The Importance of Nurses

Since 1974 the American Nurses Association (ANA) has annually celebrated nurses the week of May 6 – 12 as Nurses Week, ending on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12, and for the past 3 years chose to celebrate the entire month of May. The 2023 focus is “Nurses make a Difference” to promote an understanding and appreciation for the contributions nurses make in all aspects of health care. It is significant to remember Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) for her contributions to nursing. She made a difference because of her data collection and social reform during the Crimean War (1853), and referred to as the founder of modern nursing and a nursing pioneer with hospital reform.

Florence was asked by The Secretary of War (1854) to organize a nursing corps to care for sick and wounded soldiers suffering from significant neglect and lack of medical attention. Florence did make a difference since females had not been allowed to care for the sick and injured soldiers when the war started. She became known as “the lady with the lamp” because she cared for soldiers for long hours and into the dark of night. Her data collection was used to introduce good hygiene practices that reduced mortality rates and made government leaders aware of changes needed to improve military health. These influences are seen today in hospital designs along with discovering hospitals themselves could affect the health and recovery of patients.

Florence helped emancipate women while working towards social equality and is remembered for her determination, confidence, compassion, and integrity as her beliefs and teachings continue to impact nurses today. Nurses still recite the Nightingale Pledge at pinning, graduation, and Nurse Honour Guard (NHG) ceremonies. A famous Florence Nightingale quote is “No matter how difficult the days may get; don’t forget the reason you became a nurse.”

Why Celebrate Nurses Month?

The American Nurses Association (ANA) declared May 6th to May 12th as the permanent week to celebrate nurses in 1993. Now 30 years later, at over 4 million strong, nurses are the largest group of healthcare professionals that the American public consistently ranks as the most honest and ethical Nurses Month is intended to celebrate nurses in a meaningful way to increase the understanding of the value of nursing by raising the visibility of the profession and the critical work nurses do. By elevating the profession, ANA hopes to spur greater investment in the support and increased capacity of the nursing workforce.

What is the Theme for Nurse Month in 2023?

For Nurses Month, the American Nurses Association has selected an evergreen theme that reflects gratitude as well as positivity toward the nursing community – “You Make a Difference”. An evergreen theme means that the theme will not change from year to year – it will always be “You Make A Difference”. However, the graphics and materials will be refreshed each year.

Are There Weekly Themes?

Yes. The ANA Enterprise will focus on a different theme each week during May. The goal is to inspire nurses to engage in activities that make a positive difference in their own health and well-being, professional development, and in their own community. Here is the list for each weekly theme in Nurses Month with corresponding dates:

  • Week 1 – Self-care (May 1 – 7)
  • Week 2 – Recognition (May 8 – 14)
  • Week 3 – Professional Development (May 15 – 21)
  • Week 4 – Community Engagement (May 22 – 31)

Research cites nurses as the foundation for global healthcare and 50% of the worldwide healthcare workforce is nursing. Studies cite we need 13 million nurses worldwide to slow down the shortage, an alarming number. The nurse shortage for 2030 may be worse because five million nurses are eligible and expected to retire, not including nurses lost to death. The average age of a US nurse today is 52 with more than half of the nurses over age 50. Data identified 1.2 million new nurses are needed by 2030, and 13% of newly licensed RNs change their job after only one year, and 37% of new RNs want to change their job only after one year of nursing. It is not all gloom and doom as nearly 200,000 nursing jobs are open each year in America with a nurse employment growth projected as 9% through 2030. The clock is ticking.

Becoming a nurse is a rewarding career choice if you “hear the call,” a way of life, and the backbone of our healthcare system. Nursing jobs may not offer great hours/shifts, financial security, exceptional benefits, holidays, and weekends off, a matched retirement system or honor nurse’s experience/education seniority when changing positions/jobs. However, it is a rewarding career and never dull, a career that you will not regret. Nurses always have and always will make a difference as your patient advocate ensuring all patients receive consistent excellent quality care. I read a brief article not long ago titled “Why Nursing.” It read like this: “A nurse is the one who opens the eyes of a newborn and gently closes the eyes of a dying person. It is indeed a privilege to be the first and last to witness the beginning and end of life.” Nurses make a difference by stepping into people’s lives and by special moments. If interested in becoming a nurse, talk with nurses, check into nursing school requirements regardless of your age or status, and make a difference by becoming a nurse.


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