Florence Nightingale could have led the insulated life of the English upper class—she was born nearly 200 years ago to wealth, privilege and social status. Instead, she chose the path of caring, compassion and sacrifice, becoming the founder of modern nursing. During National Nurses Week, which began May 6 and concludes on Nightingale’s birthday May 12, we celebrate her legacy of leadership and integrity that lives on in the nurses of today.

Like Nightingale, today’s nurses are on the frontlines of improving quality care. From the bedside to the C-suite to the boardroom, nurses are critical partners in leading the transformation of health care across the care continuum.


As the nation’s most trusted profession, nurses have unique influence and power to improve patient outcomes by delivering evidence-based care. Nurses are first-line responders, able to quickly identify and react to the changing needs of patients, families and communities. Nurses create value within the complex health care delivery system and are listened to when speaking up about legislation and public policies that support healthy patients and communities. 


Nurses are born problem-solvers. It would be hard to last long in our profession without the ability to think on our feet. Nurses are innovators, always looking for new ways to advance quality, safety and cost-effective care. By implementing patient-centered solutions, making data-driven decisions and supporting new models of care, nurses are driving exciting and dynamic change in health care. As new research and technologies emerge, nurses stand ready to help patients and providers adopt and adapt for a healthier future.


A robust and diverse nursing workforce is essential to the health of all Americans. While good patient care is a universal language, transcending dialects and cultures, it is important that our nursing workforce continues to reflect the rich diversity of our country. Nursing is fortunate to attract talented and caring people from all walks of life and our inclusiveness builds trust with patients while also leading, mentoring and coaching the next generation of America’s nurses.

AHA’s American Organization of Nurse Executives subsidiary is proud to have advanced the field of nursing leadership for more than 50 years. As we soon evolve to the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, we pause to celebrate all nurses for the compassionate care they provide to patients, families and communities and their invaluable role in advancing health in America. 

Happy National Nurses Week. To the more than 4 million nurses who are always there, ready to care … thank you. 

Robyn Begley, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, is the CEO of the American Organization of Nurse Executives and the senior vice president and chief nursing officer of the American Hospital Association. 

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