It’s the time of year for Canadians to remember their nurses and everything they do.

May 12 to 18 marks National Nursing Week, an opportunity to honour nurses, and the profession in general. All next week it’s a time to remind the nation of their contributions to society. At 270,000, nurses are the largest group of health-care providers in Canada, representing more than a third of the country’s health-care workforce.

Along with the day-to-day work in varied roles on the front lines of health care, nurses have led the way in research and international development initiatives, raised awareness of health promotion and illness prevention, and have always been great catalysts in finding solutions to the ever-present and evolving problems in the nation’s universal health-care system.

“We often say, ‘Where-ever people live, work and play, there will be nurses there to support them in their health and meeting challenges to their health,’” says Marlene Smadu, president of the Canadian Nurses Association.

The week is celebrated around the world in conjunction with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, a pioneer in the field of modern nursing. But this year’s National Nursing Week in Canada is extra- special because it coincides with the centennial of the Canadian Nurses Association. Representing more than 133,700 nurses across the country, the organization is dedicated to advancing the nursing discipline in the interest of the public. To celebrate the milestone, the group is highlighting nurses, past and present, from all domains (research, education, clinical practice and policies).

“(National Nursing Week) is a big week every year, but the week is especially big this year. It’s a great chance for us to honour our leaders in nursing today and throughout history and the great contributions they’ve made,” Smadu says.

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