Get ready to celebrate nurses day, week—and month

stephanie behring

By Stephanie Behring
Contributing Writer

A nurse in a hospital smiles.

You might think of the annual celebration for nurses as Nurses Week, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s also Nurses Day and Nurse Month—all in May. It’s a well-deserved lollapalooza for nurses, and a perfect time to enrich your career, make new connections, and take time for yourself.

For over 40 years, Nurses Day and Nurses Week have been a time to celebrate nurses for their hard work and dedication. Nurses Day was declared a National Day of Recognition in 1982 and is now held every year on May 6.  Nurses Week runs from May 6-12, timed to commemorate Florence Nightingale’s birthday on the 12th.

The American Nurse Association (ANA) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) support these celebrations. In 2020, the ANA dedicated the entire month of May to the celebration of nurses. Although this was originally intended to be a one-time event to celebrate the Year of The Nurse in 2020, the ANA has decided to make Nurses Month permanent.

Nurses Week runs from May 6-12, timed to commemorate Florence Nightingale’s birthday on the 12th.

This Year’s Theme: Nurses Make a Difference

“The expansion to Nurses Month is intended to allow for greater engagement, participation, and recognition of nurses by many stakeholders,” states the ANA. “A month-long celebration of nurses is a meaningful way to increase the understanding of the value of nursing by raising the visibility of the profession and the critical work nurses do.”

The theme for Nurses Month 2021 is “Nurses Make a Difference,” says ANA Public Relations Specialist Keziah Proctor. Each week in May has a focus, and the ANA will offer content to help nurses and their employers participate:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3
Professional Development

Week 4
Community Engagement

Many hospitals and other employers will likely hold their celebrations May 6-12, which lines up the ANA’s observance of Nurses Week. However, you can join the ANA in celebrating yourself and your profession all month long.

How You Can Participate

There are many ways to participate in nursing celebrations. You can look beyond what’s being offered by your employer to find the best activities for you.


Conferences can give you the most up-to-date information in your field or specialty and help keep your skills sharp. Plus, you can often earn some of the continuing education units (CEUs) you need to keep your license active.

Many employers will reimburse conference costs. This means you can take a vacation, gain new skills and knowledge, earn CEUs, and make career connections without breaking your budget. If you’d rather not travel, virtual conferences offer many of the same benefits from the comfort of your home.

APNA 20th Annual Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute—The  American Psychiatric Nurses Association is hosting this conference for psychiatric RNs and advanced practice registered nurses who prescribe psychiatric medication. The conference will be held June 9-12, live in Reston, Virginia, and virtually for those who can’t attend in person.

Healthcare Documentation Integrity Virtual Conference—This conference for informatics nurses will be held Aug. 10-12, 2021.

Emergency Nurses Association Annual Conference —The association will hold its annual conference in Denver from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, 2021.

Association for Vascular Access Conference —This annual conference will focus on the latest information about vascular access devices and their best practices. It will be held in Minneapolis from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, 2021.

Healthcare Travel Conference —This annual event for travel nurses will be held Sept. 18-21, 2021, in Las Vegas and will offer the opportunity to earn CEU hours.

International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses (ISPAN) Conference—ISPAN will host its annual conference for aesthetic and plastic surgery nurses in Boston Oct. 26-30, 2021.

The 6th Annual Nursing World Conference—This large conference will focus on the future of nursing and be held Oct. 27-29, 2021, virtually and live in Orlando, Florida.

Global Exchange Conference 2021—This event will focus on mental and behavioral health and be held Nov. 1-4, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Conference—This conference will focus on caring for patients with HIV and AIDs and be held Nov. 17-19, 2021, in Tampa, Florida.

Freebies and Discounts

There are several places you can get discounts during Nurses Month just by showing your employee badge. Look for discounts on items such as scrubs and other nursing essentials from major brands, as well as discounts on housewares and electronics. You can also generally count on opportunities to earn free CEUs from organizations such as the ANA.

Look for discounts on items such as scrubs and other nursing essentials from major brands, as well as discounts on housewares and electronics.

However, you don’t have to wait until May to start saving. Many clothing, accessory, food, and other products have discounts for nurses and healthcare professionals year-round. Some discounts for nurses include: phone plans, rental cars, electronics, and mattresses.

Celebrate on Social Media

Social media is a great place to connect with your fellow nurses. It’s a fast and fun way to share tips, stories, and more. You can check in during Nurses Week and Nurses Month, or all year long. You’ll find nurses sharing content on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Facebook. 

One way to get started is to search these popular hashtags:













You can also tag your nursing content with one of these tags to start your own conversation.

Take Time for Your Career

Whether you’re a new nursing graduate or a seasoned professional, there’s always room to grow in a profession as dynamic as nursing. Nurses week is an ideal time to think about what your next career steps might be and the best ways to move ahead.

Find a Mentor

A mentor can help you figure out where you want your career to go in the long run. It can be helpful to talk to someone who has been in the field longer than you and has accomplishments similar to your goals. Not sure how to find a mentor? You can begin by reaching out to a professor, starting a conversation with a coworker in a leadership role, or networking.

Get a Credential

Adding a new credential to your resume is one way to boost your career. If you’ve found a nursing specialty that you’re dedicated to, such as ER nursing or pediatric nursing, a credential can help you demonstrate your skill and expertise. You can start by checking out the many credentials offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Go for an Advanced Degree

Have you been meaning to go back to school? Whether you want to pursue your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or enter an LPN-to-BSN bridge program, now may be a good time to get started.

Remember to Practice Self-Care

It’s no secret that nursing is a high-stress job. Nurses have heavy workloads and are at risk of burnout. It can be tough for nurses to take the time they need to rest, recharge, and refocus. But without taking this time for self-care, many nurses find that both their health and the care they can deliver can suffer.

Rosa Crumpton, RN, BSN, BS, MBA, HCM, a nurse manager at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Seattle, says that taking time for self-care can be especially challenging for nurses. She says that many people who are drawn to nursing are people who often put the needs of others above their own.

Fortunately, many nurses are recognizing this struggle. One newer option to help with self-care that’s getting a lot of buzz in the nursing world is the Keener App.

“It can be challenging for those of us used to always helping others to put our needs first. It goes against everything that has been ingrained in us,” says Crumpton. “This means we have to make our needs known, take our breaks, say no to overtime, and create some boundaries between work and home.”

Fortunately, many nurses are recognizing this struggle. One newer option to help with self-care that’s getting a lot of buzz in the nursing world is the Keener App.

This free self-care app was created by nurses, for nurses. With features like shift reflection, guided meditation, personalized insights, and community with other nurses, the app is designed to help you take care of your mental health and well-being.

The ANA offers additional self-care resources, including its course Self-Care Package for Nurses. You’ll get CEUs and tips to help manage your work-life balance.

rosa crumpton

With professional insight from:

Rosa Crumpton, RN, BSN, BS, MBA/HCM

Manager at Veterans Administration Medical Center in Seattle

Keziah Proctor

Public Relations Manager, The American Nurses Association

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