In case you haven’t heard, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse. Not only is 2020 the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, it will also mark the release of the WHO’s first-ever State of the World’s Nursing Report.
Make sure your colleagues know it’s happening.
The first step to celebrating the Year of the Nurse is making sure that everyone knows about it. Tell all your medical colleagues—definitely nurses and midwives, but also physicians, surgeons and anyone else you work closely with. If you’d like your friends and family to join you in supporting your fellow nurses, be sure to spread to word to them, too. If your facility is large enough to have a marketing team, you might want to reach out to them so they can help you promote the initiative both internally and externally.
Start or join a Nursing Now group.
Nursing Now is another one of the WHO’s initiatives to support nurses. The three-year campaign was launched in 2018 and will wrap up in 2020 alongside the Year of the Nurse. You can support Nursing Now by signing their online pledge, sharing their social media kit and joining one of their local or regional groups, which are available in more than 100 countries. If you don’t already have a group in your area, you and your nurses can start one yourselves. More information is available on the Nursing Now website.
Give them ribbons, buttons or badges to wear.
Your nurses can promote the Year of the Nurse as they go about their daily shifts by wearing a ribbon, button or badge holder printed with a message like “Ask Me About the Year of the Nurse!” You can get them printed independently at a variety of custom retailers, or the marketing department might be able to help you with it. If your facility is okay with it, you can also put up signage and posters around the building to further promote the Year of the Nurse.
Encourage them to pursue professional development.
What better way to celebrate the Year of the Nurse than by encouraging your nurses to become more experienced professionals? Familiarize yourself with what professional development resources your employer offers—i.e., tuition reimbursement, time off for training, covering conference expenses, etc.—and communicate that to your staff. Work with your nurses to arrange their shifts so they have time to participate in continuing education. To spread the knowledge even further, ask them to present their major takeaways at your next meeting.
Create a mentorship program.
Mentorship is one of the cornerstones of a successful nursing career, but it can be tough to find someone that you click with. Send around a questionnaire asking who would be willing to participate in a mentoring program and what they’d like to learn more about. Is it a particular specialization? Preparing for a promotion? How to manage a team? Then, match up mentors and mentees based on interests and ask them to go out for coffee or lunch to get to know one another and share their wisdom.
Sponsor a breakfast or dinner.
The last thing nurses want to do after a long shift is to cook dinner, so make the next meal easy on them by treating them to a sponsored event. Either have food catered to the facility, take them out to eat or host a dinner party at your house, depending on what vibe you’re going for. Make sure to ask about any food allergies or dietary restrictions in advance so everyone can partake. Even if it’s just some homemade breakfast treats left in the breakroom, your nurses will still feel your appreciation!
Upgrade the break room.
Sometimes the only consolation during a long, bad nursing shift is a steaming cup of coffee and a little snack. If your break room only has one malfunctioning coffee machine, see if you can appropriate some of your budget to upgrade things and improve your nurses’ hard-earned breaks. If that’s not possible, you might be able to raise the money among the nurses themselves, or family and friends. If everyone contributes a little bit, it won’t take much before you can buy yourselves a fancy espresso machine.
Send letters of appreciation.
Thank you cards are a standard for a reason: Not only are they affordable, they’re also heartfelt, and a handwritten letter means a lot more than a gift card that anyone could have bought. If you don’t have the budget for some of the other items on this list (or even if you do), grab a set of nice stationery and block off a couple of hours to write thank-you letters for your team. Try to think of specific traits and examples that are tailored to each individual instead of using the same boilerplate for everyone. The cards don’t have to be long, but if they’re personal, just a few lines will mean a lot.
Host an awards ceremony.
Your facility likely hosts some kind of awards or recognition ceremony at the end of the year. But why wait that long to see if you’re one of the privileged few? Get some fun drinks and desserts and host an informal awards ceremony for your team. The awards can range from the serious (most encouraging) to the fun (cutest scrubs). Keep it affordable with print-off certificates or upgrade things with a plaque or award if your budget allows it. You can also make this a recurring activity and hand out a “Nurse of the Week” or “Nurse of the Month” award on a regular basis.
Nurses work on the frontlines of patient care and deserve to be recognized for all their hard work. The 2020 Year of the Nurse is the perfect time to acknowledge all the nurses on your team and show them how much you appreciate them.
About the Author
Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com. A site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys. She keeps busy interviewing caregivers and writing about them and loves gardening.