International Day of Nurses


May 17, 2022

The International Day of Nurses (obsolete International Day of Nurses, English: International Nurses Day) is an internationally committed day of action that is celebrated annually on May 12. It commemorates the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing.


Plans for a Nurses Day were first floated in 1953 by Dorothy Sutherland, a US Department of Health and Human Services official. However, then US President Dwight D. Eisenhower refused to proclaim him. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) finally took the lead and celebrated the day since 1965. Since January 1974 the day has also been officially set for May 12th. It is intended to recognize the work of nurses and highlight their role in the healthcare system. In Germany, it was initially also called International Day of Nurses, but was then renamed International Day of Nurses. May 12 is intended to commemorate the birthday of Florence Nightingale in 1820, who is considered the founder of modern western nursing. Actions are taking place around the world around the day of action. A fair for nurses is held annually in London's Westminster Abbey. In some countries there is an action week. In the United States, National Nursing Week occurs from May 6th to 12th, while Canada always takes the week that includes May 12th. The day is also associated with demands on politicians to improve the nursing situation. The ICN issues educational and promotional materials for the day to draw attention to the great achievements of nurses around the world. The ICN also has a different motto for the day. 2020 was a special year for International Nurses Day. Not only did 2020 mark Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the Global Year of the Professional Nurse and Midwife. The day of action this year coincided with the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Past Mottos

1988 - Safe Motherhood 1989 - School Health 1990 - Nurses and Environment 1991 - Mental Health - Nurses in Action 1992 - Healthy Aging 1993 - Quality, costs and nursing 1994 - Healthy Families for Healthy Nation 1995 - Women's Health: Nurses Pave the Way 1996 - Better Health through Nursing Research 1997 - Healthy Young People A Brighter Future 1998 – Partnership for Community Health 1999 - Celebrating Nursing's Past, claiming the future 2000 - Nurses - Always there for you 2001 - Nurses, Always There for You: United Against Violence 2002 - Nurses Always There for You: Caring for Families 2003 - Nurses: Fighting AIDS stigma, working for all 2004 - Nurses: Working with the Poor; Against Poverty 2005 - Nurses for Patients' Safety: Targeting counterfeit medicines and substandard medications 2006 – Safe staffing saves lives 2007 – Positive practice environments: Quality workplaces quality patient care 2008 - Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Primary Health Care and social care 2009 - Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Care Innovations 2010 - Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Chronic Care 2011 - Closing the Gap: Increasing Access and Equity 2012 - Closing the Gap: From Evidence to Action 2013 - Closing the Gap: Millennium Development Goals 2014 - Nurses: A Force for Change - A vital resource for health 2015 - Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective 2016 - Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving Health Systems' Resilience 2017 - Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2018 - Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Health is a Human Right 2019 - Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Health for All 2020 - Nurses: A