International Nurses Day - May 12, 2024

International Nurses Day
Last Updated on: 25 Nov 2022

What is International Nurses Day? 

International Nurses Day is an annual international observance of the birth anniversary of the founding scholar of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. The day honors the contributions and efforts of nurses around the world.

Florence Nightingale, a British nurse, served the injured soldiers of the Crimean War in the 1850s. People know her as the "Lady with the Lamp" because she often tended to soldiers with a lamp at night.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) founded the event in 1974 to highlight the importance of nurses in health care. The important event has a different theme each year with a different cause.

International Nurses Day All Quick Overview

  • Time / Date: May 12
  • Category: Appreciation
  • Where It’s Marked: Globally
  • Why It’s Marked: The day celebrates the contributions of nurses to society and honors them for their work, which is often unappreciated.

History Of International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day

Although International Nurses Day was established in 1974, ICN celebrated it in 1965 before people even recognized it. Florence Nightingale became the ambassador of the day for her outstanding contributions to the nursing sector in the 1850s.

She nursed wounded soldiers at the Barrack Hospital at Scutari during the Crimean War. She was the head of a nurse group then, but before she was stationed at the hospital, the condition of the place was dreadful. She noticed that the facilities were unclean and lacked proper instruments for care. She ordered her group to keep the area clean and the wards well stocked with medical supplies and food.

From Nightingale’s experience at the Barrack Hospital, she started a campaign for health care and nursing reform. Later in 1860, she managed to open a nursing school named “Nightingale School of Nursing” at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. Soon the school became successful for its outstanding learning facilities, leading to the establishment of similar nursing schools worldwide.

Some of the earliest nurse training schools were Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary (now Sydney Hospital), established in 1868, the Bellevue Training School for Nurses in New York in 1873, and a nursing school in Fuzhou, China, established in 1888. These nursing schools have been providing extraordinary nursing training and providing a platform for the growth and advancement of modern nursing.

Dorothy Sutherland, an official of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, proposed in 1953 that “Nurses’ Day” be announced, but President Dwight D. Eisenhower refused. Later, in January 1974, ICN chose May 12 as International Nurses Day as it was Florence Nightingale's birthday. Each year, the International Council of Nurses arranges many activities and distributes the International Nurses’ Day Kit.

How to Celebrate International Nurses Day

The International Council of Nurses celebrates International Nurses Day with great honor. Every year, there is a theme for the day, and the events take place likewise.

ICN commemorates the day by producing and distributing various educational and promotional materials. These materials are necessary nurse kits that can help them in their work and help to improve patient health, and introduce advancement in the field of health care on national and international levels.

Not only that, but it also helps raise awareness of the nursing profession and its contribution to the economic sector. Moreover, it helps to speak out against inadequate pay and work conditions.

International Nurses Day's theme supports and addresses the nursing sector's current issues. For example, in 2019, the theme was “Nurses: A Voice to Lead—Health for All,” in 2020, it was “Nurses: A Voice to Lead—Nursing the World to Health," and in 2021, it was "Nurses: A Voice to Lead - A Vision for Future Healthcare." In 2022, the Internation Nurses Day theme was "Nurses: Make a Difference" to raise awareness of their poor work conditions and importance in the health sector.

Internation Nurses Day is often a weeklong event called National Nurses Week in Australia, the U.S., and many other countries. In the U.S., the week starts on May 6 and ends on May 12. In Australia, nurses are presented with various awards during ceremonies.

A ceremony is held annually at Westminster Abbey in London in the United Kingdom. Nurses pass a lamp from the Nurses’ Chapel in Abbey to honor Nightingale. Lastly, the lamp is passed to the Dean, who then places it on the High Alter.

Countries that observe International Nurses Day

Over 120 countries around the world observe International Nurses Day.

Interesting facts about International Nurses Day

There are some interesting facts about International Nurses Day and nurses in general that we all should know about. We have mentioned a few of them below.

  1. May 12, 2022, was the 202nd birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale.
  2. Although International Nurses Day is celebrated worldwide, it is not a public holiday.
  3. Linda Richards was the first to earn a Nursing diploma in the U.S. in 1873.
  4. Many believe the first nursing school in history was in India in 250 B.C.
  5. The number of nurses in the world is around 27.8 million.

Unique International Nurses Day celebration ideas

International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day is an important day for everyone and the nurses working hard, day and night, for our well-being. Here are some celebration ideas for the day.

  1. Give flowers to the nurses working in your nearby hospital. It will make them happy and feel appreciated.
  2. If you have a friend or family member who is a nurse, throw them a surprise party on the day. They will be more than happy to be appreciated.
  3. Next time you visit the hospital,  say a simple “thank you” to your assigned nurse for the work.

International Nurses Day Quotes

On International Nurses Day, wish the nurses who have been working hard to keep us healthy. They deserve it!

“Nurses dispense comfort, compassion, and care without even a prescription." - Val Saintsbury

 “Our job as nurses is to cushion the sorrow and celebrate the joy, every day, while we are ‘just doing our jobs." - Christine Belle

"Even though your contribution deserves to be celebrated, allow us to show our gratitude for your service on this special occasion. Happy Nurses Day!"


1. Why do we celebrate International Nurses Day?

We celebrate International Nurses Day to appreciate all the nurses worldwide and Florence Nightingale, who made modern nursing possible.

Who is the first male nurse?

The first state-registered male nurse was George Dunn of Liverpool, who took training in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

How do we celebrate International Nurses Day?

Countries celebrate events differently, like organizing ceremonies, seminars, award presentations, and lamp-passing events.

International Nurses Day Observances

2021Wednesday12 MayInternational Nurses Day
2022Thursday12 MayInternational Nurses Day
2023Friday12 MayInternational Nurses Day
2024Sunday12 MayInternational Nurses Day
2025Monday12 MayInternational Nurses Day
2026Tuesday12 MayInternational Nurses Day

We constantly update the dates of holidays that keep changing every year. However, while we revise and change some dates to be accurate, if you find any errors, kindly inform us . That will mean a lot to us.

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