honor of National Nurses Day in May 2020

The U.S. celebrates National Nursing Week each year from 6 May to 12 May (the birthday of Florence Nightingale). Canada celebrates National Nursing Week each year during the week that includes 12 May. The Canadian Minister of Health instituted National Nursing Week in Canada in 1985.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "International Nurses Day". International Council of Nurses. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  2. ^ Chung, King-Thom (2009). Women Pioneers of Medical Research: Biographies of 25 Outstanding Scientists. Chapter 2. Florence Nightingale (1820–1910). Founder of Modern Nursing. McFarland. p. 16.
  3. ^ "Florence Nightingale: the medical superstar". Daily Express. 12 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b "2016 – Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving health systems' resilience". Archived from the original on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  5. ^ "International Nurses Day". International Council of Nurses. Archived from the original on 9 December 2006. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  6. ^ "Happy international Nurses Day". WHO.
  7. ^ "International Nurses Day 2020".
  8. ^ "International Nurses Day –". Archived from the original on 15 May 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  9. ^ "International Nurses Day to be marked with special 'shine a light' tribute". belfastlive. 10 May 2020.
  10. ^ Singapore, National Library Board. "Nurses Day | Infopedia". Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  11. ^ "S'pore's Nurses' Day falls on Aug. 1, the noble profession here was started by French nuns". Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  12. ^ "President Chen Inspects the Quarantine Wards of Taipei Veterans General Hospital". Office of the President of Taiwan. 12 May 2003. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  13. ^ "เรื่อง วันพยาบาลแห่งชาติ". Secretariat of the Cabinet website (in Thai). Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  14. ^ "International Nurses Day 2020: Know history, theme and significance of Florence Nightingale's birth anniversary". Jagran. 11 May 2020.

External links[edit]