Personal thoughts on Nurses Week 2013

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Ah, Nurses Week.

Or should I say Hospital Week? Because it seems some facilities have renamed the week to include all patient care staff, and quite a few nurses are not happy about sharing the spotlight. I won’t even bring up what day shift gets that night shift does not. (Let the moaning begin…)

I have a few thoughts about this year’s Nurses Week, which starts on May 6th and ends May 12th.

Personal thoughts on Nurses Week 2013

1. Appreciation for nurses is not limited to one week.

There are many reasons nursing has long been considered one of the most trustworthy professions.  Friends, families of patients and even a few doctors have expressed appreciation to me and other nurses for our service and compassion. We all know that the appreciation expressed from these private sources is so much better than receiving doodads with nursing logos on them one week out of the year. (Although some good pens are always welcomed!) Enjoy the appreciation year-round.

2. Nurses are not islands.

Some home health or military nurses may beg to differ–providing patient care outside comfortable hospital or clinic walls may feel like you’ve been stranded on an island. But for most of us, we have doctors, other nurses, ancillary personnel, dietary staff, lactation staff, technicians and many others who contribute to patient care.

We can tell a lot about our motivations by what peeves us. If you’re miffed about not being special enough for a “just nurses” week, reevaluate your perspective. We would need all 52 weeks to celebrate each category of healthcare staff, and everyone who works in healthcare deserves appreciation!

Can we be willing to share our week in recognition that we cannot produce effective patient care on our own? Absolutely.

3. Nurses are the best encouragers of nurses.

Patient care, strict regulations, poor management and overtime hours frequently drain our inner tanks of stamina. We often feel underappreciated, understaffed and over-criticized. When a facility schedules activities and promotions in appreciation for their employees, pleasing everyone is impossible…and some staff seem to make sure everyone knows that.

So let’s get real. Is this really our employers’ problem? Or is it our problem? Could we celebrate Nurses Week by putting away discontent, frustration and anger for six days? Could we put aside our differences and celebrate our profession in spite of its imperfections?

Only nurses can really understand how nurses should be celebrated. So let’s make it happen. I encourage every nurse to show appreciation to at least two other coworkers during Nurses Week. Write short notes. Cover a public wall or door in paper and hang a pen there to encourage nurses to leave notes of thanks and encouragement to coworkers (nurses or otherwise). Get together with a few shift coworkers to plan a potluck, or arrange to have a brief party on night shift to celebrate being a team.

Make your Nurses Week how you want it to be.

How are you celebrating Nurses Week? How can you improve Nurses Week for your own coworkers? Tell us in the comments!

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Jessica Ellis

With experience in multiple specialties such as ER, ICU, CVICU, PACU, NICU and case management, Jessica has also been a key contributor for several of the world’s leading healthcare publishers. Jessica has been certified in CPR, BLS Instructor, PHTLS, ACLS, TNCC, CFRN, NRP, PALS and CPS. She previously functioned as an editor and contributor for, and an author/editor of numerous online nursing CEU courses for Coursepark. Jessica accepts ongoing professional nursing writing contracts for both authoring and editing from major textbook and online education publishers internationally.

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2 Responses to Personal thoughts on Nurses Week 2013

  1. Granny RN

    ‘Nurses Week’. Humbug!
    Nurses recognize THEMSELVES every day of every week of every year by what they DO and by HOW they Make A Difference in the lives of everyone from patients to families to doctors and other staff members.
    Who needs another coffee mug or pen when what we do is PRICELESS?
    Only those who ARE Nurses can fully understand what gives us our ‘strokes’-the feeling of absolute satisfaction in knowing that we did ALL that we could by using our training, experience and instincts on any given day and in any place. THAT is what keeps us going. Not some obligatory ‘observation’ by one’s employer for one week out of the year.
    So to all who carried the Lamp and took the Oath: Pat each other on the back, Stand together for better patient care conditions, Mentor others and know that you are Making a Difference wherever you are: in a hospital, a desert aid station, an evac aircraft, on the back of a horse in Appalachia or in someone’s home.
    Whether anyone else notices what you do or not!

    • I agree with you on most of this, but It certainly doesn’t hurt to get a few “thank yous” and “great job” from administration every now and then.
      I think it’s a shame that many facilities reserve their nonrecognition for this week and that nurses should be celebrated year round.