Nurses Week

Nurses Week

Nurses Make a Difference

5/6/2024 | Angela Whitlock, CSRA

National Nurses Week honors the many ways nurses have supported patients and the healthcare system. National Nurses Week begins on May 6th and ends on May 12th, which is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Within this week, there is also National Student Nurses Day and National School Nurse Day, both of which fall on May 8th this year. 


National Nurses Week dates back to 1953, when Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare submitted a proposal to President Dwight Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the following year. Although the proclamation was never made, National Nurse Week was observed from October 11-16 in 1954. This year marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea.   

In 1955, a bill was introduced for having a National Nurse Week, but no action was taken. In 1972, a resolution was presented by the House of Representatives for the President to proclaim a “National Registered Nurse Day,” but it did not happen. Finally in 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN)) proclaimed May 12th would be “International Nurse Day,” and shortly after, a National Nurses Week was designated by President Richard Nixon when he issued a proclamation.   


In 1990, the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a weeklong celebration. They declared May 6th-12th as National Nurses Week. The week was observed for the first time the following year, in 1991. In 1993, the ANA Board of Directors designated these dates as permanent.  

This year’s theme for Nurses Week is “Nurses Make the Difference.” The theme helps to encourage nurses, healthcare professionals, community leaders, employers, and the public to recognize and promote the many contributions and positive impact of nurses worldwide. It aims to call attention to the influence of the nursing profession and to express gratitude. In addition, the theme calls attention to the health of nurses and workforce issues that matter to nurses, as well as opportunities to provide support.  

The ANA encourages everyone to use social media to share their gratitude for nurses everywhere. By using #ThankANurse along with a picture of your favorite nurse, share a story of a time that nurse made a difference in your life. Or, if you are a nurse, give your team or another colleague a shoutout. is also partnering with several companies on an amazing Nurses Month Giveaway, meaning you can show appreciation for nurses all month long by signing up here.

While gifts are never expected, if you do want to give a nurse a gift, recommends things like scrubs, a stethoscope, a gift card, gift baskets, thank you cards, or sponsoring a lunch for a shift.  


Museum of the Grand Prairie also shows appreciation and honor toward nurses and healthcare workers in our current exhibit, A History of Healing: Infectious Diseases and Community Responses to Defeat Them. This exhibit features such nurses as Lucille Clark, the first woman of color to enter and graduate from Graham Hospital School of Nursing who has a history of speaking and attending many seminars and medical conventions throughout her lifetime. Lucille is also showcased within our online exhibit, This Legacy is Yours, which you can find on our website here. Stop by the museum or look throughout our virtual exhibits to find more information about nurses throughout the history of Champaign County. 

Museum of the Grand Prairie’s Museum Store will also be offering a discount to all nurses during the week of May 6th. Stop into the Museum Store and let us know that you are or were a nurse, and you will receive 20% off your final order.  


To all nurses, thank you for your continued service.  



Image: Museum of the Grand Prairie website