1. Palatnik, AnneMarie MSN, RN, APN-BC

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Most of us spend May 6 to 12 involved in a variety of activities to recognize and celebrate our profession. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has announced the 2010 Nurses Week theme is "Caring Today for a Healthier Tomorrow." And we do have the absolute greatest profession in the world. (Nursing consistently ranks as the most ethical profession in annual Gallup polls.) But for most of us, nursing isn't what we do, it's who we are. Each day, whether we're at work or not, we make a difference in people's lives. Every day that we care for our patients, we get to make an enormous difference-especially those days when we help a patient avert death.

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I feel that our profession should be celebrated every day, not just for a single week in May. But this year is actually a little different, as it's the 100th anniversary of the death of Florence Nightingale, one of the greatest contributors to our profession. This piqued my curiosity, and I decided to do a little research into the history of Nurses Week. Here's what I found:


1953: The concept of a "Nurse Day" was proposed to President Dwight Eisenhower by Dorothy Sutherland, an official in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.


1954: National Nurses Week was observed from October 11 to 16. This year marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's work in the Crimean War.


1965: The International Council of Nurses started celebrating International Nurses Day on May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday.


1974: President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation designating National Nurses Week.


1978: New Jersey Gov. Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as Nurses Day.


1982: The ANA formally recognized May 6 as National Nurses Day.


1982: President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring May 6 as National Recognition Day for Nurses.


1990: The ANA expanded the recognition and declared May 6 to 12 as National Nurses Week.


I think about the influences that Florence Nightingale had on our profession, and remember reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge during my pinning ceremony. This pledge, composed in 1893 by Lystra E. Gretter, is a modification of the Hippocratic Oath, and is still used during many nursing school graduation celebrations.


I hope that this editorial helps you to become a bit nostalgic and to rejuvenate the same level of pride and excitement for our profession that you felt on your graduation day. Until the next time: be healthy, be happy, and be great advocates for your patients.


AnneMarie Palatnik, MSN, RN, APN-BC

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Director of Clinical Learning Center for Learning Virtua Health Mount Laurel, N.J.