In 1953, Dorothy Sutherland, an employee at the United States Department of Health, sent a letter to President Eisenhower proposing a National Nurses Day. An official proclamation was not made. The following year people began celebrating National Nurses Week on their own.
In 1974, President Nixon proclaimed a National Nurse Week. New Mexico nurses initiated a resolution in 1981 to have May 6th declared National Recognition Day for Nurses. The American Nurses Association (ANA) Board of Directors took up the banner and promoted the proposal. In 1982, the United States Congress designated May 6th to be National Recognition Day for Nurses and President Ronald Reagan signed the proposal. The ANA Board of Directors later expanded the celebration in 1990 to a week-long celebration (May 6-12) known as National Nurses Week.
May 6th, 2020, contributed to the history of this celebration by recognizing nurses across the globe who have chosen to overcome the fear of compromising their health to serve those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. This year President Trump, delivered a proclamation stating, “Few times has our reliance on nurses been more profoundly evident than during the coronavirus outbreak. In the midst of this crisis, nurses have displayed incredible examples of humanity, selflessness, and sacrifice as they have fought to care for their fellow citizens and save lives. Nationwide, in hospitals, clinics, and other treatment centers where Americans are suffering from the virus, these warriors have steadfastly provided remarkable care and vital assistance to patients. In spite of fatigue and the threat to their own health, nurses soldier on in combat against this invisible enemy. Often the first to treat patients in our hospitals, they provide critical support to doctors, alleviating burdens throughout our healthcare system. They are adaptable and capable of enduring and overcoming unbearable hardship, immeasurable stress, tremendously long hours, and extreme mental and emotional exhaustion so that others may live. Nurses are awe-inspiring and truly worthy of admiration and praise.”
It is also important to think about how we can recognize nurses 365 days a year. A list of 13 Things Nurses Want, was posted in an article by Onward Healthcare. Several of the items listed included: respect, safe nurse staffing, realistic expectations from staff and patients, adequate supplies, consistent shift scheduling and a simple “thank you”. Let’s remember that all year long, these men and women have dedicated their lives to serve others. Often, they work in stressful, fast-paced conditions helping people who are suffering which can cause fatigue and discouragement. From patients and staff, a good dose of appreciation can go a long way to lift a nurse’s spirits and improve their overall health and ability to do a good job.
For employers, providing a fully staffed work environment can make a huge difference in your healthcare team’s ability to provide quality patient care. Also, offering consistent shift schedules helps to reduce the stress nurses encountered when faced with scheduling childcare and managing family and personal commitments.
All of the staff at Medical Temporaries agree that “nursing is not merely a vocation; it is a special calling to serve others selflessly, particularly in times when help is needed most.” as noted in the President’s proclamation.
Note for Healthcare Facilities: As we get through the fight against coronavirus and start re-opening medical facilities across Hampton Roads, Medical Temporaries is here to provide temporary and long term support. Not sure if you’ll need a full permanent staff right away due to the effects of the pandemic? We’ll be your resource for temporary staff until you know for sure.