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National Nursing Week 2020

Nurses: A Voice to Lead — Nursing the World to Health

Dates and theme
About National Nursing Week
Ideas for celebrating
Contact Us

Dates and theme

National Nursing Week 2020 is May 11-17. It always occurs from the Monday to the Sunday of Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12.

The theme this year is Nurses: A Voice to Lead — Nursing the World to Health. The theme was developed by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) to showcase how nurses are central to addressing a wide range of health challenges. ICN says the theme will help raise the profile of the profession and attract a new generation into the nursing family.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honour of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.


“2020 will be dedicated to highlighting the enormous sacrifices and contributions of nurses and midwives, and to ensuring that we address the shortage of these vital professions,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Having the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife coincide with Florence Nightingale’s bicentennial raises the exciting prospect of nurses finally being recognized for all the good they do. All around the world, nurses are working tirelessly to provide the care and attention people need, whenever and wherever they need it.” ICN president Annette Kennedy

“National Nursing Week is a great opportunity to recognize the leadership role of all regulated nurses in Canada.” CNA president Claire Betker

About National Nursing Week

The week draws attention to nurses, increasing the awareness of the public, policy-makers and governments of the many contributions of nursing to the well-being of Canadians.

In 1971, ICN designated May 12, the birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, as International Nurses Day. In 1985, CNA members passed a resolution to begin negotiations with the federal government to have the week containing May 12 proclaimed as National Nurses Week annually. Soon after, the federal minister of health proclaimed the second week of May as National Nurses Week. In 1993, the name was changed to National Nursing Week to emphasize the profession's accomplishments as a discipline.

Ideas for celebrating

  • Host a birthday event to honour of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth
  • Have a series of lunch-and-learn sessions where nurses from different practice areas present on their role and responsibilities.
  • Invite a nursing leader to present on a topic of interest to colleagues or community gatherings.
  • Plan a social outing with all the nurses in your organization.
  • Display nursing artifacts, such as school hats, pins and uniforms, in a prominent area of your workplace.
  • Organize a potluck lunch or a healthy snack break to bring nurses and other employees together.
  • On social media, tell others about the diversity of your role and your nursing story using #CNA2020 #IND2020 #Nurses2020 #NationalNursingWeek #SupportNursesandMidwives #YearoftheNurseandMidwife #YearoftheNurse
  • Follow CNA on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube
  • Offer to conduct a nursing careers session at an educational institution.
  • Suggest story ideas or offer to be interviewed by your local media, focusing on stories related to the NNW theme.
  • Get festive: have your staff decorate their workplace based on this year’s theme. This activity also doubles as an opportunity for team bonding.
  • Be personal: write thank-you notes as a sign of your appreciation for all that your nursing staff does for patients daily. Such gestures have become increasingly rare, so this simple act of recognition can make a profound difference in employee morale.


Here you will find links to download CNA’s National Nursing Week digital posters and our social media banners to spread the word and use your voice to lead!

Downloads will be made available soon so you can print the posters in various sizes.

Please note: printed posters will not be available for mailing.

ICN International Nurses Day website

Contact Us

For general inquiries, please contact outreach@cna-aiic.ca.