Every year, May 12 is celebrated as International Nurses Day. The theme of International Nurses Day 2021 is ‘Nursing the world to health’. The day is observed each year on the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale and to celebrate the contributions nurses have made to the society. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have been the most active and the visible frontline force in the fight against the pandemic.

International Nurses Day 2021: Origin and history

The idea of having a day to celebrate nurses and their efforts was implemented by the International Council of Nurses. Since 1965 May 12 has been marked as the International Nurses Day making the 2021 iteration of the day, its 56th anniversary.

Back in 1953 though, US President Dwight Eisenhower was approached by Dorothy Sutherland, a US Department of Health, Education and Welfare official to proclaim a “Nurses’ Day”. But to the disappointment of Dorothy and the nursing community, the US President chose to not approve of the idea.

It took a few more years for the nursing community to get their share of credit and 1974 marked the first time May 12 was chosen as Nurses Day as it was the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, a reformer and arguably the founder of modern nursing.

International Nurses Day 2021: Theme

The theme for this year’s nurses day is ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead – A Vision for future healthcare’. The nursing community on this day will be looking at different aspects nurses face and how nurses can help make significant changes to the future of healthcare.

Since the onset of the COVID-19, several countries across the world have come to a halt. The citizens of those countries are deeply affected by the virus and its implications. Loved ones have been lost and economic calamity has been brought upon several households.

According to the International Council of Nurses though, the different aspects of what nurses stand for are still the same. “Now more than ever, health, economies and societies are heavily influenced by nurses who are on the frontlines battling COVID-19 whilst continuing to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare,” states the council.

Due to the pandemic, the healthcare workers and the infrastructure are stretched and stressed. However, the nursing community, which is at the frontlines, is responding to the pandemic with disruption and innovation. According to the ICN, “As the largest provider of healthcare services, nurses are leading this revolution of the healthcare system.”

The 2021 edition of Nurses Day will have the nursing community look back and introspect on the COVID-19 impact on the health care system and how nursing community can affect healthcare future.

The ICN’s is of the opinion that the world needs to know about the positive impact of contributions made by nurses and that there should be widespread investment in training more nurses. Further, ICN also wants the world to spread the word on the importance of nurses across the world through social media and other resources.

“As careers, healers, educators, leaders and advocates, nurses are fundamental to the provision of safe, accessible and affordable care,”

-states the ICN.

Who is Florence Nightingale?


Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 in Italy. She is to date known as one of the most important figures that had strong impact in health care and nursing. In 1853, Florence started her work as a nurse at London’s Harley Street Nursing Home. She made several modern improvements such as training more nurses, creating a lift to bring patients their food, and more. She also became the superintendent of the hospital.

In 1854, Nightingale along with 38 other nurses that were under her wing went to Crimea during the beginning of the Crimean War. Again, she put modern practices into place there. The hospital where she worked saw its condition dramatically improved and the hospital was sanitized and well managed.

It is known how Florence made the rounds of the battlefield on a horse with an oil lamp to see if someone needs caring and. With an oil lamp in her hand, she visited patients and thus she started being called “Lady with the Lamp”.

For her immense contribution in modernizing the nursing field, she was awarded the Royal Red Cross by the Queen of England, Queen Victoria in 1883.