5 Simple Ways to Recognize Nurses for Nurses Month
By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor
May is National Nurses Month, and this year’s motto, “You make a difference,” expresses the gratitude and respect that nurses have earned for the exceptional care they provide—especially over this past year of working through a global pandemic. Nurses deserve to be honored and celebrated for all that they do.
Each week of Nurses Month 2021 will focus on a key nursing topic, including:
Many healthcare facilities are planning something special for the month—but what can you do as an individual?
The team at Onward Healthcare has outlined some simple ways that you can recognize your fellow nurses, show your nursing pride and promote your profession during Nurses Month and throughout the year.
5 strategies for nurse recognition
1. Pay it forward with gratitude
If you are a practicing nurse, you already understand the power of two little words: “Thank you.” Simply expressing your gratitude for fellow nurses is an important yet simple method of nurse recognition. As part of the American Nurses Association’s Nurses Month Toolkit, you can download templates to help you give thanks to others—including thank you notes, social media frames and templates, award certificates and more. Gratitude is contagious, and the more you thank others, the more it catches on and mutual appreciation and acknowledgement grows.
If you are not a nurse, May is the perfect time to do something special for the nurses in your life. Shoot a text message to your college roommate who became an RN or send a dinner delivery to your neighbor who works the ICU night shift. Small gestures of nurse recognition can make a big impact, so tip your hat to the next nurse you meet.
2. Connect with other nurses
Building fellowship and community with other nurses is important to your career satisfaction, and to the health of the profession. This month can be a great opportunity to plan a group lunch with your co-workers, meet after work for a meal or happy hour, or help out with any celebrations for Nurses Month that your facility may have planned. Create your own nurse awards program to recognize fun or special things each person on the unit can be recognized for, or find other creative ways to celebrate each other.
Along with relationships in your workplace, nurse friendships can also be built online through nurse support groups, forums and online communities. If you participate in an online group, May is a great month to do a shout out to your fellow nurses and celebrate all the great things you accomplish together in your profession.
3. Send a “virtual” hug
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made human touch feel like a thing of the past, nurses are getting creative to bring back some of the love. LMH Health, a 174-bed hospital in Lawrence, Kansas, has created an innovative virtual “Hug a Healthcare Worker” campaign to help celebrate Nurses Month during May and throughout the rest of the year.
The hospital’s website encourages everyone to participate in nurse recognition and acknowledge other clinicians on the healthcare team. Patients, clinicians and other site visitors are invited to cheer on their favorite nurse by leaving an online note of thanks. The hospital acknowledges how important these gestures are by noting, “Your appreciation and encouragement bring us joy, and we are grateful for your support.”
4. Spread the word
Whether it is putting up posters around your unit—which you can create yourself or download from ANA’s Nurses Month Toolkit—or contacting local legislators to get a local proclamation, there are countless things you can do to spread the word about nurses this month. The ANA toolkit also includes a proclamation template that can be adapted for your use.
Do you see a nurse who is going above and beyond with little notice? This is your chance to “spread the word” about his or her dedication and commitment. This can be as simple as contacting your CNO or other leader at your workplace to ensure the nurse is duly recognized.
ANA notes that recognizing one or more nurses who excel, lead, and innovate through their exemplary courage, community service, advocacy, research and innovation, and years of commitment is a great way to promote individual nurses and the profession.
5. Host an educational talk, Zoom session or roundtable
Did you know that most nursing schools welcome and encourage active nurses to give talks to their attending student bodies? Whether it is a “lunch and learn” type event or hosting a Zoom call or video conference, there are many ways you can give back to the community by educating others about your profession and the work you do. High schools can also be a great place to encourage young people to consider nursing for their future career.
Contact your local schools to find out how you can use your knowledge and skills to teach others about the nursing profession. This can be done during Nurses Month or anytime throughout the year. It’s just one more way to participate in nurse recognition and outreach.
Happy Nurses Month to all!
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