Nurses are the engine of health care. With National Nurses Week just around the corner, here are some ideas for how you can celebrate yourself and the nurses around you.

Given that the United States has over 3 million registered nurses, it’s no surprise that an entire week has been dedicated to celebrating one of the most trusted professions in the country: nursing.

Taking place from May 6 through May 12, National Nurses Week is an annual initiative first established in 1993 by the American Nurses Association (ANA). The purpose of this annual week is two-fold: to celebrate individuals within the profession and to increase the general public’s awareness of it.

Whether you’re a nurse, work with nurses, or simply have benefitted from the care that nurses provide, you can join in the celebration and help show appreciation for nurses everywhere.

If You’re a Nurse

For nurses, this week is a chance to slow down and remember what first drew you to this profession. Besides eating cake with your colleagues, here are a few more ways that you can participate in the celebrations:

  1. Share your story on social media. A lot of misconceptions about the nursing profession are due simply to the public’s lack of knowledge. You can help change that by sharing your story with the people in your community or online via social media. You can also follow along with thousands of other nurses during National Nurse Week using #NursesWeek on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  2. Attend the ANA webinar. Every year, as a part of the week’s celebrations, ANA hosts a webinar to provide education and inspiration for nurses. This year’s webinar, Nurses4Us: Elevating the Profession, takes place on May 8 from 1:00 – 2:00 EDT. You can even gain a continuing education credit for attending the webinar.
  3. Stock up on celebratory gear. The ANA e-store is stocked to the brim with celebratory items like clothing, drinkware, totes, and more. Browse the store to find the perfect item for yourself.
  4. Review your career goals. Are you satisfied and fulfilled in your current position? Where do you want to go in the next five, 10, 15 years? Evaluate whether or not you need further education, like an MSN or DNP, to achieve those goals.

Related: Concordia partners with local colleges to address O.R. nursing shortage

If You’re a Nurse Supervisor

Make sure your nurses know how much you appreciate them by turning the nurse station into a festive atmosphere with signs, balloons, and streamers to announce the special week. You can also send out an email to other departments in your organization to alert them about National Nurses Week and encourage them to show their gratitude to the nurses.

You can also work with the executive team at your facility to figure out a special way to say thank you to your nurses. For example, in the midst of the stressful work environment, you could offer an oasis of relaxation by bringing massage therapists to give free massages to nursing staff. You could also allow nurses to purchase food and drinks (especially coffee!) at a reduced price from the cafeteria or food vendors within the facility in lieu of candy, cookies, and donuts to show mindfulness to dietary preferences.

If You’re Not a Nurse

Even if you aren’t a nurse, chances are that you’ve been impacted by one at some point in your life. The most heartwarming gift for any nurse to receive is the sincere gratitude of a patient. Those who were once in the role of patients can send simple thank you cards to the nurses who have taken care of them. Nothing is more valuable to a nurse than knowing that he/she made a difference in the life of a person.

If you know a nurse personally, chances are you’ve probably bugged them many times with questions ranging from “What is this rash?” to “Is this serious? Should I go to the doctor?” Now’s your chance to show your gratitude.

Reach out to nurses that you know to say thank you, share your story of impact on social media, or drop off a small token of appreciation at your local hospital. Gifts such as pens with a built-in light and ruler markings or a badge clip with an engraved statement thanking the nursing profession are good options, or you can shop the ANA e-store for customized National Nurses Week gifts. You can even go the self-care route and gift nurses with a gift card for a massage or spa treatment.

Regardless of your connection to the nursing profession, make it a priority to show appreciation and celebrate the nurses around you this May.

Assistant professor of nursing Mihaela Zegrean contributed to this article. 

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