At the end of the 19th century, "The Lady With the Lamp"—or as she is more widely known, Florence Nightingale—founded modern nursing. Thanks to her strict use of handwashing and hygiene practices while caring for wounded soldiers in the Crimean War, Nightingale and her helpers reduced the death rate from 42% to 2%—ushering in nursing as we know it today. On May 6, we recognize the important role nurses play in our lives by celebrating National Nurses Day.
Why We Love National Nurses Day
1. Nurses Are the Backbone of Medical Care
Doctors may diagnose us, prescribe our medicines, and perform our surgeries, but without nurses, their jobs would be impossible. Nurses are on the front lines everyday—administering shots, performing physical exams, nursing wounds, and in many cases, caring for dying patients when the doctor is away. Nurses are there for us during our most vulnerable moments.
2. Nurses Are Repeatedly Ranked the Most Trusted Profession
Chances are, nurses know more about you than anyone else in your life. They know your weight (and keep it a secret!), they’ve seen you naked, and they know all your vitals. But you can trust them. According to polls, more than 80% of Americans think nurses have either “high” or “very high” ethical standards.
3. Even When They’re Not Working, They’re Nursing Friends and Family
If you’re lucky enough to have a nurse in the family, you never have to worry about your health. Even when they’re off the clock, nurses are always ready to give medical advice, administer medication, and fix us right up when something is wrong—even if that happens to be in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.
How to Celebrate National Nurses Day
1. Thank the Nurses in Your Life
Nursing is known for being a “behind-the-scenes” profession. A simple “thank you for all you do” could make a nurse’s day by showing that you notice their hard work. With more than 3 million registered nurses in the USA, chances are there is at least one nurse out there who would be thrilled to be the object of your gratitude.
2. Give the Gift of Caffeine
Nurses often work long, thankless shifts—standing on their feet for 12 or more hours a day. For a nurse on the run, there’s nothing better than a boost of caffeine in the middle of a shift. Head over to your local clinic or hospital with copious amounts of coffee in tow, and tell the receptionist you’re there to honor the nurses for National Nurses Day.
3. Learn About the Woman Responsible for It All
We’ve all heard the name Florence Nightingale. But do you know what made her famous? In honor of National Nurses Day, educate yourself about this groundbreaking woman who paved the way for modern nursing. Read an article—or better yet, watch a documentary—about “The Lady with the Lamp.” Bonus points if you can recite the Florence Nightingale Pledge afterwards!