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Nurses Week-Celebrate with your Favorite Nurse

Updated on May 2, 2012

Florence Nightingale

Since 1965, the International Nurses Council annually recognizes the efforts of all nurses from the week of May 6 through May 12th, designating May 6th as National Nurses Day. Why those dates? Because, the weeklong celebration cumulates on the birth date of Florence Nightingale, the founder of the science of nursing.

Florence Nightingale was born in England May 12, 1820 and tended to the sick soldiers during the Crimean War. It was during this time that reference was made to her as the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ due to her late night rounds with the sick soldiers. In the United Kingdom, the lamp symbolizes nursing, as established by Florence Nightingale, and in a May 12th ceremony, in Westminster Abbey, a symbolic lamp is passed from nurse to nurse.

In 1860, Nightingale set up the first nursing school called the Nightingale Training School, which is known today as the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery. She established caring for the sick, while also tending to the environment in the hospital. Her book, Notes on Nursing, published in 1859, was a manual of information to aid all who practiced the care and well being of others. In its time, there was no other manual like it.

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Nursing takes Heart
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Advance Practice Nurses

The American Nurses Association, (ANA), honors nurses in all areas and all levels of education, during Nurses Week. This is done through special programs, workshops, speakers, banquets, and hospital events. Each year the ANA chooses a theme that dominates the celebration. The theme for 2011 is: ‘Nurses Trusted to Care’.

In my opinion, this is an appropriate focus, because of the emphasis on patient safety. According to a Gallup Poll, as reported by Nursing World, the nursing profession has held the title of being the most trusted profession for eleven years, with the exception of 2001 when firefighters won the title. Teachers were rated in the top three, after firefighters.

In 2012 the theme for Nurses Week is 'Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring.' This is very applicable to the changes that have been developing in the past decade. More nurses are returning to school for their Advanced Practice degrees. New graduates are continuuing their education and moving into roles as Clinical Nurse Specialists or Nurse Practioners. Now, an ambitious nurse can achieve a Doctorate of Science Degree in Nursing.

And, while 'caring and advocacy' have been two cornerstones of the nursing profession, 'leadership' has often been thwarted by the mindset that the nurse 'follows' the doctor's orders. There are still many stereotypes about nurses that are challenging, through the entertainment world, as well as within society as a whole. On a personal level, I cannot count the number of times I, and a fellow nurse-male, would walk in to assess a patient, only later to have that patient ask if "the doctor ordered anything for..." Indignant, I would 'correct' the patient and explain that my co-worker was a nurse, just like me.

I will be celebrating 28 years of being a nurse this May, 2012, and my career has taken me to many places and doing many things. It is a versatile profession that has a lot to offer anyone interested in science, medicine or people.

Fictional nurses in a negative light

Nurses have not always been portrayed favorably on television or in movies. The Hugh Hefner mentality was to sexualize a nurse, and cartoons and movies have depicted nurses in short, tight uniforms with exposed endowed breasts, ministering to the sick by mere handholding. Hospital soaps have further shamed the profession, with characters that have been submissive, doctor chasing, bimbos.

In the movie, M.A.S.H., Major Margaret Houlihan, (Hotlips Houlihan), set high standards for herself and the nurses she led. However bright and intelligent she may be in her profession, her character is viewed as rigid and unyielding-a frequent target of jokes.

Then, there is Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Nurse Ratched was infamous for exerting power over the patients of a mental institution, until Jack Nicholson arrived. Then, the battle of wills began. Again, she is portrayed as a rigid, cold woman without heart.

Acknowledge Your Favorite Nurse

While creating this hub, I discovered an interesting song written by Country Joe McDonald, formerly of Country Joe and the Fish. He has researched the subject of nurses for the past 20 years, much to my surprise. In fact, not only is he currently married to a nurse, but his brother is a nurse practioner. In the years of advocating for various groups associated with war, he acknowledges that he failed to support the nurses who offer service and who are often taken for granted.

If you have a favorite nurse let her know how you feel about the important work she does. If your child, especially your son, has the desire to go into the nursing profession, support that decision-it may be the best investment you have made. The next time you are in a medical environment think of the time and attention that a nurse gives to YOU as an individual case.

Happy Nurses Week to all of you hubbers who are also active or retired nurses.

'Thank the Nurse' by Country Joe McDonald


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Kim, I appreciate your comment. It isn't always easy, I haven't always enjoyed it...but when all goes right, it is rewarding. :) Enjoy your weekend.

    • ocfireflies profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina


      I can't imagine what it's like to do your job, but I admire you, nevertheless, for your willingness to do it.


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      I'm recuperating, thank you. The irony is we had extra help that day and the extra coworker had left for lunch 15 minutes earlier. Unfortunately, this isn't the first assault from patients, nor will it be the last...partially because it is the level of psychosis of these patients. Thanks for your concern.

    • ocfireflies profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina


      I am so sorry that this happened to you. My hope is that the ones who make the decisions NOTE that you are understaffed-hire some help-so this never happens again.

      Are you okay?

      Best Always,


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Kim,

      I really appreciate this comment more than ever today, as I open my computer. Just this past Sunday a patient attacked me and threw me to the floor. I hit my head so hard there's a hairline fraction. Then, she jumped on my and attempted to choke me. I barely got the word, "help" out, my voice was so low. My male co-worker ran to my rescue and all I could do was lay there and hold my head, trying to get the ringing out of my ears and keep my eyes from tearing up. I ended up in the ED being checked out by the trauma unit and stayed two nights in the hospital. Whew, what a lesson, after all these years, that ANY patient can be unpredictably violent or psychotic. Thanks again for the well wishes of service.

    • ocfireflies profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina


      First, congratulations on your many years of service.

      Second, I believe nurses are the most amazing people I know. One truly has to be special in order to do all that is expected of nurses.

      Finally, Thank You! Thank You for serving others. Thank You for being you!

      Best Always,


      PS--I realize I may have missed Nurses Appreciation Week since I am just now reading this hub, but I will mark it on my calendar so as to not miss it next year.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Gail-Happy Nurses Week approaching to you as well. Funny that you pulled this one out of the back closet, haha, I was just thinking of updating it and sending it off. You are a sweetheart to share it, thanks!

      Hi Bill-thank you. This was last years hub so I am actually approaching my 28th anniversary!! My how time flies, haha.

      Hi Peggy-thanks for the will be 28 this month! Congratulations to you as know what goes on behind the scenes. :) I appreciate the votes and share.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Denise,

      Let me offer more congratulations on your 27 years of service in the nursing profession. I am a retired RN also and know the kind of dedication it takes to do that most important of jobs. Kudos to all the good nurses out there everywhere. Our lives literally depend upon their good judgement! Up votes and SHARING this!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great hub! God bless the nurses! I congratulate you on twenty-seven years of doing a wonderful job with compassion for your fellow man. There will always be a place in my heart for nurses!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Just stopping by to wish you a Happy 28th Nursing Anniversary and Happy 2012 Nurse's Week. I know you're a nurse who is dedicated to quality patient care and works exremely hard.

      Am sharing this hub as it's not only interesting, but a nice reminder to others who know of a favorite nurse who would enjoy being acknowledged for the hard work they do.

      Hub Hugs,


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Vinodkpillai-thank you for the congratulations. I laughed when I read the last line of your comment. Funny! Thanks for stopping by-I haven't been reading much of anyone's hubs due to the April hubchallenge, (which just ended). I'll be by soon to read your latest works.

    • Vinodkpillai profile image


      9 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Twenty seven years is a long time - Congratulations, Denise! Beautiful hub - it reminded me of the wonderful nurses that I came across, particularly Mrs Mackenzie who was a nurse in our College hospital. She was competent and charming and would ensure that we recovered in no time. But once we were out, we would often remember her and secretly wish we could fall sick again!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Mamelody-First, let me apologize on behalf of the cruel nurses you had the unfortunate experiences with. After being in this field for over two decades I have seen all kinds. It is like any other profession or job-we are still people behind the uniform, so there are good and bad walking the floors. Not to judge anyone, but our personalities are brought into our workplace. So, if your experience was one where a person in authority (the nurse) withheld what you needed or was harsh in treating you, that is a reflection of who he or she is as a person when they return home.

      Second-thank you very much for the congrats.

      Third-I have worked for some excellent nurse managers, and Nurse Ratchet types. I prefer the first, of course, but can't seem to avoid the second. I think the position of power goes to some people's heads!

      Thanks for your comments.

    • Mamelody profile image


      9 years ago

      unfortunately, I had a bad experience with nurses and although that shouldn't cloud my judgement of them, sometimes I still think all nurses are cruel..

      Nevertheless, I respect the profession and anyone venturing to be a nurse is very brave. So Happy Nurse Day to you too!!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Gail, Happy Nurses Week to you!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for this beautiful tribute to nurses and for your 27 years of service in this rewarding, yet also demanding and draining profession.

      I enjoyed reading the history about Florence Nightingale and the origins of Student Nurses Day and Nurses Week and voted this hub up, useful, awesome and beautiful.

      I hope readers do take time to acknowledge their favorite nurse with a special card or gift.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Kathi-thanks for the congratulations. :) Oh, Nurse Ratchet really made nurses look bad. I've been called that once or twice (I work Psych) when I've set limits with manipulative, anti-social patients, LOL

      B-thanks for your feedback. Congrats to your neice. I hope she finds a niche that she will enjoy.

      Hi Ruby-thanks for your comments. You are so right about Nurse Ratchet making us all look bad. I'm sure you have many stories to share about your nursing days.

      Happy Nurses Week to you.

      Danette-thanks for your comments. :) Hugs to you.

      Credence2--love your comment. Good for you!

      Kath-Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm always amazed at the versatality of nursing. Put a roomful of nurses together and they cover a wide spectrum of experiences.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Dahoglund-I understand your feelings with the confusing uniforms. It can be frustrating, as a patient who does not have medical experience, to try to 'figure out' who is who when it all looks the same. Visible badges above the waist is one policy our hospital holds us to. As more and more stress is placed on nurses and other medical personnel, it can be very taxing, but...well, I suppose we know what we are getting into as we prepare for this career. My ideal shift would be an 8 hr one, b/c it allows for a shorter work day, more 'down time' daily, and would bring more balance to my day. We don't have that option, unfortunately. We are mandated 12 hr shifts. At least I am FINALLY on a day shift. I was doing midnight shift for four years until recently. Thanks for your comments.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Will-That is wonderfully sweet. Love your comment.

      Hi Pam-thanks. I thought of you, and many of my other hubber / nurse friends here. Happy Nurses Week!

    • Chatkath profile image


      9 years ago from California

      Yeah Denise! I am so glad you reminded me, my sister and Step Mom are both lifelong Nurses who have done some amazing things with their careers! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the timely reminder, I have a soft spot for nurses as selfless angels. I married one!!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      9 years ago from Illinois

      Nice hub. I do have a favorite nurse ;-)

      The few times I've gone through difficult health issues or a pregnancy, I've been fortunate to have excellent nurses who took good care of me.

      Like teachers, police officer and firefighters, nurses are undervalued, overworked and probably underpaid for all they have to put up with.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      9 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is great. I am a retired R.N. who loved working in that field. One of my favorite movies, 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest...Nurse Ratchet made us all look bad LOL Thank's for sharing.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      9 years ago

      Cute comment WillStarr! Seriously Nurses are such wonderful people always there when the Doctor is NOT...Sometimes she is the first person you see and sometimes the last. They truly are a treasure. My niece is going to become a Nurse and needless to say, we are all so proud of her.

    • Fossillady profile image


      9 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Thank you for sharing this article, good to know this information and congratulations on your twenty seven years of service!! Very commendable!

      PS I do remember the controlling Nurse Ratchet the most as portraying nurses in a negative light! At the end of the movie you despised her!!!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      My contact with the medical professions lately cause confusion. Everyone dresses in sort of baggy blue uniforms and not really identified as to whether they are nurses or whatever. It seems to me a demanding profession because of shift work, working weekends etc.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great article and as a retired RN this hub has special meaning to me. Very well done.

    • WillStarr profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My favorite nurse sleeps with me every night. :-)


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