5 Influential Nurses You Need to Know for National Nurses Week

Nurses play a critical role in our health care system. Did you know that a patient often sees a nurse before any doctor? And many nurses around the world help perform life-saving work and offer comfort to those in need, even in times of conflict. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were 3.5 million employed nurses in 2011 and about 3.2 million of them were women. 

We are paying tribute to five influential female nurses for National Nurses Week from May 6-12.

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Photo Credit: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/GettyImages

Gallery

Florence Nightingale | The Lady With The Lamp (1820 – 1910) Nightingale is regarded as the founder of modern nursing. She served wounding soldiers as a nurse during the Crimean War. Nightingale established the first scientifically based nursing school — the Nightingale School of Nursing in London which opened in 1860. She also was a central figure in creating training for midwives and nurses in workhouse infirmaries. Nightingale also held an impressive background as a statistician and social reformer. Photo Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images 

Clara Barton | Founder Of The American Red Cross (1821 – 1912) Barton was a true trailblazer in the nursing field. In 1881, at the age of 60, she founded the American Red Cross — a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. She led the organization for 23 years. Early in her career Barton risked her life bringing supplies and supporting soldiers as a nurse during the Civil War. Photo Credit: Matthew Brady/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

Margaret Sanger | Birth Control Pioneer (1879 – 1966) Sanger was a nurse dedicated to making birth control legal and universally available for all women. She was born in a time when contraceptives were banned under the Comstock Act. Sanger challenged those laws and brought contraceptives to women who needed it. She also founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Her work led to the legalization and use of contraceptives in the United States. Photo Credit: MPI/Getty Images

Mary Eliza Mahoney | First Black Professional Nurse In America (1845 – 1926) Mahoney was the first black professional nurse in America. At the age of 18, she started working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children and in 1878 she was accepted in that hospital's nursing school, the first professional nursing program in the country. She became one of just four students who graduated the program the next year. Mahoney was one of the first black members of the American Nurses Association (A.N.A.) and she supported the creation of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (N.A.C.G.N.) Photo Credit:Twitter

Anna Caroline Maxwell | The American Florence Nightingale (1851 – 1929) Maxwell is one of America's early nurse leaders. She advocated for the proper training of nurses during the Spanish-American War and influenced the creation of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901. From 1892 to 1921, Maxwell served as the first superintendent of nurses at the Presbyterian Hospital Training School for Nurses in New York City where she concentrated on raising educational standards for nursing. Photo Credit: Twitter