International Nurses Day: Why we celebrate on Florence Nightingale’s birthday

International Nurses Day: What is it and how can you celebrate?

Happy International Nurses Day (Picture: Getty)

With all the recent NHS controversies, International Nurses Day seems more important than ever this year – but you probably still haven’t heard of it.

Luckily, we’re here to explain what it is and how important it is.

Why May 12th?

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) chose May 12th for International Nurses Day because it is Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Ah, the founder of modern nursing!

Yes, although some people disagree. In 1999 UNISON petitioned the ICN to change the date, as they felt that Florence Nightingale was not representative of modern nursing.

However, the date stuck.

Does the day celebrate all nurses?

Yes, all nurses across the world.

Although there are separate days that celebrate student nurses (8th May) and School Nurse Day, which this year fell on 11th May.

How is it celebrated?

Every year the ICN picks a theme – this year’s theme is ‘Nurses: A force for change – Improving health systems’ resilience’.

#NHSMillion – People are sharing all the reasons we need the National Health Service

They then create and distribute an information kit to nurses and health institutes, which provides valuable information and advice to help nurses do their job in an ever-changing industry.

Are there any special events for it?

Florence Nightingale, whose birthday International Nurses Day takes place on (Picture: Getty Images)

Florence Nightingale, whose birthday International Nurses Day takes place on (Picture: Getty Images)

There’s always a service at Westminster Abbey in honour of International Nurses Day. In it a lantern is symbolically passed from one nurse to the next, to represent the passing on of knowledge between nurses, until finally the Dean places it on the altar.

Why do nurses need a special day?

Nurses make up the single largest group of health professionals, and, in the UK, are on a salary between £21,695 – £28,180, unless they’re a team leader, at which point the salary goes a little higher.

Their starting salary is less than half that of a Tube driver, for instance, and yet they’re the people responsible for everything from giving your child their booster jabs to nursing your grandparents through their final days, while keeping you alive in the meantime.

It’s nice to give them some acknowledgement from time to time.

What can I do for International Nurses Day?

Well, the event is mostly aimed at people within the industry.

If you’re not a nurse but you want to show your appreciation for them, then you can support them by posting on social media to raise awareness of International Nurses Day.

If you’re a teacher, then 12th May would be a good time to teach your pupils about what nurses do.

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