• May 12, 1820: Florence Nightingale’s Birthday — Often dubbed “the founder of modern nursing,” Florence Nightingale believed that God called her to devote her life to the service of others. During the Crimean War, she led a team of nurses to improve unsanitary conditions in Italy and went on to write a body of literature that sparked worldwide healthcare reform. Nightingale had a serious impact on the education of nurses as we know it: She wrote the first nursing textbook in 1859 and opened the first nursing school, the Nightingale School for Nurses, in 1860.


  • September 1, 1873: Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing was Founded — It didn’t take long before Nightingale’s philosophies — to provide a safe, caring environment for patients — made it to the U.S. In 1873, the Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City became the first nursing school in the U.S. to be run on the basis of Nightingale’s principles. The school trained nurses until 1963, and the final diploma class graduated in 1969. After that, the school merged with Hunter College and now operates as the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing.  

  • Feb. 11, 1897: The American Nurses Association was Founded — Originally called the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada, the American Nurses Association (ANA) was the first organization dedicated solely to protecting registered nurses. It’s to thank for many of the modern laws that keep nurses safe and ensure fair pay, even more than 100 years after its inception. The group first came together in 1896 in New York City and was officially ratified in Baltimore on Feb. 11 and 12 of 1897. The organization was renamed the American Nurses Association in 1911.


  • Dec. 31, 1900: Congress Passes a Bill to Establish the Nurse Corps — Nurses are some of the most important military assets in times of war, and Congress sought to honor that by creating the Army Nurse Corps in 1901 and then the Navy Nurse Corps in 1908. Still, military nursing did not become a major part of the profession until 1917, at the beginning of World War I. During that war, over 10,000 American nurses served overseas. In 1940, the American Nurses Association and other organizations created the Nursing Council of National Defense to help bulk up the military nursing effort for World War II.

  • May 6, 1990: National Nurses Week Begins — If you got a personalized stethoscope or a comfy new pair of Sanita clogs for Nurses’ Week this year, you can thank the American Nurses Association for that! National Nurses Week traces its roots back to 1953, when Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health petitioned President Eisenhower for a Nurse Day. But it wasn’t until 1982 that nurses got their official day. President Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25 of that year proclaiming “National Recognition Day for Nurses” to be May 6. In 1990, the ANA expanded this day to a whole week. The date was chosen to honor Florence Nightingale’s birthday.


  • June 10, 2010: The Biggest Nursing Strike in U.S. History — Since that very first strike at San Francisco General Hospital in 1966, many medical professionals have walked off the job in protest of workplace conditions and poor wages. In June of 2010, the profession saw the largest strike yet with over 12,000 Minneapolis nurses hitting the frontlines in protest. The striking nurses, all members of the Minnesota Nurses Association, staged a one-day strike calling for better nurse-patient ratios and fair compensation. As a result, the nurses came to an agreement with 14 hospitals in the Minneapolis area.
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