Many nurses love their jobs. In fact, one of the most significant advantages of being a nurse is the emotional reward of making a difference in the lives of patients. Day in and day out, nurses help people in their most vulnerable states and often serve as patient advocates, giving patients a voice where they need it. Furthermore, nurses are at a patient’s bedside through all the ups and downs and prioritize a patient’s path to healing. In recognition of all that nurses do, National Nurses Week was created to honor and celebrate the great contributions and tremendous sacrifices nurses make every day to improve the lives of others.
National Nurses Week, also known as Nurse Appreciation Week and Nurse Appreciation Day, begins on May 6 and continues through May 12. This celebratory week is a chance to celebrate nurses and the critical role they play in healthcare. So, whether you are currently working as a nurse or want to recognize another dedicated nurse in the field, below are some fun and meaningful ways to celebrate National Nurses Week.
The History of Nurses Week
The birth of National Nurses Week begins with Florence Nightingale and her innovative contributions to nursing that changed the landscape of healthcare forever. Florence Nightingale was a British nurse who served as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War in 1854. Nightingale, nicknamed “The Lady of the Lamp,” was often the first point of contact for soldiers during their most dire moments. Nightingale used her informal nursing expertise to make hospitals and medical camps cleaner and safer. As a result of her healthcare reform, Nightingale was able to decrease the death rate of patients under her and her team’s care, as well as advocate for more women to join the nursing force. Years later, after returning from the war, Florence Nightingale continued to promote cleaner conditions in hospitals and be an advocate for excellence in patient care.
So why do we celebrate nurse appreciation week today? Nightingale’s important healthcare innovation led to the initial founding of “International Nurses Day.” This day was founded by the International Council of Nurses in 1974 and was celebrated on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12. Subsequently, the celebration was promoted by the American Nurses Association and officially extended to a week-long observance that occurs during the second week of May and ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
What Can You Do to Celebrate National Nurses Week?
How can one honor Florence NIghtingale, other historical nurses, and nurses who serve the community today? It’s easy really; all it takes is a meaningful gesture or two. This can be in the form of a gift, a card, or simply telling a hard-working nurse how much they are valued. Check out a few ways to celebrate the dedicated and life-saving nurses in our world:
Make a Nurse Goodie Basket
What nurse wouldn’t love and appreciate an awesome nurse gift basket? With that in mind, the best nurse appreciation gift baskets are filled with nurse essentials and perhaps a sweet treat or two! Here is a simple idea for a deliciously sweet and meaningful nurse goodie basket that you can put together quickly for nurse appreciation week:
- Start with a woven wicker basket with a handle, and stuff it with crinkle confetti filling.
- Next, pack your basket with a few nurse essentials, such as a stethoscope name tag, a personalized Registered Nurse coffee mug, and/ or a comfy custom Registered Nurse sweatshirt.
- Finally, fill the rest of the nurse goodie basket with mouthwatering chocolate and candy—or if the nurse you are honoring loves coffee, stuff the basket with a bag or two of Fair Trade USDA Organic Coffee blends.
That’s it! You’ve now assembled a perfect nurse appreciation basket to honor that exceptional nurse in your life!
Celebrate at Work
If you work in healthcare and want to honor not just one nurse but a team of nurses, celebrating Nurse Appreciation Week at work can be a great way to do just that. Below are some simple but creative ways to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions of nurses at work:
- Host a breakfast or lunch in the break room by bringing in catered foods to honor a team of nurses.
- Decorate the nurses’ station with a thank you message and an appreciation theme.
- Gift a nurse or two with a special nurse-themed gift certificate—think nursing shoes, gel inserts, scrubs, or a pre-paid subscription to a mental wellness app.
- Send a tailored email to a nurse or a team of nurses telling them how much they are appreciated.
- Simply say thanks to a nurse for all their dedication and commitment to their work.
If you yourself are a nurse, then you also deserve recognition on National Nurses Week. Therefore, go ahead and schedule a little self-care and pampering! The best way you can take credit for all the amazing work you have done as a nurse is to give yourself a chance to relax. That’s right! Nurses who take the time to indulge in self-care as well as participate in hobbies outside of work are less likely to experience burnout. Here are a few ways you can celebrate nurse appreciation week on your own:
- Schedule a spa day by yourself or with friends.
- Take a bubble bath after a long nursing shift.
- Go on a hike with your family or a close friend.
- Treat yourself to a new pair of nursing shoes or a scrub uniform.
- Write down a few mantras that inspire you to be the best nurse you can be.
Celebrate All Nurses on National Nurses Week
Whether you are currently working as a nurse or admire the work of nurses in general, National Nurses Week is the perfect time to recognize how nurses around the world keep people safe and healthy. And while there are a million ways to honor the labor of devoted nurses, remember that sometimes a simple “thanks” is enough to make a nurse feel appreciated for their work.
How will you celebrate nurse appreciation week in 2023?