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National Nurses Day: How to Celebrate Nurses Day

It’s time to put a special week on your calendar! National Nurses Week is celebrated every year from May 6th-12th as a way to recognize the contributions that nurses make to the community and the vital role they play in health care.

As a little background, the first national recognition of nurses occurred in 1954 during the 100th anniversary of famous nurse Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea, where she brought a team of 38 volunteer nurses to care for the British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War. During President Ronald Reagan’s term, he signed a proclamation recognizing May 6th as a day to honor nurses. By 1990, the American Nurses Association expanded the recognition to a week-long celebration, culminating on May 12—Nightingale’s birthday.

History aside, National Nurses Day is the perfect opportunity to simply say “thank you” for all they do. There’s no doubt nurses have a tough job. If you’d like to take your appreciation a step beyond, here are a few ideas to honor a nursing professional in your life:

Write a Handwritten Note

The first person who cares for you or a loved one in the hospital is often a nurse. If you can think of a time and situation where they made you feel better or showed they cared, give them a handwritten thank-you card. It’s a sincere and heartfelt gesture that just might make someone’s day. If you think they deserve extra special recognition, maybe send a letter of gratitude to their manager or to a hospital administrator. Everyone likes to hear good news and how lives are impacted in a positive way, especially in a caregiving setting.

Food for the Soul

Nurses are always on the go and don’t necessarily have time to think about healthy food choices, even if it is a priority for them. Instead of bringing in goodies like cakes and cookies, which is ironically a popular token of appreciation at healthcare facilities, try to think of some other options that keep their well-being in mind. A platter of fruits, veggies, cheeses, nuts, and whole grains is one idea. Another idea is to give them a $25 gift certificate to a local grocery store so they can pick out their own items, or have a popular home delivery meal box shipped so they can cook their own food.

Massage Therapy

Nurse or caregiver burnout (also known as “compassion fatigue”) typically manifests from chronic stress. A good way to relieve stress and relax sore muscles is getting a massage. A gift certificate for an hour-long massage is sure to brighten your favorite nurse’s day.

Another suggestion: Hire someone with a mobile chair to give massages for 15-minute increments to all the nurses on a unit. If you don’t have the money, you could find a massage school with students who need to get in their clinical hours. Many are willing to give free massages for a good cause. An extra perk would be to give each nurse a little bottle of lavender oil, an essential oil known to have calming and stress-relieving properties.

Follow the Theme

Every year, the American Nurses Association chooses a “theme” to accompany National Nurses Week to highlight a particular aspect of nursing. The 2018 theme is: “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.” You could buy the official swag, such as totes, shirts, mugs and plants that all have this year’s theme emblazoned on the gifts. Just be sure that whatever you select fosters a sense of pride or offers value.

Quality nurses around the country deserve a special week, so don’t forget them during National Nurses Week on May 6th-12th and especially on National Nurses Day on May 6th. In fact, don’t they deserve recognition on any given day throughout the year? They make all the difference in the world.