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Ways to celebrate National Nurses Day, Week, and Month

Nurses touch virtually every aspect of the spectrum of care, and it’s time they receive the credit they deserve.

National Nurses Day, Week, and Month

At a Glance

  • Nursing is the largest healthcare profession in the nation, and nurses deliver the majority of hospital and long-term patient care.
  • Nurses are historically underpaid and undervalued.
  • National Nurses Day (May 6), Week (May 6 to 12), and Month (May) are a small way to honor nurses and begin to give them the recognition they deserve.

At the end of the 19th century, Florence Nightingale revolutionized nursing by implementing hand-washing and hygiene practices while caring for wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, dramatically reducing the death rate from 40% to 2%.

This moment shaped the nursing profession as we know it today. During the month of May, we celebrate several nurse-focused holidays to honor the integral role nurses play in our lives.

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When is Nurses Day, and why do we celebrate it?

Nursing is the largest healthcare profession in the nation, boasting nearly 4.7 million registered nurses (RNs) across the country. Nurses form the backbone of our healthcare system and comprise the bulk of the healthcare workforce. They deliver the majority of hospital patient care and long-term care. In spite of this, they have been historically underpaid and undervalued. It’s past time that we celebrated the unsung heroes of the healthcare system. 

In response to this, the American Nurses Association introduced National Nurses Day, which is celebrated on May 6 and kicks off National Nurses Week and falls during National Nurses Month.

This year, be sure to show your nurses how much you appreciate them and value their contributions to your practice. 

When is Nurses Week?

National Nurses Week begins on May 6, which is National Nurses Day. The holiday marks the first day of National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

We all know one day is not enough to celebrate all that nurses do, and even a week feels unsubstantial — which is why we also celebrate nurses throughout the entire month of May and spend that time honoring the important work they do.

What is the theme for Nurses Week?

The 2024 theme "nurses make the difference" celebrates nurses' unwavering dedication and significant impact on patient care and services.

Nurses play many important roles in our healthcare system, from clinical nurses who provide bedside care to policymakers who work to improve conditions for patients and healthcare providers alike. Nurses touch virtually every aspect of the spectrum of care, and it’s time they receive the credit they deserve. 

How do you celebrate National Nurses Week?

The celebration of National Nurses Week can take many forms. The priority is to recognize nurses by providing them with something that is meaningful to them. Whether it’s by honoring the nurses on your team who have made a particular impact, treating them to a nice meal, or buying them gifts as a token of your appreciation, there are so many ways to demonstrate your gratitude. 

What are some ideas for Nurses Week activities?

According to nurses on Reddit, some gestures are more appreciated than others; specifically, time off and monetary compensation. 

Here are just some of the ways you can celebrate nurses in your workplace this year. 

1. Host a Nurses Week luncheon

Nurses are always on the go, and sometimes that means mealtimes are sacrificed. Treat your nurses to a catered lunch that will keep them satisfied while giving your team the chance to demonstrate their gratitude and solidify their bond. 

2. Acknowledge your nurses' dedication and effort

Recognition is important in any workplace; your staff wants to know their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. Consider hosting a gala or celebratory dinner to honor the hard work of nurses. Invite local media to spotlight their achievements or share their stories through newsletters, blogs, and social media posts.

3. Offer nurses opportunities for learning and career growth

Invite an industry expert to host a seminar that your colleagues would find both valuable and motivating. For instance, if there's a trending nursing technique like nurse informatics, consider bringing in a specialist who can provide insights into the subject.

4. Provide mental health support for nurses 

The challenges of the pandemic and staffing shortages have taken a toll on nurses' mental well-being, underscoring the importance of prioritizing their mental and emotional health. Hosting sessions facilitated by trained experts, such as therapists or counselors, can create a safe space for nurses to open up about their feelings and challenges.

5. Implement relaxation techniques

Nurses work hard, and the care they give to others shouldn’t come at the expense of their well-being. Encourage your nurses with a moment of self-care, be it meditation or yoga — or consider bringing in a masseuse to your practice if your budget allows. 

6. Give nurses a break

Nurses need time to rest and recuperate from the often stressful nature of their day-to-day lives. Offering them the opportunity to detach from their duties, whether by extending paid time off or ensuring that they maintain regular work hours, will greatly benefit them and reduce burnout.

Remember, expressing gratitude doesn't need to be extravagant. A simple and sincere "thank you" goes a long way to making nurses feel seen and appreciated. 

For more tips to help you manage your independent practice and compete with big health systems, download Tebra’s Independent Provider Playbook: 5 ways to beat hospitals and corporations at their own game.

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Anya Leibovitch, content specialist

Anya Leibovitch leverages her background in creative writing to transform technical jargon into educational content. Anya believes that independent practices foster more motivated and focused physicians who prioritize their relationships with patients — leading to enhanced care. Through her writing and research, she stays informed about the latest trends and advancements in the healthcare industry.

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