The heartbeat of healthcare is the dedicated nurse who is the first and last person a patient sees during a hospital visit or routine checkup. Today, we celebrate them on National Nurses Day. They are the under-appreciated all-stars in our healthcare system. Check out our list of celebrities who you didn’t know were once nurses before the fame.
“The Lady With the Lamp” — or as she is more widely known, Florence Nightingale — founded modern nursing at the end of the 19th Century. Her strict use of hand-washing and hygiene practices while caring for wounded soldiers in the Crimean War helped reduce the death rate from 42 percent to 2 percent, ushering in the world of nursing as we know it today. On May 6, the United States shines a light on the important role nurses play in our lives by celebrating National Nurses Day.
National Nurses Day is the first day of National Nursing Week, which concludes on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
In February of 1974, President Nixon proclaimed a National Nurse Week to be celebrated annually in May. Over the next eight years, various nursing organizations including the American Nurses Association (ANA) rallied to support calls for a “National Recognition Day for Nurses” on May 6, which was eventually proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
Nurses make up the highest percentage of the US healthcare workforce with nearly 3 million working nurses in the country today. Nurses are more likely to sustain injuries on the job than construction workers, and they walk an average of 5 kilometers per shift. That’s just a regular day, but with the impending effects of coronavirus, nurses’ jobs have been even more challenging.
What better way to celebrate their continued efforts in healthcare than an entire week dedicated to their selfless service. The most common tradition to express gratitude to nurses across the world is throwing them a huge party. Usually, the party’s hosted by the medical faculty and staff featuring a room full of decorations, themed foods and gift cards.
Nothing will ever be enough for the work these dedicated individuals are doing, but we want to bring awareness to the importance of this job by celebrating this list of celebrities you didn’t know were nurses before they became famous.
Happy National Nurse’s Day! Check it out below:
1. Bonnie HuntSource:Bonnie Hunt
Hunt is best known for her roles in feature films like Jerry Maguire and Cheaper by the Dozen. The actress volunteered as a candy striper at a local hospital when she was a teenager, according to the Chicago Tribune. On the suggestion of her father, she entered nursing school, though initially didn’t plan on finishing because her heart wasn’t in it. After her dad passed away, though, she worked with a patient who had a special connection to her family, and that encouraged her to stick with nursing.
2. Naomi JuddSource:Naomi Judd
You may know Naomi Judd as a beloved country singer, or about her daughter Wynonna but before she hit it big, she worked as an ICU nurse. “While working at hospitals in Nashville, Tennessee, I worked mainly in the intensive care unit, ICU,” she told Everyday Health. “If you’ve ever watched medical shows on TV, you know that the ICU can be very fast-paced and stressful, with life and death situations. Many times I was stuck with needles and even got bodily fluids on me.” She left the nursing field in 1984.
The singer recently lost her battle with mental health and died by suicide. Rest easy, Naomi.
3. Tina TurnerSource:Tina Turner
Before she became a musical icon, Tina Turner held one of the most difficult jobs. After graduating from high school, the famed singer worked as a nurse’s aide at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. She had recently given birth to her first child and was trying to make ends meet, though she’d always had a passion for singing. “I was planning on going to school to be a practical nurse because the club thing was still a bit shaky,” Turner said in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1986. “Then Ike lost his singer and asked me if I would sing.”
And, the rest is history.
4. Kim Zolciak-BiermannSource:Kim Zolciak-Biermann
The reality star and mom to six kids was once a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in both Georgia, where she resides now, and Connecticut. “The day I graduated nursing school I was so damn proud of myself,” she wrote on social media.
5. Adrian HolmesSource:Adrian Holmes
You’ve seen him on television shows like Bel-Air and Supernatural, but Holmes is more than a booked and busy working actor. Following in the footsteps of his nurse mother, Holmes first pursued a career in medicine as a more stable option for work. He studied nursing at Langara College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and while doing so, worked in several different health care areas including obstetrics, pediatrics, and the spine unit, according to the Vancouver Courier.
6. Jennifer StoneSource:Jennifer Stone
Jennifer Stone became a fan-favorite after starring as Harper Finkle on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place for five years. Today, the young actress continues to act, but she has also added the role of registered nurse to her resume.
Stone took to Instagram in April 2020 to share the news of her new profession. “A very good friend of mine…pointed out to me that today is #worldhealthday,” she wrote in the post. “It is also the day I went from a volunteer, then a student nurse, and now an RN resident. I just hope to live up to all of the amazing health care providers on the front lines now as I get ready to join them.”
7. Kate GosselinSource:Kate Gosselin
America first met Kate Gosselin when she was chasing after a football team of eight kids on the TLC reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8. Before her exciting family life, she was a nurse. Gosselin specifically worked as a labor and delivery room nurse after finishing nursing school at Pennsylvania’s Reading Hospital and Medical Center. She left the job when she and then-husband Jon Gosselin started their family with twins Cara and Mady.
While she renewed her nursing license in 2009, according to the Daily News, Gosselin understandably hasn’t returned to hospital work.
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