The International Council of Nurses (ICN) in America started the event in 1965, though it was not officially recognized by the US Government until 1974.
In 1999 nurses and public sector employees union UNISON mounted a campaign to change the date and remove the historical importance of Florence Nightingale from Nurses Week because they felt that she no longer reflected modern day nursing because of her class and social background. They thought that she was not in keeping with the multi-cultural nature of modern nursing. Unison suggested the day be celebrated on 21 May which was the birthday of Elizabeth Fry. She was a 19th century reformer who founded the Institution of Nursing Sisters several years before Florence Nightingale set up her own nursing team. She went on to improve the life of the mentally ill and made many reforms in hospitals.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) disagreed with this campaign and were backed by many more nurses who felt that Florence Nightingale was an important founder of modern nursing and should rightly be remembered and celebrated on International Nurses Day.
Each year, on the 12th of May, nurses celebrate nursing and raise the profile of their work in a variety of ways and events. Few can say they are untouched by the hard work and dedication of nurses throughout the world and International Nurses Day is an opportunity to learn about the work of nurses and their workplaces. It is also a day for nurses worldwide to celebrate their profession and unite to take pride in their jobs and show the world the importance of their work.
International Nurses Day is a chance to celebrate nurses and their contribution to the health of society. Each year, the International Council of Nurses chooses a theme for International Nurses Day discussions.
International Nurses Day themes:
· 2012: Closing the gap: from evidence to action
· 2011: Closing the gap: increasing access and equity
· 2010: delivering quality, serving communities, nurses leading chronic care.
· 2009: Delivering quality serving communities, nurses leading care innovations.
· 2008: Delivering quality, serving communities, nurses leading primary health care
· 2007: positive practice environment: quality workplace quality patient care
· 2006: Safe staffing saves life
· 2005: Counterfeits kills
· 2004: Working with the poor against poverty
· 2003: Nurses fighting aids stigma: caring for all
· 2002: Nurses always there for you: caring for families.