National Nurses Day | May 6
(Last Updated On: May 4, 2023)


National Nurses Day is observed annually on May 6th. On this day, we raise awareness of all nurse contributions and commitments and acknowledge the vital role nurses play in society. This day is also the first day of National Nurses Week and is sometimes known as National RN Recognition Day. 


National Nurses Week begins May 6th and ends on May 12th, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910).  Florence Nightingale was a celebrated English, social reformer, statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She became well-known while taking care of the wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Nightingale was dubbed The Lady with the Lamp because of her habit of making rounds at night.


Recognize nurses everywhere. Celebrate their dedication and commitment to their patients and their profession. Tell someone about the excellent care you’ve received from a nurse.

When you visit the doctor or have surgery, follow the instructions they give you, especially follow up care. Ask questions, so they know when you need more information. They can’t read your minds. 

Give nurses you know a shout out and thank them for their hard work, especially during these challenging times. 

Use #NationalNursesDay to share on social media.


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. 

Each year the American Nurses Association (ANA) chooses a theme to acknowledge the many services provided by nurses everywhere during National Nurses Week. Examples of past themes include:

2000- Nurses: Keeping the Care in Healthcare
2002 – Nurses Care for America
2003 – Nurses: Lifting Spirits, Touching Lives
2006 – Nurses: Strength, Commitment, Compassion
2015 – Ethical Practice. Quality Care.
2018 – Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence
2019 – 4 Million Reasons to Celebrate
2020 – Nurses: A Voice to Lead


May 6th Celebrated History


The United States Patent Office issued the first U.S. patent (No. 8080) for the mechanical refrigerator to American inventor John Gorrie.


The Exposition Universelle opens in Paris with its grand centerpiece, the Eiffel Tower finally on display. Its chief engineer and owner of the company who built the phenomenal tower, Gustave Eiffel, also designed the framework for the Statue of Liberty.


In Lakehurst, New Jersey, the hydrogen-filled dirigible called the Hindenburg burst into flames killing 35 of the 97 passengers. A Navy crewman on the ground also died that day.


British middle-distance runner Roger Bannister breaks the four-minute mile barrier for the first time in human history. He ran the one-mile race in 3 minutes, 59 seconds, 4/10 at Oxford University’s Iffley Road Track.

May 6th Celebrated Birthdays

Martin R Delany – 1812

Through his writing, the African American journalist, writer and soldier influenced perceptions on abolition and activism during his lifetime. He was an early supporter of emigration to Africa and wrote the novel Blake; or the Huts of America.

Dr. Sigmund Freud – 1856

The Austrian neurologist is the founder of psychoanalysis. During his career, Freud developed theories about the parts of human personality called the id, ego and superego, Oedipus complex, and dream analysis, among several others.

Orson Wells – 1915

Well known for his Shakespearean roles, Orson Welles also made a name for himself in radio and directing. Welles shook up the world with a radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds in 1938. In 1941, Welles set the standard for quality filmmaking with the debut of Citizen Kane.

Dr. Mukai Chiaki – 1952

On July 8, 1994, Dr. Chiaki became the first Japanese woman in space when she flew as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Columbia. Her second mission took place on October 29, 1998, aboard the space shuttle Discovery. With her second mission, she became the first Japanese citizen to travel to space twice.

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