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International Nurses Day

Observed around the world, International Nurses Day highlights the important role nurses fulfill in health care and the contributions they make to society. The day also commemorates the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. It is held on May 12th, the anniversary of Nightingale's birth.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) began observing International Nurses Day in 1965 and reinforced its celebration in 1974 when they placed it on Nightingale's birthday. The ICN makes educational and public information materials available each year, which highlight the work of nurses worldwide and raise awareness about issues in the nursing profession. The ICN also designates a different theme each year, which addresses an issue of importance in the nursing profession. International Nurses Day should not be confused with National Nurses Day or National Nurses Week, which both take place around the same time.

There are more than 4 million registered nurses in the United States. Nursing is a specialized profession that is built on a bedrock of compassion and dedication but also is constantly changing and adapting. Nurses are instrumental to public health through their work of diagnosing and educating. They provide care from a patient's life until their death and "use their judgment to integrate objective data with subjective experience of a patient's biological, physical and behavioral needs." They follow the nursing process of assessment, diagnosis, outcomes/planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Nurses have many specialties and a range of responsibilities, and are separated into three main divisions: registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses—which include nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists—and licensed practical nurses. Today we highlight the important roles nurses have in health care and remember their contributions to society, and we celebrate Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

How to Observe International Nurses Day

Some ways you could mark the day include:

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