When a child is sick or there’s an ache you can’t explain, the first person you’ll talk to is a nurse. Once a year, we have the opportunity to recognize the front line of healthcare (after mom, of course). Nurses are transforming healthcare one patient at a time, working harrowing hours as the backbone of the medical industry.
How do we honor our nurses? We celebrate National Nurses Week in May of every year and spend a week showing our appreciation for these dedicated men and women. Not only do these activities need be fun and affordable, which is always a challenge in itself, but it’s also a great opportunity to include some media outreach and promote the value of nursing in your local community.
While National Nurses Week for this year has passed in some areas, Houston is celebrating it this week. Celebrate them today, and if you begin planning now for 2015, you will be able to implement many of these efforts that are low cost but have a huge impact on the nurses and the facility as a whole.
- Massages in the work place are a great way to show your staff you really care. “Therapeutic massage can address the stress problems that nurse’s encounter on a day to day basis. They alleviate chronic pain, tension, headaches, and increase productivity” says Tamara Tardy, whose gifted hands provide relief for the Houston Ballet, Alley Theater, ExxonMobil and several hospitals in the Houston area. (Tip: Invite several massage therapists to set up shop on-site and task the reception desk with scheduling time so that each member of the team can enjoy a massage.)
- Food and awards seem to go nicely together. Let your staff know they are valued by hosting an award breakfast, lunch or all day buffet. Nurses can rotate so that everyone can have the opportunity to attend and enjoy the event while managers give awards and acknowledge nurses who have excelled in fulfilling their role. (Tip: Some HR professionals schedule annual supplier negotiations to coincide with the planning of nurse’s week to get more support for the events.)
- Make it fun. Playful activities and contests can be incorporated into professional development, and the winners of these contests can receive gift certificates or prizes donated from suppliers and vendors. Some examples of these activities might be setting up a relay race in which nurses have to check vital signs, calculate a dose of medication, or come up with a new slogan for the unit. (Tip: Align the contests with your next continuing education/training topics so that you can reflect back on the memories, activities and winners for greater engagement from your team.)
- Let your decorations do double duty! Invite former patients, nursing students, and doctors to write ‘thank you’s’ to nurses who have made a difference in their lives. Add a little color and trim, then post these praises prominently so that everyone can see the impact nurses have in our lives while promoting the professional and personal attributes that characterize these amazing people. (Tip – use the verbiage in these ‘thank you’s’ on next year’s promo pieces and individual giveaways because sentiment from the heart is priceless.)
- Say it loud and say it proud. During Nurses Week, don’t forget to spread the word about the value of nurses in the community and the efforts your facility is making to show your appreciation. Contact your local newspaper or write a press release about your events, submit an article on Nurses Week to industry publications, and take pictures and post to social media and your website. Promoting the value of nurses is essential to ensuring future generations rise and aspire, but this is also a valuable opportunity to improve on the branding and culture of your organization. (Tip – look for cross-promotional opportunities in exchange for discounts on supplies for the event.)
Always remember that recognition is only effective if it touches the person on an emotional level. If you can make it meaningful, personal and sincere, you don’t have to go broke. A handwritten note stuck to a bag of one’s favorite candy can be more effective than an anonomous cash gift. If you plan in advance and elicit help from students, volunteers, vendors and suppliers, you don’t have to go crazy. The key here is to start with a blueprint of last year’s events, and apply delegation and advanced communication.
How did you celebrate Nurses Week? Lend us ideas, failures and successes in the comments.