On 12 May we celebrate International Nurses’ Day in commemoration of the birth of Florence Nightingale, whose contributions to health and to nursing science itself have been recognised globally. This deserved recognition, which transcends spatial, temporal and nursing disciplinary boundaries, has only been possible thanks to the numerous historical investigations that have reconstructed her biography and her contribution to innovations in health.
In the book New Directions in Nursing History: International Perspectives (Routledge 2005), Barbara Mortimer drew attention to the scant interest that nursing history had received from historians of the health sciences. The study of nursing history is relatively recent, as the written history of modern nursing in English-speaking countries only began to be constructed in the mid-nineteenth century, and later in other contexts. From the EAHN we promote historical reflection in nursing with the conviction that knowing our past helps us to face current problems.
We are living in an exceptional historical moment, the global pandemic that started in 2020 has highlighted the need for nursing care for people affected by this extreme situation. Now the war in Ukraine, with the threats looming over Europe and the rest of the world, highlights the work of nurses and the need for a humanistic approach to health care. Knowing how similar situations were dealt with in the past can help us to understand current problems and to face the future.
Let us celebrate 12 May 2022 with an explicit recognition of all nurses working in care, teaching, management or research.
Happy International Nurses’ Day