International Nurses Day To Promote Health

International Nurses Day has been celebrated since 1974 and is an important date to recognize the work of this group of health professionals who are in direct contact with patients.
International Nurses Day To Promote Health

Last update: 11 October, 2021

International Nurses Day was established in 1974 but one can trace it back to 1965 as people were already celebrating it without declaring a specific day for it.

The original initiative came from a U.S. government official during President Eisenhower’s administration. The body became the International Council of Nurses (ICN) nearly a decade later and instituted the annual celebration.

Not all countries adhere to International Nurses Day on the same day, though. In fact, some geographical areas have their own specific days to celebrate nurses.

In any case, the meaning and the figure behind International Nurses Day kind of always falls on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. This is why they chose her as a reference.

For instance, the slogan for 2021 was “A Vision for Future Healthcare;” while the previous year coincided with the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of it being the International Year of Nursing. It also commemorated the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birthday.

Florence Nightingale and International Nursing Day

The figure of Florence Nightingale is inescapable in the nursing profession. She was born in Florence, Italy, to wealthy parents on May 12, 1820.

Her social position hindered her vocation to become a nurse. This is because this type of work was reserved for lower-class or working-class women at the time. The plan for Nightingale was, as per her family wishes, was for her to pursue cultural studies and marry well.

Despite their opposition, Florence became a nurse and had a prominent role as such in the Crimean War, where she landed in 1854. Her role was to administer a field hospital for those wounded in the war.

Her health management activities there were instrumental in her career. She decreased the high mortality of wounded soldiers by applying basic measures of hygiene, organization, ventilations, and wound healing. In fact, she changed the morbid evolution of many men with few but precise decisions.

Later, she received the Royal Red Cross in England in 1883 and the Order of Merit in 1907. Then, she died three years later. Her figure was forever linked to nursing worldwide ever since.

A person attending to a patient.
Nurses commemorate Florence Nightingale as a pioneer of their profession.

What’s nursing?

In the context of International Nurses Day, and looking back at the history of Florence Nightingale, it’s worth wondering what exactly is nursing. What are its functions? This is because there’s a tendency to underestimate such a relevant activity.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this profession encompasses health care for all ages and all social groups, sick or healthy. This means there are no limits to it and it isn’t an activity specific to sick populations. In fact, nursing plays a key role in disease prevention.

Nevertheless, the care of patients is its main role. A major problem looms in public health in countries that don’t have an adequate number of nurses per patient bed.

The qualities of nurses

A person attending to a patient.
Nursing is key in healthcare systems.

There are many qualities in this profession. International Nurses Day is a review of these qualities and illustrates the importance of these professionals within healthcare systems. It’s pretty much impossible to think of healthcare establishments without them.

Of all of those involved in patient care, nurses have an incredible capacity for flexibility. Their schedules tend to be rotating, and people require their full attention at any given moment. Not to mention the weekends many of them devote to their duties …

In terms of communication, they’re usually the first and last ones to listen to sick people in pain. They listen to them and offer advice, generating empathy without which the profession would be impossible.

This brings the need for noticeable emotional stability. It isn’t easy to sustain the concerns of others, especially in the healthcare field, let alone in patients who may be terminally ill. Nurses don’t only listen to patients but also lend a friendly ear to the families of the latter.

International Nurses Day is about recognition

Both governments and communities at large can use this day to recognize the importance of nurses. Their role is key in building health systems, and their dedication is beyond dispute.

There are various activities taking place in this year’s International Nurses Day and you can even join them virtually if you’re still under lockdown. Let nurses know how important they are to the world!

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