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Happy Nurses Week 2020

Undoubtedly, when you think of famous nurses, Florence Nightingale comes to mind. After all, she is the founder of modern nursing. Not only did she open the first official nursing school and save countless lives, but she also made nursing a true profession. In fact, nurses week is celebrated yearly starting on May 6th and culminates on her birthday on May 12th!

However, there are many other nurses who have had a tremendous impact on the profession and the world. In honor of Nurses Week 2020, I invite you to learn more about pioneers in the nursing profession. It is likely you've been touched by a nurse in some capacity!

Here are five other nurses who shaped the world in which we live.

1. Clara Barton (1821-1912)

Nurse Barton risked her life during the American Civil War to support and take supplies to the soldiers on the battlefield. She nursed and comforted wounded soldiers earning her the nickname "Angel of the Battlefield." In 1881, she founded the American Red Cross and served as president of the organization for 23 years.

2. Mary Breckinridge (1881-1965)

Nurse Breckinridge was a pioneer in rural health nursing having established the Frontier Nursing Service. Having experienced the death of both of her children, she realized the disparity that many women faced giving birth at home with only the help of family members or neighbors. The maternal death rate and the infant mortality rate was high. Nurse Breckinridge was the first to bring nurse-midwifery to the United States. Her establishment of neonatal and childcare medical care systems dramatically reduced the mortality rates of mothers and infants.

3. Dorothea Dix (1802-1887)

Nurse Dix was the Superintendent of Army Nurses for the Union Army during the Civil War. She was critical in the advancement of nurses in the military and the medical field. However, before that, she worked with incarcerated persons. Having observed the inhumane treatment of persons with mental illness she championed for mental health reform. She aided in the founding and restructuring of hospitals for mentally ill persons in the United States and beyond.

4. Virginia Henderson (1897-1996)

Nurse Henderson was a nurse educator and researcher. Her work changed and elevated nursing practice through textbooks and various publications. She is called the "Foremost Nurse of the 20th Century." Having had a career that spanned 70 years in nursing, her Nursing Needs Theory defines the role of nursing practice.

5. Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926)

Nurse Mahoney is the first professionally licensed African American Nurse in the United States. She attended the New England Hospital's rigorous nursing program. 42 students started the program but only 4 completed it, including her. Throughout her career, she was a pioneer for women's rights and for helping black nurses overcome barriers.

These are just some of the nurses who paved the way for the nursing profession. This list could go on and on but I'll stop here for now. 2020 has been proclaimed as the year of the nurse and midwife by the World Health Organization in recognition of the contributions made by nurses and to highlight nursing shortages. Pictured above are some of the best and most caring nurses ever! They also happen to be my favorites as I have the pleasure to work with them daily!

Happy Nurses Week!

You can learn more about these nursing pioneers and more by visiting sites such as,, and

I'd love to hear who you would add to this list! Share a positive story of a nurse who's impacted your life or the life of your loved one.

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