Are you celebrating a Fairfield County nurse today? Well, it's Florence Nightingale's birthday, so perhaps you should. 

Today marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, an annual celebration of nurses everywhere in honor of the legendary caregiver who founded modern nursing. Every year International Nurses Day is timed to coincide with Florence Nightingale's birthday. Just as importantly, it's a day to give some care back to the caregivers.

Nursing has come a long way since Nightingale was ministering to her patients. Born this day in Florence (hence the name), Italy in 1820 to wealthy English parents, she was never expected to have a career. But she felt she had a calling, and against her parents' wishes traveled to Germany to learn about nursing. In 1854 she volunteered for service in the Crimean War and led a team of nurses to the front lines to aid wounded soldiers. She was so devoted to her patients that she would walk the halls of medical facilities at night with a lantern in order to offer comfort to the most needy. She became known as "The Lady with the Lamp" thereafter.

Nightingale wrote "Notes on Hospitals," which detailed the nuts and bolts of improving hospitals. She also wrote "Notes on Nursing," articulating what she believed to be the high standards of the developing nursing profession. She also founded the Nightingale Training School in London (now the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King's College London). Her pioneering career shaped the development of professional nursing for the rest of the 19th century and her books are still standard reading for nursing students today.

How should you celebrate International Nurses Day? The American Nurses Association has a list of suggestions that includes honoring local nurses, sponsoring a community event that celebrates nurses and organizing a local blood drive. But you can start by thanking your school nurse: your children are in good hands with her or him. Read more about International Nurses Day here.