Year of the Nurse 2020

2020 - Year of the Nurse

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”, in honour of the 200th  birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale.

The year 2020 is significant for WHO in the context of nursing and midwifery strengthening for Universal Health Coverage. WHO is leading the development of the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing report which will be launched in 2020, prior to the 73rd World Health Assembly.

For more information, visit the World Health Organization website.


In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are highlighting Dorothea Dix for the month of May.

Dorothea Dix was born in Hampden, Maine in 1802.  As a young woman, she attended and taught at a school in Boston.  However, after a serious bout of poor health, she traveled to Europe to rest.  There, she learned about the European reformation beginning in mental health care.

Dix took what she learned in Europe back to America and, although she was met with major political opposition, opened asylums in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Illinois.  In 1861, America fell into the Civil War and Dix became the Superintendent of Army Nurses for the Union Army, although she is notorious for treating soldiers on both sides of the battlefield.  She also used this platform to advocate for formal training for women and nurses.

After the war, Dix spent the remainder of her life advocating for social reform and improved care of the mentally ill.  In her lifetime, she founded 32 mental health institutions and spent 40 years lobbying for mental health.  Dorothea Dix passed away July 17, 1887.



For the month of April, we would like to highlight one of the famous men in nursing. Joe Hogan was an African American nurse. He had an associate’s degree and wanted to further his education and get his bachelor’s. There weren’t any co-ed schools close to where he lived. The closest co-ed school was about 150 miles away, so Hogan applied to Mississippi University for Women (MUW) in 1979. He was told by the university he would be able to audit classes, but would not receive any credit. MUW had made this decision based solely on his gender. Hogan decided to petition MUW to change their regulations and allow men to attend. He also filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court because this violated his 14th Amendment rights. The court ruled against Hogan, but the case ended up going to the Supreme Court. The MUW policy was ruled unconstitutional and Hogan was allowed to enroll in 1982. 

Fun Facts:

  • Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, first women to be appointed to the Supreme Court, delivered the majority opinion.
  • The Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan ruling ended sex discrimnation in publicly funded nursing schools across the country.



For Women’s History Month, we will be highlighting the work of Margaret Sanger, the founder of the birth control movement and a champion for women’s reproductive rights.

Margaret Sanger was born Sept 14, 1879 in Corning, NY.  After her mother died at age 50, as a result of eleven pregnancies, she left home to attend the Claverack College and Hudson River Institute for nursing and became a nurse at the White Plains Hospital in 1902.  She came into contact with many women who were seeking care after botched abortions, which – in addition to her experience with her mother – ignited her passion for women’s access to birth control.

Sanger launched The Woman Rebel, which was a feminist publication that advocated for access to birth control.  This violated the Comstock Laws, which at the time criminalized contraceptives. The charges were dropped, but that was not the end of Sanger’s run-ins with the law.  In 1916 she opened the first birth control clinic in Brooklynn, for which she was arrested and convicted. However, after her release, she opened a female-led clinic that eventually became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Sanger took her plans to the White House, and created the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in 1929.  After years of lobbying, birth control was made legal for doctors to prescribe in 1936. Sanger lived to see “the pill” be approved by the FDA in 1960, before she passed away in 1966.

Fun fact: she made the term “birth control” popular



In recognition of Black History Month and Year of the Nurse and Midwife, we would like to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926). 

Mahoney learned early on about the importance of racial equality, as she attended one of the first racially integrated schools in America. As a teenager, Mahoney discovered her passion for nursing, and at 33, was accepted into the intense nursing program at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. When Mahoney completed the program in 1879, she became the first African American woman in the US to earn a nursing license.

Some of Mahoney’s other accomplishments and fun facts include:

  • First black member of Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada, which later became the American Nurses’ Association
  • Co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN)
  • One of the first women to register to vote in Boston in 1920
  • Supervised the Howard Orphanage Asylum for black children from 1911-1912
  • Inducted into AHA Hall of Fame in 1976 and National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993
  • The Mary Mahoney Award is still given by the ANA to nurses who promote integration within their field.

Information from and


In a time where nursing was seen as below Nightingale’s high societal class, she chose to pursue nursing and helped shaped the world of healthcare as we know it today.  Some of her many notable achievements include: 

  • Improved hygiene practices in nursing care after her work as a nurse caring for soldiers in the Crimean War
  • Founded St. Thomas’s Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses
  • Changed the societal idea of nursing into an honorable position for all classes 
  • Her work and research led to the establishment of the Royal Commission for the Health of the Army (1857)

Fun facts: She is nicknamed “The Lady with the Lamp” after her tireless efforts nursing wounded soldiers in the Crimean War and checking up on the men throughout the night to ensure their wellbeing. 

International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday every year, May 12.

Information from and