National Nurses Week Is Approaching. How Will Health Systems Appreciate Their Frontline Workers?

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The Most Common Career Paths for Nurses

By Rhonda Basler

Hope. Courage. Healing. These aren’t buzzwords — particularly after the past year.

Though times have been difficult,essential healthcare workers have stepped up to the plate and earned kudos from a grateful world — even while enduring unparalleled levels of stress. This is especially true for nurses.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, up to 54% of nurses struggled with burnout before the pandemic. And now, 60% say they might leave the profession, according to Holliblu and Feedtrail. Nobody wants nurses to undergo so much occupational anxiety that resigning seems the only option. Still, increasing caseloads and double shifts are a necessary reality.

Despite all of this, hospital leaders can showcase gratitude in special ways during May’s National Nurses and Hospital Weeks (May 6-12 andMay 9-15, respectively). Thankfully, these solutions can be quick and cost-effective enough to make sure you can use a little to do a lot.

How to Easily Demonstrate Nurse Appreciation Without a Big Budget

Medicine doesn’t only deal with what can be seen or touched — it also deals with emotions. Nurses have given more emotionally than anyone could have expected. They’ve dealt with helplessness. They’ve worked through tragedies. They’ve healed strangers despite their own exhaustion and pain.

It’s time to heal the healers by doing what always works in times of hardship: showing thanks. Hospitals can never say “thank you” enough. In fact, expressing gratitude can have far-reaching (and almost magical) effects. It bolsters spirits and tells people their sacrifices have been noticed and appreciated.

Of course, wanting to showcase gratitude during National Nurses Week is one thing. Coming up with simple, powerful ways to do it is another. Below are some simple, cost-effective ways to show nurses some well-deserved gratitude — no matter your schedule:

1. Ask patients (and the community) to thank nursing staff. Employer-to-employee gratitude matters. As such, hospitals might want to create a heartfelt internal video thanking healthcare staff. Regardless, nurses appreciate receiving notes of thanks from others, too. That includes patients and community members they interact with daily.

During National Nurses Week, encourage patients to write thank-you notes and cards for nurses. Make notecards available to streamline the process, and offer construction paper and crayons for little ones. The notes they receive will go a long way.

And while hospitals might not be able to set up a community parade for nurses, they don’t have to. Instead, they can urge the community to shower nurses with affection with yard signs, billboards, and media spotlights. Hospitals can even ask people to mail a shower of cards to nurses they know. Get creative: Folks on social media can also post “thank you” messages.

2. Urge employees to recognize one another. Who knows the acts of kindness nurses undertake better than their colleagues? Hospitals can also make cards available to nurses so they can write little pick-me-ups to each other. It’s rare that co-workers have the chance to tell one another “great job” formally, but cards prompt people to jot down those feelings in real time.

3. Uplift nurses’ support systems. Without supportive people, nurses and healthcare workers couldn’t shoulder the day-to-day tussle of life in medical facilities. Consequently, acknowledge the roles of these behind-the-scenes helpers.

For instance, hospitals can send a double thank-you card to nurses. A nurse gets the first card, and the second is for the nurse to pass along to one of their cheerleaders. Including a gift card that could be shared by both the nurse and their supporter could be a nice touch, too.

4. Treat nurses as the healthcare heroes they are. Healthcare workers have become like veterans: a close-knit group with an unbreakable bond. With this, consider highlighting their individual and collective hero status with honors.

Hand out certificates, trophies, and plaques. Give nurses medals. Create awards individualized for the roles team members played throughout the pandemic. This reminds nurses that their importance was noticed during one of the most difficult periods in recent medical history.

Budgets are tight. That’s true. Nevertheless, healthcare leaders should remember their nurses and other frontline workers this May. It doesn’t take a boatload of swag to indicate a ton of gratitude — and make a nurse smile.

Rhonda Basler leads the customer engagement and marketing team at Hallmark Business Connections, Hallmark’s B2B subsidiary. Her passion is innovating human-centered and results-oriented approaches to customer experience, employee engagement, and omnichannel marketing, creating great ROI through human connection. Follow her on Twitter at @rkbasler.

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