Nurses recognized during National Nurses Day, National Nurses Week 

Wallace State Community College Nursing Instructor Alicia Standridge, in front, lights Jed Hardman’s candle during the lighting of the lamp ceremony held at the August 2019 Nursing Pinning Ceremony. Also pictured is Kaeli Huddleston, left, and Jacob Reed, right. The lamp is representative of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale’s birthday, May 12, marks the end of National Nurses Week, which is recognized from May 6 to May 12 each year.  

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Community College is celebrating National Nurses Week and National Nurses Day, honoring the thousands of alumni who have passed through its doors.

National Nurses Day on May 6 kicks off National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. The year 2020 is the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth in 1820.

Each year during pinning ceremonies for Wallace State Nursing graduates, the story of Nightingale’s efforts during the Crimean War illustrates how she became the founder or modern nursing. While treating injured soldiers and realizing most soldiers were dying of infections due to the unhygienic conditions. Nightingale instituted new practices that improved conditions and mortality rates.

Working long days, Nightingale became known as “The Lady with the Lamp” because of her habit of making rounds each night. To honor her and as a symbolic gesture for continuing her efforts, graduating nursing students at Wallace State receive a lamp-shaped lantern and light a candle during their pinning ceremony before taking their oath.

National Nurses Day was sparked in 1953 after U.S. Department of Health employee Dorothy Sutherland sent a letter to President Dwight Eisenhower proposing the day be set aside for nurses. Though an official proclamation was not declared, people began celebrating National Nurses Day on their own the next year.

President Richard Nixon proclaimed National Nurses Week in 1974. After efforts spearheaded by several nursing organizations, the United States Congress designated May 6 as National Recognition Day for Nurses in 1982 and President Ronald Reagan signed the proposal. The ANA Board of Directors later expanded the recognition in 1990 to the week-long celebration known as National Nurses Week from May 6-12. In 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day.

A new theme is chosen for each year, with the 2020 theme being Nurse: Keeping the Care in Health care. Deborah “Pepper” Hoover, director of Wallace State’s Department of Nursing Education, feels the theme is most appropriate during this time in history.

“Nursing is facing unprecedented challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, both in the clinical arena and on the educational front,” Hoover said. “There are many heroes serving overtime in long-term care facilities, acute care hospitals and nursing programs attempting to meet the health care needs of our country.

“Wallace State is proud to be included in the ranks of professional nursing with a passion to deliver excellence in the face of extremely uncertain times and reminding persons to value the ‘care’ in health care,” she added. “We know that Florence Nightingale would be a cheerleader for handwashing education in the COVID era. Modern nurses have been wearing masks for decades to protect their patients and know the public can embrace this practice for this special time. Honor your nursing friends this week by donning a special mask and lending a hand to those who have special needs. Nurses urge all to keep the care in health care.”

“We are so proud of the legacy of excellence that our WSCC Nursing Program has for producing quality graduates,” said Lisa German, dean of Health Sciences at Wallace State. “It is heartening to witness the positive impact these nurses have across the state and nation particularly in light of the current health care challenges we are facing.”

The Wallace State Department of Nursing Education is a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education as declared by the National League for Nursing. The program is accepting applications for entry in Fall 2020 with a priority deadline of May 15.

For more information, visit or call 256-352-8000.