Today is National Nurses Day, part of National Nurses Week! At IWF, we send a big thank you to our nation’s 3.1 million nurses. These women and men have been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic since day one. They risk their health to secure ours.

Modern nursing was established by Florence Nightingale, a British woman who led a group of female nurses to deliver medical services to soldiers during the Crimean War in 1854. Nightingale brought women formally into the world of patient care by establishing nurse education programs in a number of British hospitals. In addition, she implemented handwashing and hygiene practices that are credited with saving lives. Handwashing is still an effective strategy in the fight against infections and viruses like the coronavirus today. 

Fast Facts

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • $75,330 per year – 2020 Median Income
  • 3.1 million – Number of jobs in 2019
  • 7% – Employment growth rate over next decade 
  • Nurses provide care in a variety of setting including hospitals, doctors’ offices, and private homes.

COVID-19 and nursing

Early in the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, the burgeoning number of sick patients threatened to overwhelm our healthcare system. Hospitals in the epicenter of the outbreak, such as in New York and New Jersey, faced a shortage of health professionals.

Out of duty, medical professionals nationwide answered the call to go and help. Traveling nurses, who routinely take assignments in other regions or states, went to hard-hit areas to relieve the overworked medical professionals. 

Usually, the paperwork and red tape required to secure permission to work in a state other than the one a nurse is licensed in could hold up the process for weeks or longer. However, due to the emergency nature of the situation, states and governors temporarily relaxed licensing requirements to permit out-of-state nurses and medical professionals to practice in their states.   

Our Chasing Work campaign profiled nurses from across the country who lent their time and expertise to hard-hit regions:

The pandemic may be on the way out, but we cannot go back to business as usual. Reforms that reduce the barriers for medical professionals to serve wherever needed should be made permanent.