Memo from a nurse: Why is Nurses Week so weak?

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May 6-12 is when nurses are nationally recognized for their efforts during Nurses Week. It’s a celebration of all things nursing. During that week, you have National Nurses Day, Student Nurses Day, and School Nurses Day to recognize the individual efforts of these “types” of nurses. The week ends on May 12, the birthday of the founder and mother of the nursing profession, Florence Nightingale.

Everybody with me?

Until recently, I’ve always enjoyed Nurses Week. I usually got a cool trinket or gift from my employer, and my fellow nurses would joke about the one time of the year we nurses actually are noticed.

These days, it seems the only time of the year we DO get recognized is now being watered-down (and maybe even flushed away) next to another nationally recognized week–National Hospital Week, which is May 10-16 this year. The only difference I see from year to year is that the actual dates for Hospital Week can differ slightly, while Nurses Week always starts and ends on the same dates!

I guess maybe that’s my problem. Why must another week-long national celebration trample on the toes of our celebration? (I kept getting circling results, so I gave up searching for some relevant history on National Hospital Week and the coinciding date.) Obviously, the celebration dates for National Nurses Week bear significance with one of its founding mothers.

In my opinion, nurses are getting shortchanged simply because most nurses work in hospitals, so it’s more convenient and cost-effective to celebrate both weeks jointly than to have two separate celebrations (it’s always about the money, you know).

Also, the health care personnel who are being recognized are equally shortchanged, because now they share their “week” with a much larger group of fellow health care professionals (nurses).

It’s become so common and convenient to lump them together that I found numerous articles that meshed this celebration into one singular event (I refrained from naming names here).

Deep breath.

Maybe I’m being selfish. Maybe I’m being obtuse. But the last time I checked, we nurses rarely, if ever, ask for recognition. And the one and only time the nation recognizes our sacrifices they decide to divvy up the recognition with another holiday?

What am I missing here?

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