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Nurses Week: Much ado about nothing?

Image: Jan Tyler | iStock Exclusive | Getty Images

Rebecca Hendren made a big splash on the Web with her essay, “Do We Still Need Nures Week?“ She concludes that the answer is yes, but wishes it wasn’t so. Hendren wishes that nurses got the respect they deserved every single day of the week. Trinkets will never amount to much, she says, so show nurses the power.

“ Let’s… celebrate the highly-skilled professionals who possess critical-thinking, problem-solving, and care coordination skills that ensure patient safety every day,” Hendren writes.

Other disciplines, Hendren says, aren’t singled out for such syrupy-sweet celebrations. But while Hendren warns nurses not to hold their breath for Respiratory Therapy Week, the truth is that National Respiratory Care Week is alive and well. (It’s at the end of October.) So is National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (Apr. 18-24), National Physician Assistants Week (Oct. 6-12) and National EMS Week (May 16-22). Physical therapists get a whole month (October), while dieticians and doctors each get a day (Mar. 10 and May 30, respectively).

Besides, nurses seem to like the concept of a special week. How else to explain National Nurse Anesthetists Week (Jan. 23-29), National Nurse Practitioner Week (Apr. 5-11) and National Midwifery Week (Oct. 4-10)?

True, the sad little attempts at recognition that appear every May 6 and disappear on May 12 may seem like a poor substitute for professional respect. After all, “it doesn’t take much to appreciate a nurse,” writes Marijke Durning, RN. “A smile, a thank you. A sincere appreciation of what it is nurses do to help people.” And from admin? Durning suggests perhaps it’s about more pay.

But maybe National Nurses Week isn’t so bad after all. What do you think?  Is Nurses Week an idea whose time has come and gone?

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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.
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