It's bittersweet to think about 2020 as the "Year of the Nurse." The Covid-19 epidemic has forced nurses to risk their personal safety to deliver care—many in some of the most difficult practice environments in living memory. Yet there has been no finer showcase of nursing excellence, fortitude, compassion, and ingenuity than the past four months.
Nurses Month celebrations to commemorate the "Year of the Nurse" are slated to begin May 6 and run through the entire month of May. While some organizations have postponed their celebrations to protect nurse and patient safety, I recommend that all leaders use this month as an opportunity to recognize and thank nursing staff for their heroism.
Below are a few ideas I've collected for how to celebrate your nursing workforce safely:
- Host a virtual awards ceremony. Granting DAISY Awards or other recognition of achievement is usually the cornerstone of nursing celebrations. Even if you decide to postpone an in-person celebration, try to still host a live (albeit virtual) event for your honorees. For example, some organizations are hosting a virtual recognition dinner with the full leadership team, with dinner for two delivered to each of the honorees' homes.
- Thank their families. Nurses' families have been making sacrifices throughout the epidemic so their loved ones can deliver care. Show your appreciation by mailing a thank-you note and a token of gratitude—for example, a pizza-making kit.
- Create spaces for nurses to share their stories. Give nurses an opportunity to recognize their peers by creating a live forum to share their stories on the front line. If asking staff to join a meeting is too time intensive, you can collect video clips or photos in advance and compile them in a video to be shared on your organization's website and intranet.
- Ask the community to share their thanks. Nursing has rarely been as publicly recognized as it is today. Give the community the opportunity to share their thanks with your staff. You can ask your marketing department to create a forum where the public can share videos of themselves thanking your organization's nurses—which can be compiled and shared throughout the month. Another option is to encourage community leaders to start a cloth face mask drive for hospital staff.
- Have executive leaders publicly express their gratitude. Many organizations are creating videos of the executive team thanking nurses for their service. Other options are to do a live panel session of nurse leaders to share their stories, or send a thank you note on behalf of nursing leadership to each nurse's home.
- Offer a chance to connect with nursing leadership. Nursing leaders can make themselves personally available to staff, as long as it meets hospital safety standards. For example, one organization is planning a "Latte with Leaders" event, where staff can connect with nurse leaders stationed by a free 24-hour coffee cart.
- Leverage community food donations. Food, another staple of nursing celebrations, has rarely been more plentiful as local business across the country donate meals to hospitals. Take advantage of this generosity by doubling down on food-related recognition. Send meals to each unit, deliver dinner to nurses at home, or designate each day of the week to a different snack available to nurses. Another option is to hire an ice cream truck to visit different sites across the system—managers can come pick up treats for their team at staggered times to avoid a crowd.
- Keep the "blessing of the hands." A "blessing of a hands" ceremony can be a particularly meaningful tradition for staff. It's also one of the most difficult to do virtually. Even if your organization postpones their in-person blessing, keep the spirit of the ritual alive by having a chaplain do a blessing virtually or via overhead announcement. Another option is to give staff bookmarks or other mementos with the blessing inscribed.
How are you celebrating Nurses Month? Send me your strategy, photos, videos, and other ways you're thanking your nurses at VirkstiK@advisory.com.