Every year, the week of May 6 to May 12 is set aside to recognize the invaluable work of nurses, who are the first line of defense in the prevention of illness and injury. The end of National Nurses Week coincides with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is the founder of modern medicine.
The permanent dates of National Nurses Week were established in 1990, although President Ronald Reagan had signed a proclamation in 1982 declaring May 6 National Recognition Day for Nurses. Even earlier than that, the first National Nurse Week was observed in 1954 from October 11-16. Although a bill was introduced the following year, no action was taken.
Nurses are often considered to be among the most honest and ethical workers in America, according to Gallup’s annual poll. In recognition of nurses’ adherence to the obligations, values, and ideals of the profession, the theme for the 2015 National Nurses Week is “Ethical Practice. Quality Care.”
“Nurses make ethical decisions every day and help patients do the same,” Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Association of Nurses (ANA), said in a statement. “As nurses make decisions, they are practicing at the highest ethical standard, both for the work they do and how they actually support patients and families in the right to self-determination and the care they receive.”
In honor of this year’s theme, the ANA is updating the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements for the first time since 2001. The association is also working to improve nurses work environments through advocacy for legislation to ensure optimal staffing to meet patient care needs and engagement of a panel to make recommendations on preventing and reducing dangerous and disruptive behaviors.
“Nurses Week is a great opportunity to educate policymakers and the public about nurses’ contributions and their expertise,” Ms Cipriano said.