05/06/2011 05:27 pm ET | Updated Jul 06, 2011

International Nurses Day 2011: Time To Thank Your Nurses

It's time to care for the caregivers.

Today marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, an annual celebration of nurses everywhere. It runs from May 6 to May 12 each year.

During the week, two days have their own theme: May 8 is National Student Nurses Day and May 12 is International Nurses Day. The celebration of the latter falls on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who played a critical role in the development of modern nursing.

International Nurses Day was first celebrated by the International Council of Nurses in 1965. The International Council of Nurses has set this year's theme as “Closing The Gap: Increasing Access and Equity” and have released a kit that describes ways to increase heath care equality.

So how should you celebrate International Nurses Day? The American Nurses Association has a long list of suggestions including honoring local nurses, sponsoring a community event that celebrates nurses, and organizing a local blood drive.

In recent weeks, nurses have been in the news regarding local strikes. Nurses at D.C.'s largest hospital went on strike last month. Strike threats this year in six states led to improved working conditions for nurses.