Nurses: 4 Million Reasons to Celebrate #ThankANurse

Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden

By Donna M. Nickitas

The American Nurses Association (ANA) launches its annual celebration to acknowledge the significant contributions of our nation’s four million registered nurses during National Nurses Week 2019, which is held from May 6 to 12. This year’s theme, “4 Million Reasons to Celebrate,” is a special opportunity for nurses to use their voices, visibility, and sheer numbers to draw attention about how they are experts on health and health care. As informants, scientists, and leaders, nurses are solving public health challenges, influencing health policy decisions, chairing boards of directors, and developing groundbreaking innovations that focus health care on health and wellness, in addition to illness.

As an academic dean, I welcome National Nurses Week as a special occasion to inform the public about how critical nurses are to their health and the health of the nation. During Nurses Week, I challenge everyone to #ThankANurse. If you know a nurse or have been cared for by a nurse, you know first-hand how nurses enrich our lives and make the world a better place. Nurses comprise the largest group of health care professionals in the U.S. and rank as the most honest and ethical profession.

Donna M. Nickitas, dean of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden

In academic nursing, we educate the next-generation nursing workforce for the frontlines in nearly every clinical setting to deliver quality, culturally competent patient care and services. Nurses address the social determinants of health as they traverse the ever-changing threats to health care reform and the complex care needs of individuals, families, communities, and populations. As nurse educators, our role enables us to prepare nursing students to become advocates and care for millions of people from birth to the end of life, to promote diversity, equity, social justice, and health as a basic right, not a privilege.

Nurses are innovators in promoting health, improving health care, and driving health policy that seeks to eliminate discrimination, racism, and stigma. It is time for all nurses to let the sun shine through and remove the biases about how nurses are not recognized as experts on health and health care. Let our 2019 Nurses Week celebrations be the call to action to raise the visibility of nursing and nurses on making nurses more visible in national conversations on health care issues. At Rutgers University–Camden, we recognize nurse faculty are valuable sources of health information, in areas such as health disparities, maternal mortality, human trafficking, and complex care for vulnerable populations. And as such, nurses are the direct informants to the public and media about health and health care.

Every day, nurse faculty along with students leave the classroom and enter the community providing care where people live, work, and go to school. Now, with a focus on population health, nursing students are learning how to address the social determinants of health and confronting poverty, homelessness, hunger, and access to health care while providing nursing care delivery to high-risk, underserved populations. So during May 6-12, 2019 #NursesWeek, stop and remember to thank the nurses in family, school, community, and in Congress for all they do. Be sure to post and blog to #ThankANurse.

Donna Nickitas, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. is dean of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden.


Mason, D.J., Nixon, L., Glickstein, B. Han, S., Westphaln, K. & Carter, L. (2018). The Woodhull Study Revisited: Nurses’ Representation in Health News Media 20 Years later. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 50(6), 695-704.

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