A round of applause for all nurses! National Nurses week begins on May 6, the official National Nurses Day, and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The U.S. observed the very first National Nurse Week in October 1954 to correspond with the centennial of Florence Nightingale’s service in the Crimean War. There were various celebrations to recognize nurses over the next several years, but it wasn’t until 1982 when Ronald Reagan officially proclaimed May 6 as National Nurses Day. In 1990, the ANA expanded the recognition of nurses to a full week, a practice that continues today.
Advanced practice nurses don’t always consider themselves part of this week-long nursing celebration, but many participate by honoring bedside nurses, the RNs and LPNs who provide direct patient care in traditional settings. The truth is that all nurses, regardless of their current roles or positions, started their careers as registered nurses or licensed practical nurses, trained in associate degree, baccalaureate or hospital schools of nursing. Becoming an advanced practice nurse through obtaining additional education does not preclude us from being recognized during Nurses Week, but perhaps as these dates approach, we can find new ways to be part of the history of the celebration. There are various reasons that nurses decide to become pediatric advanced practice providers, often related to their experiences as pediatric nurses or their exposure to an advanced practice provider mentor. Working in pediatric nursing positions developed in many of us the interest and passion to expand our reach and find new or more direct ways to care and advocate for children. I am sure that if we asked NPs to talk about their decisions to become pediatric advanced practice providers, each story would be unique, but include similar aspirations.
As we celebrate National Nurses Week, I invite you to share your story with a younger or even older, experienced nurse who may be interested in advancing their career and becoming more of an expert in child health. Today there are so many options and open positions for advanced practice pediatric nurses; there is so much information to share. Schools of nursing often offer open houses for interested applicants, why not consider doing the same in your local NAPNAP chapter? Is there a pediatric nurse whom you know who has gone above and beyond in advocating for children even within your own institution? You may want to consider a chapter award to recognize this person and invite them to come to your dinner or chapter meeting. You could start an annual tradition, which would most definitely add to the history of National Nurses Week; the possibilities are endless! Join us in our quest as experts in pediatric health care to advocate and care for children. While doing this, you will also be expanding our voice in many different arenas. Happy Nurses Week to all!