How to Observe an Especially Meaningful National Nurses Week this Year

April 30, 2020

The United States has honored those in the nursing profession since the 1950s—and there’s no question this year is particularly significant. National Nurses Week has been a big part of that since 1954. National Nurses Week was first observed in October 1954, the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. May 6 was introduced as the date for the observance in 1982.

Nurses deserve recognition and thanks for the many positive impacts they bring across every discipline of healthcare. This year, as nurses all over the country put their lives on the line to help care for those who have contracted SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, it makes sense to go beyond our sincere expressed sentiments of gratitude and respect.

Nurses Are Making Deeply Personal Sacrifices

Nursing is a difficult profession under even the best of circumstances. When we’re not facing a global pandemic that renders hundreds of thousands terribly ill and thousands in need of respiratory assistance, nurses still face personal risk to their own health and well-being while they work long hours to care for the sick and dying.

That risk has exploded in severity in recent weeks, as those on the front lines providing medical care for COVID-19 patients are forced to work even longer hours in direct contact with those patients. Moreover, the national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) means that nurses and other medical care providers are at greater risk of contracting the virus themselves.

This unique crisis has put nurses in unthinkable positions, with many denying themselves basic needs during their shifts and self-isolating away from their families when not at work. At the same time, they’re continuing to provide patients with attentive care and comfort at times when typical support networks of families and friends cannot be present at a loved one’s bedside. 

It’s against this backdrop that we’re headed into National Nurses Week, which is annually observed from May 6-12. We owe our nurses a great debt of gratitude for their selfless and mission-focused service in the face of a harrowing world health event.

The History of National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week was first recognized by the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) Board of Directors quite recently—in 1990. Although the official designation of “National Nurses Week” is only 30 years old, the concept of a national time of recognition for those in the nursing profession goes back to around 1953. It was during that time President Dwight Eisenhower received a request that proposed designating a day of honor for the profession.

Although Eisenhower’s administration never issued a formal proclamation, the following year a National Nurse Week was observed between October 11-16. The dates were chosen to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission, along with 38 other nurses, to provide care for British soldiers injured in the Crimean War.

Other requests for formal Presidential proclamations honoring U.S. nurses were made over the years, culminating in President Reagan’s signature on a proclamation for “National Recognition Day for Nurses” on May 6, 1982. Eight years later, the ANA board expanded the occasion to a week and made May 6-12 the permanent date for the event—ending on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. 

Honoring the Nurses in Your Community During National Nurses Week

For over 20 years we have fostered relationships with our manufacturing facilities, ensuring quality and safety are a top priority. We’re grateful to have access to essential healthcare products, and should you decide to purchase any of these for your health organization or for donation purposes, you can find a full list here.

One of the best ways to show your support for frontline nurses this year is by donating to the Coronavirus Response Fund for Nurses. This national effort provides direct financial assistance to nurses, supports the mental health of frontline healthcare workers, and helps ensure nurses have access to the most up-to-date science-based information during the global pandemic. 

If you’re looking for other ways to commemorate National Nurses Week and honor the nurses who have given so much back to your community, consider a crystal award. They’re striking in both appearance and symbolism, and they’re perfect for recognizing performance that goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Laughter and whimsy can be useful medicine during stressful times, too. If you’d like to keep it lighter or maybe even a bit on the silly side, consider our nursing-themed stress balls, screen cleaners, promotional pens, and more. These items serve useful, practical purposes while still bringing a little lighthearted fun to the workday of your favorite nurses and their patients. (We also carry similar items for the doctors in your life.)

Finally, if you’d like to recognize the entire hospital nursing staff, consider a meaningful enamel lapel pin. They’re budget-friendly, visually striking, and personally expressive. As a bonus, they can be worn daily, which helps bolster morale during this trying professional time.

Salute to the Nurses

No matter how you choose to recognize and observe National Nurses Week, we encourage all businesses to let the nurses in their communities know how much they’re valued. Need help choosing the perfect promo gift? Reach out on our contact page, email us at Hello@GBpro.net or DM us on Instagram.

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