To recognize the life of Florence Nightingale, the founder of the modern nursing profession and head British nurse during the Crimean War, the first National Nurses Week was observed from Oct. 11–16 in 1954, marking the 100th anniversary of Nightingale's mission to Crimea. This celebratory week was officially proclaimed by President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, and in 1981, May 6 was sanctioned National Recognition Day For Nurses.
In 1990 the American Nurses Association Board of Directors expanded the holiday into a weeklong celebration beginning May 6 and ending on May 12 — Nightingale's birthday.
As one of the nation's largest healthcare-related events, this week recognizes the contributions and commitments nurses make and educates the public on the significant work they perform. It may not be a cure for the common cold, but in honor of these notable nurses mentioned below, and nurses everywhere, we present our healing GRAMMY playlist.
The Beatles, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 2008
If there was ever a nurse who offered a little help, it was British nurse Edith Cavell. During World War I she was known for helping all soldiers, but achieved everlasting fame for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium. The Beatles didn't need much help, as "Help!" reached No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1965.
Destiny's Child, Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, 2001
In this GRAMMY-winning song the ladies of Destiny's Child vow to never give up or stop, promising to work harder. Clara Barton must have made this same vow when she found herself on a short vacation in Europe due to the toll that helping soldiers of the Civil War's First Battle of Bull Run took on her health. She eventually became the founder and first president of the American Red Cross, which was established May 21, 1881, in Washington, D.C.
"I Will Survive" (iTunes>)
Gloria Gaynor, Best Disco Recording, 1979
As long as she knows how to love, Gaynor declares that she will survive. Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Abraham Lincoln, showed her love and loyalty to the Union when she visited, fed and treated Union soldiers during the Civil War.
Peggy Lee, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 1998
Hazel W. Johnson-Brown could likely cure the common fever and more when in 1979 she became the first African-American woman to achieve the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. "Fever" was the right prescription for Lee, as it ascended to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958.
"Breathe Again" (iTunes>)
Toni Braxton, Best R&B Vocal Performance, 1994
Pioneering nurse Mary Breckinridge probably felt as if she could finally breathe again when she fled to Europe following World War I to join the American Committee for Devastated France after leaving her husband. After returning to the United States, she founded the Frontier Nursing Service in 1925. Braxton was able to breathe easy with "Breathe Again" picking up GRAMMY honors in 1994.
"Help Me Make It Through The Night" (iTunes>)
Sammi Smith, Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, 1971
If there was ever a nurse, not just any nurse, who could help you make it through the night, it was Nightingale. In 1854 she traveled to Turkey, where she cared for wounded British soldiers and checked in on them at all hours of the night, earning her the nickname "The Lady of the Lamp." "Help Me Make It Through The Night," Smith's biggest hit, was written by fellow GRAMMY winner Kris Kristofferson.
"Healing Chant" (iTunes>)
Neville Brothers, Best Pop Instrumental Performance, 1989
The Neville Brothers' "Healing Chant" perhaps serves as an appropriate theme for nurse Jeanne Prentice, who is known for her work in protecting a mother's right to choose a licensed professional to supervise home births in South Dakota.
"Feel Good Inc." (iTunes>)
Gorillaz Featuring De La Soul, Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals, 2005
In her 1966 book The Nature Of Nursing, Virginia Avenel Henderson became famous for her formal definition of nursing: "assisting individuals to gain independence in relation to the performance of activities contributing to health or its recovery." Henderson surely wanted to ensure that every patient of hers felt good, similar to the Gorillaz's musical intentions on the GRAMMY-winning "Feel Good Inc."
"Doctor's Orders" (iTunes>)
Aretha Franklin And Luther Vandross, Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal nominee, 1991
It must have been the doctor's orders that Mary Ezra Mahoney followed when she became the first African-American registered nurse. Mahoney also founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1908, which eventually merged with the American Nurses Association between 1950 and 1951. Unfortunately for Franklin and Vandross, the doctor ordered a GRAMMY for Boyz II Men's Cooleyhighharmony album in 1991.
The Healer (iTunes>)
John Lee Hooker, Best Traditional Blues Recording nominee, 1989
Sophie Mannerheim is known for her work in pioneering the modernizing of the nursing profession in Finland. In the early part of the 20th century, she worked as head nurse of the Helsinki Surgical Hospital and later became president of the Finnish Nurses Association. Though his album ultimately didn't make the grade, blues pioneer Hooker picked up a GRAMMY for Best Traditional Blues Recording in 1989 for his collaboration with Bonnie Raitt on "I'm In The Mood."
"Sick, Sick, Sick" (iTunes>)
Queens Of The Stone Age, Best Hard Rock Performance nominee, 2007
American writer and poet Walt Whitman was sick, sick, sick when he read a story about wounded soldiers in Fredericksburg, Va., in 1863. The list included his brother's name and Whitman immediately took a train to Virginia where he worked as a volunteer nurse at more than 40 hospitals. Similarly, the Queens likely felt "Sick, Sick, Sick" when they lost, lost, lost to the Foo Fighters for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2007.
"Heartache Tonight" (iTunes>)
Eagles, Best Rock Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group, 1979
If there's going to be a heartache (or any type of ache), the first person you'd want around is a nurse, or Lillian Carter, the mother of President Jimmy Carter, who in 1966 dedicated her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in India. The Eagles were able to turn their heartache into GRAMMY gold in 1979.
What song best typifies National Nurses Week to you? Or maybe one that makes you sick…. Drop us a comment and let us know.