International Nurses Day Date in the current year: May 12, 2019

International Nurses Day Nursing is an essential profession within the health care sector. While doctors treat patients, nurses care for their general well-being, working collaboratively with other health care professionals and the patients’ families. Their professional holiday is celebrated around the globe on May 12. International Nurses Day honors their contributions to the society.

The celebration of a professional holiday dedicated to nurses was first proposed in 1953 by Dorothy Sutherland, an official working for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. However, President Dwight D. Eisenhower did not approve her proposal that he proclaim a Nurses’ Day.

In 1965 International Nurses Day was celebrated for the first time by the International Council of Nurses. The present-day date of the holiday was chosen in 1974 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered the founder of modern nursing.

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 into a wealthy, upper-class family and inherited a liberal-humanitarian outlook from both of her parents. She became interested in nursing at an early age but was initially reluctant to undertake the profession because of her family’s disapproval. However, she eventually decided to face the opposition of her relatives and rebel against her expected societal role.

Florence Nightingale made her most famous contribution to the development of modern nursing during the Crimean War. She trained a staff of volunteer nurses and Catholic nuns who were deployed in the Crimea. Nightingale helped improve the condition of the facilities and reduced the death rate from over 40% to just 2%.

Upon her return to England, she set up a training school for nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and published a book titled Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not, which is considered a classical introduction to nursing. One of her biggest achievements was the introduction of properly trained nursing staff into Britain’s workhouse system. In 1883, Nightingale became the first recipient of the Royal Red Cross, a military decoration awarded for exceptional services in military nursing.

International Nurses Day is celebrated in many countries across the globe. For example, the United States and Canada celebrate National Nursing Week every year, culminating on May 12. In Australia, the Australian Nurse of the Year Award is presented on or close to International Nurses Day.

In the United Kingdom, a special service is held in the Nurses’ Chapel in the Westminster Abbey in London. During the service, a symbolic lamp is handed from one nurse to another, symbolizing the passing of knowledge. It is also a nod to Nightingale’s nickname “The Lady with the Lamp”, which she gained during the Crimean War for making rounds in the hospital with a lamp in her hand.

Another service is held at St Margaret’s Church in Wellow, Hampshire, where Florence Nightingale is buried. The service takes place on the Sunday following Nightingale’s birthday.

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