What You Don't Know About National Nurses Week (May 6-12)

What You Don't Know About National Nurses Week (May 6-12)


May 06, 2008

We appreciate you nurses. Recognition and gratitude is what National Nurses week is all about. But why this week of all weeks? There is a reason, and it ties into the history of our profession.

National Nurses Week coincides with Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12. Many consider Nightingale the founder of modern nursing.

The history of Nurses Week began in 1953 when Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare sent the proposal to President Eisenhower. In 1974, President Nixon proclaimed a “National Nurse Week.” The celebration of National Hospital Week began in 1921 when a magazine editor suggested that more information about hospitals might alleviate public fears about them. That is how it all started.

In celebration of our profession, we have compiled the latest statistics about nursing in America. Here’s what nursing looks like today.

Nurses in the United States

2.4 million
Registered Nurses

Percentage of registered nurses who are women


Projected growth in the number of registered nurses between 2002 and 2012. It is expected that registered nurses will experience the largest job growth of any occupation during this time period.

Number of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Number of nurses per 100,000 residents in Massachusetts, the highest rate among states. (The District of Columbia has 1,498.) Nevada, with 517, has the lowest rate.

1.8 million
Number of nursing, psychiatric and home health aides.

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