International Nurses Day 2024: Date, history, significance

International Nurses Day 2024: Here's all you need to know about the date, history and significance of International Nurses Day

The practice of nursing has been in existence since ancient times but it was the legendary Florence Nightingale who promoted the formal nursing profession as we know it today and to commemorate her birth anniversary, International Nurses Day is celebrated each year in May. Florence Nightingale is perhaps the most famous nurse across the world who is also known as the founder of modern nursing for her work on the improvement of the health sector.

Date:

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, at Florence in Italy hence, International Nurses Day is celebrated each year on May 12.

 

History and significance:

Apart from being known as the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was an English social reformer and statistician. Not only did she contribute immensely to the improvement of the health sector, she also penned over 150 books, pamphlets, and reports on health-related issues.

She is often referred to as the 'Lady with the lamp' and is remembered for taking care of wounded soldiers of the British army during the Crimean War, fought between 1853 and 1856. In 1907, she was awarded the order of merit, becoming the first woman to ever receive this honour.

She opened a nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London in 1860, thus laying the foundation of professional nursing and giving the job a favourable reputation. Having an aptitude for mathematics from an early age, she later became a pioneer in the visual representation of information such as pie charts -- which at the time was a relatively new method of presenting data. Pie charts were first developed by William Playfair in 1801.

The iconic “Lady with the Lamp” ushered in the era of educated and compassionate professional nurses and her efforts were instrumental in starting nursing training in India at St Stevens Hospital in Delhi in 1867. Nightingale, Clara Barton (founder of American Red Cross), Mary Ezra Mahoney (the first ever African-American nursing college graduate) and Virginia Lynch (regarded as the mother of Forensic nursing) are globally renowned for their contributions to nursing.

In its infancy, nursing was primarily focused on treatment of soldiers injured in wars or during times of epidemics but with the passage of time, it has evolved into a multi-dimensional and critical area of healthcare globally. Nurses are today, the wheels that propel the healthcare vehicle forward.

The mention of the word ‘Nurse’ conjures up the image of a compassionate lady in white uniform who selflessly attends to patients. Administering IV fluids, ensuring that the patients take their medicines on time and monitoring their health, nurses perform numerous duties hence, it is appropriate that they are usually referred to as ‘Sister’ because irrespective of the age, region or religion of the patient, the nurses treat everyone with care and compassion

A step short of being the physicians, modern nurses practice a lot of specialities and they also have varying degrees of authority to prescribe medicines. With the diversified nature of requirements, the modern nursing services and the role of nurses have been rapidly changing and in many areas, the age-old conventions are being replaced by contemporary need-based considerations.

In countries such as the UK and USA, nurse specialists are even authorised in many states to diagnose medical conditions and prescribe medications or treatment therapies in consultation with qualified doctors. In India, the profession of nursing is highly respected and critical force multiplier due to the paucity of qualified doctors while the scope and range of services offered by nurses has only expanded with the emergence of private healthcare operators and to acknowledge all of this, International Nurses Day is celebrated each.

 

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