Happy Birthday Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). In honor of the British nurse we celebrate on 12 May the International Nurses Day (also: International Day of professional nurses or: Day of nurses English. International Nurses Day – ICN ). This article examines what this transnational day of honor for nursing and nursing professions in the health sector is all about and why it deserves a permanent place in the calendar of curious holidays from all over the world.
Why does International Nursing Day fall on May 12th?
Nursing Day goes back to the birthday of the British nurse Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) on May 12, 1820, who is considered to be the pioneer of modern nursing (see also the other articles in the calendar of curious birthdays ).
At least five interesting facts to know about Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale is revered in Great Britain for her work during the Crimean War and, due to this time, also operates under the name Lady with the Lamp , as she often nursed and treated the wounded in the light of a kerosene lamp during her assignments in the field hospital.
- The Lady with the Lamp is named after her place of birth. Like their older sister Parthenope, Nightingale baptized their younger daughter with the name of the Italian city in which she was born: Florence or Florence.
- Her parents rejected the career of a nurse as a career for their daughter. During Nightingale’s lifetime, the profession of nurse had little social acceptance. The job was considered a typical occupation for the lower class and was often associated with prostitution. Accordingly, Florence had to do a lot of convincing her parents before she got their permission. Fortunately, from today’s perspective, her parents gave in.
- She trained America’s first nurse: Linda Richards attended Bellevue Training School before traveling to London to complete her nurse training at her Nursing School under Nightingale. With her graduation, the foundation stone for the training of modern nursing in the medical field was also laid.
- Florence Nightingale mastered six languages: The British woman was not only active in nursing but was also fluent in English, French, German and Italian and also had a good knowledge of Latin and ancient Greek.
- She owned a stuffed owl. Nightingale rescued her beloved owl from a group of teenagers playing in the street and had her feathered friend stuffed when she died.
May 12th in the calendar of curious holidays
As is customary in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, the birthday, not the day of death of the person being honored, is always used as the date for such a day of action, celebration or remembrance. Accordingly, there are to this international day of care probably only conditional content related to crimes committed in parallel on May 12, International Day of multiple chemical sensitivity (Engl. International Awareness Day for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity), the US day of the odometer ( National Odometer Day), the day of Limerick (English National Limerick Day) or the British day of the cucumber (English National Cucumber Day).
Who started International Nurses Day?
The International Nurses Day goes back to the initiative of the International Council of Nurses (ICN – dt. World Federation of Nurses or Nurses) from the year 1965. The ICN is an amalgamation of more than 130 national nursing associations (NNAs), which represents the interests of more than 20 million nurses worldwide. Since January 1974 this event has had the status of an officially recognized, international day of action (see also the list of related links below).
The US National Nurse Week and the establishment of International Nurses Day in 1974
Accordingly, the international celebrations for this International Day of Nurses and Nurses are widespread. In addition to May 12th as International Nurses Day, a whole week of action has been established in some countries around the concerns of professional carers. The United States and Canada celebrate National Nurse Week every year, which begins with National Nurses Day on May 6th and culminates on May 12th (see also the list of related links below) .
The US American Nurses Day is also important for the emergence of International Nurses Day. To mark the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s pioneering work in Crimea in 1954, Dorothy Sutherland, an employee of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare, asked a year earlier to the then incumbent President Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the following year, which coincides with this anniversary. Despite Eisenhower’s refusal, the ceremony was held thanks to a bill sponsored by MP Frances P. Bolton. In 1954 a new bill was finally introduced into the lobbying of Congress,
Twenty years later, in January / February 1974, President Nixon officially proclaimed National Nurse Week from May 6th to May 12th, culminating in Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12th. This was then also taken up by the International Council of Nurses. In this way, International Nursing Day regained its status as an internationally recognized day of action in honor of the founder of modern nursing.
Aims and intention: What is the International Day of Professional Nursing about?
The International Day of Professional Nurses emphasizes the central importance of care by nurses for all people in the world. For this, the ICN stressed each year the role of nurses in this context without the medical care in the context of global health systems was simply unthinkable (see also the contributions to the US Day of doctors (Engl. National Women Physicians Day) on February 3 and the World First aid Day (dt. World Day of first aid ) on the second Saturday in September).
In short, access to medical care is inconceivable and even more impractical without professional nursing staff. The 2020 rampant COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of health care very clear to the global public.
With that in mind: Happy Birthday Florence Nightingale and thanks to everyone out there who works in this field.