Nurses have played a major role in healing humanity – from war, disease, poverty and starvation. And today, they continue to steadfastly do as they have always done: care for the sick, the injured, the infirm, the dying. National Nurses Week seeks to honor the individuals known as the heart of health care. In 2020 nurses are recognized as heroes in health care’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurses Week begins on May 6 and runs through May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday. Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 and died in 1910. She is commonly known as “The Lady with the Lamp” and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale was an English social reformer and statistician. She came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organized care for wounded soldiers. She would often make rounds of wounded soldiers at night carrying a lamp.
The Nightingale Pledge is often recited at graduation and pinning ceremonies for nurses. The pledge was named after Florence Nightingale as a token of esteem. The Nightingale Pledge was composed by Lystra Gretter, an instructor of nursing at Harper Hospital in Detroit, MI, and was first used by its spring graduating class in 1893. It is an adaptation of physicians’ Hippocratic Oath. Through the years, the wording has been adapted to make it more modern and relevant, and other versions are often used.