Why Is Florence Nightingale’s Birth Anniversary Celebrated as International Nurses Day?


INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY 2022: International Nurses Day is observed on May 12 annually to highlight the vital, life-saving contribution of nurses across the world. Nurses provide essential healthcare, from assisting doctors to treating patients who are recovering or dying in hospitals or at home. Nurses are also educators and teach those aiming to join the nursing profession. International Nurses Day coincides with Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Below, we will see why that’s the case.

British Nurse and statistician, Florence Nightingale who was born on May 12, 1820, is celebrated as the founder of modern nursing. This year is her 202nd birth anniversary. Florence provided vital support to British and allied soldiers during the Crimean War in Turkey. Nightingale emphasised the need for cleanliness and proper sanitary conditions to create a safer environment for patients and to aid in their faster recovery.

The date of celebration of International Nurses Day was chosen to celebrate Florence Nightingale’s birth anniversary and her pioneering work in nursing and social reforms. During the Crimean War (1854-1856), she volunteered to be appointed as a nurse to serve wounded soldiers. She joined as a ‘Superintendent of the Female Nurses in the Hospitals in the East,’ as per the British National Army Museum website.

It was around this time at Scutari, now Üsküdar, Turkey, where she became synonymous with “The lady with the Lamp.” The British newspaper, The Times reported that Florence was seen walking along the beds of wounded soldiers with a lamp in her hand, inspecting the men to see if they needed assistance. Throughout her life, she campaigned for nursing reforms about sanitation and highlighted to her superiors the need for trained nurses and funds for better nursing facilities.

As announced by the International Council of Nurses on their website, the theme of International Nurses Day this year is ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health.’ The theme highlights the same concerns that Florence had shared with the editor of The Times in a letter dated April 14, 1876.

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