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National Nurses Week: Honoring all Nurses

by Kerry McKee on 2023-05-09T10:00:00-04:00 in In The News, Library Announcements | 0 Comments

Banner saying thank you nurses with an image of a stethoscope and hearts

By Linda Paulls, MLIS

May 6th – 12th is National Nurses Week, a time to show gratitude to nurses for their hard work, dedication, indispensable knowledge, and the care they provide. The Levy Library honors and thanks nurses for their invaluable contribution to healthcare.

A little history on National Nurses Week:

In 1953 the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare urged President Eisenhower to create an official “Nurse Day.” One year later, the first “National Nurses Week” was observed in October, the 100th year anniversary of Florence Nightingale's service during the Crimean War. Nightingale is known for her pioneering work in nursing, which significantly reduced death rates among wounded soldier by improving hygiene and other standards.  In 1955 a bill for a “National Nurse Week” was introduced to Congress, but unfortunately action wasn’t taken.

Florence Nightingale - Full length, right profile, ministering to soldiers at Scutari. (Image available from the NLM)Twenty years later, in January 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) declared May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, as "International Nurse Day.” One month later, in February, President Nixon issued a proclamation for “National Nurse Week.”  But things weren’t exactly official yet and the Nixon’s recognition date wasn’t in May.  The May celebration of nurses was established in 1978 when New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6th as "Nurses Day.”

Finally, in 1982, President Ronald Reagan, in appreciation for the nursing care he’d received after being wounded during an assignation attempt, signed an Executive Order officially making May 6th “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”  And, in 1990 the American Nurses Association (ANA) extended the recognition to a full week May 6th - May 12th, with the last day being the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.  

Image from the National Library of Medicine Digital Collections

Levy Library Support for Nurses:

Levy Library librarians and resources are available to support nursing, nursing practice, and nurse research. Here are a few helpful library services and resources:

  • Ask-A-Librarian – Live Chat, email or meet with a medical librarian for assistance with literature searches, reference questions, publishing support, and instruction on library resources.
  • Nursing Reference Center Plus –  Find Evidence-Based information, free CE modules, Skills videos, Competency Checklists, Patient handouts, Care sheets, Quick lessons, and Management topics.
  • CINAHL – Database that specifically searches nursing and allied health literature.    
  • PubMed – Search 28 million citations for biomedical literature. Easy access to full-text with “Find at the Library” feature. 
  • Zotero and EndNote – Reference Management tools which you can download and use to collect, organize, cite, format, and share references. 
  • Levy Library’s Guide on Nursing Resources – Curated pages on resources and topics for nursing specialties.
  • Levy Library Open classes – Check our schedule of Zoom sessions on Patient Education Resources; Nursing Reference Center Plus; EndNote, and others.  Many past sessions are available on the Levy Library’s YouTube Channel

MSHS support for well-being and stress management:

For more on the timeline and history of National Nurses Day see  Nurses Week History  by the American Nurse Association (ANA) 


History of national nurses week: American Nurses Association. 18 October 2017, accessed 8 May, 2023.

Biography: Florence Nightingale. Kerri Lee Alexander. National Women's History Museum. 8 May, 2023, accessed 8 May 2023.

American Nurses Association has designed May as National Nurses Month, with each week dedicated to a different theme: self-care, recognition, professional development, and community engagement. (cite

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