National Nurses Week is celebrated every year beginning on May 6 and ending on May 12. However, this year, the American Nurses Association has expanded the recognition to the entire month of May. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” in honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale.
With more than 3.8 million registered nurses (RNs) nationwide, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession.
What is a nurse? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a nurse is a person who cares for the sick; a licensed health-care professional who practices independently or is supervised by a physician, surgeon, or dentist who is skilled in promoting or maintaining health. While that may scratch the surface of describing a nurse, no one-line definition can come close to encompassing the diverse and complex role of this profession.
Nurses wear many hats. On top of providing healthcare in a wide variety of settings, they are educators, advocates, and counselors for their patients. They assess, diagnose, plan, implement, and evaluate the care they provide.
Nurses are also trusted. For 18 years in a row, Americans have rated the honesty and ethics of nurses as highest among a list of professionals in the annual Gallup poll.
How do you become a nurse? Most registered nurses today enter practice with a baccalaureate degree from a four-year university or an associate degree from a community college. Many nurses also continue their education to pursue advanced level degrees. In 2018, 17% of RNs in the US held a master’s degree and 2% had a doctoral degree. Visit the American Nurses Association (ANA) website for more information on becoming a nurse.
As a tribute to nursing, The Johnson and Johnson Foundation highlights some of the ways nurses throughout history have made a difference in this short video.
Nursing is no easy feat. It requires knowledge, skill, drive, and compassion. Take time to thank a nurse this week for the difference they are making!