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5 ways to take Nurses Week into your own hands

Stocksy | Sean Locke
Stocksy | Sean Locke

It’s that time of year again. Nurses Week is right around the corner, and you just know that admin is going to either forget the occasion entirely or make some empty gesture that is worse than nothing. Don’t lose heart. You could actually be the hero at your hospital this year by putting a smile on nurses’ faces with thoughtful gifts and acts of generosity. Here are five easy ways to appreciate your coworkers when admin may not have a clue.

Fertilize the Grapevine with Kind Words
Have you ever started a positive rumor about a coworker just to see how far it would travel? This is a fun way to spend Nurses Week. Find out something nice (but not private) about each of your coworkers and spread it around. For example, you might discover that Alissa spends her off time volunteering with a mentoring program. Or you might point out over coffee that you appreciate how James is always the one who spends a few extra minutes making sure the lounge area is neat and tidy. You may be surprised how much the atmosphere in your workplace changes when you start spreading words of affirmation.

Recruit Your Patients to Spread the Love
If you work days, perhaps you don’t know the nurses who work on the night shift (or vice versa). You might be wondering what you could do to make their week fantastic. One surefire strategy for bringing smiles to their faces is by letting patients in on the secret. Tell your current set of patients you want to do something nice for your coworkers, but you need their help. Ask them to make a thank-you card for the nurse who takes care of them during the next shift in honor of Nurses Week. This request accomplishes two things. First, it helps patients be on the lookout for things their nurse is doing right (rather than focusing on stuff to complain about). Second, it gives you a sneaky way to make a difference in the lives of nurses you hardly know. That’s sure to be good karma!

Offer a Small but Beautiful Gift
Most nurses don’t need another tacky pen or coffee mug. But beautiful flowers are always a nice “thank you.” If your hospital has restrictions on bringing flowers into areas near patients, you might bring an arrangement to the lounge for everyone to enjoy there instead of at the nurses’ station. If you buy fresh-cut flowers at a wholesale club and plain glass vases at a craft store, putting together a couple of large and gorgeous arrangements can cost less than $60. Choose flower varieties that don’t produce pollen (such as formal doubles that have been bred to have lots of petals and no stamens). If flowers aren’t a good idea for your workplace, try balloons instead. If you can get the funds, tie a $5 iTunes gift card to each balloon so your coworkers can download music to help them get through a tough shift. You can even suggest a few soundtracks, such as our top 20 songs for nurses.

Distribute Badges of Honor
You’ll still have to wear your employer-issued ID during Nurses Week. But that’s not the only identification you can wear. Make “Best Nurse” badges to pass out to your coworkers. There could be one for “Best IV Stick” or “Outstanding Bedside Manner.” Or you could just alliterate and give everyone a descriptive name for the week, like “Dazzling Deanne,” “Awesome Andy,” “Courageous Carter” or “Fantastic Francis.” This will be one week when patients really do remember the names of all their nurses. If the nurses on your shift like to have fun, they can join in and make their own name badges. Hand out these badges in a short ceremony in the cafeteria or break room. Make a big to-do with music and have each nurse come up to receive their badge. If you can get the director or one of the other execs to hand out the badges (since you’ve already done the real work), that’s even better.

Get Some Positive Press
Have you and your coworkers done something noteworthy or newsworthy this year? It’s time to brag to the local press about it. Small newspapers and online publications love to print feel-good pieces from time to time (it breaks up the monotony of bad news and advertising that makes up 99 percent of most newspapers). Leverage this appetite for happy tales about people doing the right thing by seeing if a local reporter or even a blogger might be interested in featuring the nurses at your place of work in a positive piece for Nurses Week. Of course, you will want to check your workplace policy about talking to the press and route this request through the appropriate party if you work at a large hospital with a PR department. If you do succeed in getting your team in the paper or an online publication, remember to print out a copy of the article to post at work!

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