International Nurses Day 2012: Closing the gap

1 May 2012

While this year’s International Nurses Day is focused on the relationship between evidence and action, thousands of nurses around the world celebrate in very different ways.

Closing the Gap: from evidence to action

Half of the world’s deaths could be prevented with simple cost effective interventions, says this years International Nurses Day kit from the International Council of Nurses (ICN).

In their introduction to the kit, ICN president, Australian Rosemary Bryant, and ICN chief executive, David Benton, say health systems throughout the world are currently challenged by inequities in health services and reduced financial resources. Poorly informed decision-making does not help, and they argue that the use of evidence is a “critical and achievable” way to improve health system performance.

“Now, more than ever, nurses need to learn not only how to gather evidence, but also how to put that knowledge into everyday use,” say Bryant and Benton.

“Not all evidence is robust or reliable. Nurses must learn to identify the best available evidence, taking into account the needs and preferences of health service users, while using their own expertise, skills, and clinical judgment as to the feasibility of its use within the local context.”

The full 52-page kit can be downloaded at

Free clinics, discos, and dressing-up

Nurses’ celebrations of their day are as diverse as the people who make up the profession, as are the annual acts of appreciation to nursing staff by their leaders and employers.

Some workplaces combine all facets … like an Indian hospital in Faridabad whose IND programme of events included distributing food to the city’s slums, providing a breastfeeding health promotion to slum mothers, presenting appreciation awards to nurses who had excelled, a cultural performance, and a fashion show with nurses strutting the catwalk.

What many International Nurses Day celebrations around the world have in common is rewarding excellence and achievement by nurses in education, research, and practice in the previous twelve months.

Service is not forgotten, with nurses in Port Elizabeth in South Africa taking their blood pressure cuffs to shopping malls throughout the city to offer free blood pressure checks, nurses in the United Arab Emirates holding a health awareness exhibition, and a group of Hertfordshire nurses heading into local schools to make finger puppets from plaster to teach kids about having their temperature taken.

Probably the most unusual way to mark the day was last year’s launching by the University of Calgary-Qatar nursing school of the online video game Nurses Against Zombiesm as a fun tribute to nursing skills.

Anyone interested can play the game at