By Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP
National Nurses Week is the “official” time to shine a spotlight on nurses. But the truth is, we should be celebrating nurses and nursing every day throughout the year. So how can you get the ball rolling and start the party? Here are five ways:
1. Reflect on all that nursing has to offer. When you compare nursing to many other occupations, you’ll find that it offers good pay and benefits and a multitude of opportunities with a variety of work settings, specialties, and schedules. It even offers a growing number of opportunities for self-employment and advanced practice. I don’t know of any other profession that is more diverse. And the best part is that you have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and contribute to the health and well-being of the planet. Where else can you use your heart and your head every day to have a positive impact? The grass sometimes looks greener in someone else’s yard, but the fact is that nursing is one of the hottest professions around.
2. Study nursing’s rich history and spread the word. Nurses have literally changed the face of healthcare for the better and continue to do so — some in very dramatic ways. If each of us were more aware of our history, we would feel so much more proud and empowered to be part of such an amazing group. Read books about nurses and nursing history such as “Nursing, The Finest Art: An Illustrated History” by Patricia Donohue. Visit the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame page and acquaint yourself with incredible nurses — past and present. Do an Internet search for ‘ANA Hall of Fame’ to find it.
3. Attend nursing awards ceremonies. These events, such as the annual Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek Nursing Excellence Awards, are a celebration of all that is good and positive about nursing. These events serve to shine a light on nurses who exemplify what nursing is all about and what it is possible to achieve. When one nurse is honored, the entire professional is honored. These events may be held at your place of employment, through your professional associations, through media outlets, etc. And be sure to nominate someone you know for an award!
4. Share nursing’s stories. We all have those touching, funny, heartbreaking, and unforgettable moments that each of us has experienced over the years. Get together with nursing friends and colleagues and ask everyone to share a story or relate a pivotal moment. We don’t often talk about the work we do but we all have stories to tell. There is power, validation, and energy in sharing experiences. Read and share “Tenderly Lift Me” by Jeanne Bryner – a unique combination of poetry, stories, and photos that honor and celebrate everyday nurses.
5. Spread the word about nursing. Participate in career days at high schools, colleges, middle schools, and scouting events. When you meet a great nurses aide or tech or someone considering a career change, ask them if they’ve considered nursing. Sometimes in talking about nursing you realize how special the work you do is and how much others admire the profession. Refer interested parties to the Johnson & Johnson www.discovernursing.com Web site for information and inspiration. You can get free promotional materials there, too, to help get the word out. Browse the profiles yourself as another way to celebrate nursing.
Don’t wait for National Nurses Week each year to celebrate nursing. Get the “party” going now and keep it going all year long.
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