Showing Appreciation: How You Can Celebrate National Nurses Week

Nurses do so much for people during the most vulnerable moments of their lives. They provide daily care and manage pain for patients, offer comfort and companionship, and act as a bridge between patients and their providers or families. Without nurses, our healthcare system simply wouldn’t function!

It’s important to show appreciation for nurses all year, of course. If you’re a patient, family member, or colleague, you should make sure to thank them for all that they do! However, showing appreciation for nurses can and should go beyond a simple thank-you — especially during National Nurses Week. Here’s how you can celebrate.

What Is National Nurses Week?

Every year, May 6-12 is the time to show extra appreciation for nurses. Their sacrifices and compassion are responsible for people successfully recovering from illnesses and injuries every single day, but during this week, people are called on to make nurses feel extra special.

The first International Nurse Day was celebrated on May 12th, 1974, commemorating the birthday of the mother of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. Other celebrations have been established over the years, but The American Nurses Association (ANA) officially designated National Nurses Week in 1990, and it has been celebrated ever since. May 6th is known as National RN Recognition Day.

How Individuals Can Show Appreciation for Nurses

If you are an individual who has been impacted by the care and compassion of a nurse during your life (and let’s face it, most of us have!) or you have friends in the nursing profession, consider showing your appreciation during the next National Nurses Week.

One way you can show your appreciation is to order food for nurses at your local hospital. Nurses are on their feet all day, and they rarely have time to enjoy a relaxing lunch. Providing food is a fantastic gesture that everyone on staff will appreciate.

If you have friends who are nurses, why not surprise them with a small gift, like a coffee gift card? Or, you could take them out for lunch or dinner. There are so many ways you can honor hardworking nurses in your life!

Want to take things a step further? See if your local coffee shop, library, or other community space will let you put up a wall of appreciation where people can write messages and thank-you notes.

You can also take your appreciation online. Participate in social media campaigns about National Nurses Week and consider donating to healthcare nonprofits that support nurses around the world.

How Hospitals and Nursing Managers Can Celebrate

Healthcare organizations are in a perfect position to celebrate nurses during National Nurses Week. There are so many ways to show appreciation for nurses if you are a nurse manager or hospital director, through team-building events, gifts, and more.

When thinking about ways to show appreciation, consider options that everyone on staff can enjoy. Host an appreciation dinner, get lunch for your team every day during the week, hand out gift cards, or bring in someone to give chair massages. Nurses work so hard that they often have trouble taking breaks. Help them out by scheduling activities or providing services that help them relax.

Nurses can even visit classrooms and talk about the nursing profession to help kids learn more about what nurses do, why they’re important, and a little bit about the history of nursing. This is a great opportunity to team up with your local library to highlight books about nursing as well!

Ways Organizations Recognize Nurses

During National Nurses Week, some organizations step up to show appreciation for the nursing community and the critical role they play in providing patient care.

Lots of restaurant chains offer discounts or freebies during National Nurses Week. Chipotle has offered free burritos, Potbelly Sandwiches has given away drinks and cookies with the purchase of an entrée, and Dunkin’ Donuts has given away free coffee to healthcare workers.

In 2020 and 2021, when nurses were risking their lives to help COVID patients recover, the shoe company Crocs provided 10,000 pairs of its shoes for free to nurses and other healthcare personnel working with these patients. In 2021, Crocs donated nearly one million pairs of shoes to healthcare workers!

Help Prevent Nurse Burnout by Showing Appreciation

Nursing is an extremely fulfilling profession, but it’s also very stressful. Many nurses develop burnout or even compassion fatigue, causing their mental and physical health to suffer. Some even leave the field of nursing altogether. This is a huge loss for patients who depend on their care, and we need to remember that nurses need care too!

We need to support nurses and thank them for the support they provide for us all year long. Next National Nurses Week, set aside some time or cash to make a nurse smile. It doesn’t take much to show your appreciation, but it can mean everything!  

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