Thank You, Nurses, Wherever You Are

Nurses. They’re people you’d rather not need, but when you do, they can be angels of mercy. And no matter what language they speak, no matter the color of their skin, no matter the style of their uniform, we are grateful for the care they give and healing they bring.

Today is International Nurses Day. In honor of that, here is a link to a collage of photos showing nurses uniforms from around the world, circa 1950. Buried deep in a Wired post entitled “Rare, Beautiful, and Disturbing Objects from the National Library of Medicine” (Betsy Mason, April 2, 2012), the photos come from the Helene Fuld Health Foundation.

Nurses. We need more of them. While the US has a shortage, some of the shortfall is made up by recruiting from other countries. The US doesn’t have the most nurses per capita, but we’re much closer to the top than to the bottom. Below are the 15 countries with the highest density of nurses and midwives (showing the number per 1000 population), followed by the 15 countries with the least—using the most recent data available from the World Health Organization:

  1. Iceland 16.48
  2. Switzerland 15.96
  3. Ireland 15.67
  4. Finland 15.52
  5. Norway 14.76
  6. Denmark 14.54
  7. Belarus 12.56
  8. Sweden 11.57
  9. Luxembourg 11.32
  10. New Zealand 10.87
  11. Germany 10.82
  12. Uzbekistan 10.81
  13. United Kingdom 10.30
  14. Canada 10.05
  15. USA 9.82

  1. Guinea .04
  2. Somalia .11
  3. Niger .14
  4. Netherlands .15
  5. Sierra Leone .17
  6. Bhutan .24
  7. Ethiopia .24
  8. Tanzania .24
  9. Bangladesh .27
  10. Liberia .27
  11. Togo .27
  12. Malawi .28
  13. Belgium .3
  14. Mali .3
  15. Mozambique .31

(“Health Workforce: Aggregated Data, Density per 1000,” Global Health Observatory Data Repository, World Health Organization)

[photo: “Nurse Roberta,” (c1949) by Douglas Coulter, used under a Creative Commons license]


4 thoughts on “Thank You, Nurses, Wherever You Are

  1. Love this! I’m a nurse – totally reposting. Thanks for the shout out and the demographics. Will be using this in workshops I do!


  2. The Northern European countries always do so well on these types of lists (health care, or well-being lists). I am thinking back to the cultural map you posted and with the exception of Netherlands and Germany, this list show “Protestant Europe” ranking in the first 6 spots — but I’m not sure exactly which other cultural values they share. At any rate, I think the list probably shows where nurses are valued most.


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