A history of National Nurses Week

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dean Glover
  • 55th Medical Group chief nurse
As our country prepares to celebrate National Nurses Week, it is important to recognize that nursing has been around a very long time.

The art of nursing can be traced back to 250 B.C. when males were the primary caregivers who helped patients walk, gave massages, bathed and cooked. In medieval times, nursing organizations were formed exclusively for patient care. By the middle ages, nursing care was performed by both men and women. During the 1500s, the population growth and epidemic outbreaks led to the need for more nurses with proper training.

Answering the call for more educated nurses, the Sisters of Charity established the first nursing society with an organized educational curriculum. By 1550, a Mexican friar, Juan de Mena became the first identified nurse in what would someday be called the United States.

Serving our country has long been the call of the military nurse and medical technician. Nurses and medical technicians are no stranger to the battle field. From the American Revolution to today's world wide military missions, the military nurse and medical technician are there giving care to the sick and wounded in the air, on the ground and aboard hospital ships. Many of these brave caregivers throughout the decades have died answering the nursing call to helping others.

In February 1974, President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation designating a week to celebrate National Nurse's Week. Eight years later, President Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation proclaiming May 6 as National Nurse Day. In 1993 the American Nurses' Association Board of Directors designated May 6-12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week.

Today, nursing is practiced in many countries. Some nurses must care for their patients in makeshift shelters in the most uninhabitable regions of the world while others practice in established hospitals.

Active duty and civilian Air Force nurses and medical technicians are always there to treat and care for your children, wives, husbands, parents and grandparents. Nurses and medical technicians are "Trusted to Care Anytime, Anywhere".