Nurses Week 2024: Celebrating and Inspiring Nurses

Group of happy nurses celebrating

Can you imagine a world without nurses? What would that even look like?
Given the climate and complexities of today's healthcare environment, many of us can't fathom the idea. That's why, every May, nurses across the country are celebrated during National Nurses Week (May 6-12).

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Group of happy nurses celebrating
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Nurses Week is a time to show appreciation and gratitude for nurses (and nursing students) who dedicate themselves to serving others daily and impacting the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

Why Should You Celebrate Nurses Week?

Being a nurse is not all sunshine and roses (most of us can attest to that!). Our work can be challenging and overwhelming, even as nurse educators or administrators. Sometimes, it feels like you’re just barely surviving. But when you consider your impact as a nursing educator or administrator and how your work shapes the future generation of nurses and the profession at large…now, that’s something to celebrate and get excited about!

Because if we don’t take the time to celebrate ourselves, then who will? We must remind ourselves and others, that:

  • Being a nurse takes grit.
  • Being a nurse takes resilience.
  • Being a nurse takes dedication.
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With everything that our profession has been through, especially over the past few years throughout the COVID-era (e.g., mental health issues, burnout, healthcare inequities, etc.), the statement ‘I’m a nurse’ holds much more weight compared to 5 years ago.

You might be working as an educator or administrator, but you’re a nurse first.

  • You’re credible.
  • You’re trusted.
  • You’re needed.
  • You’re valued.

Our profession is like no other.

Throughout Nurses Week, we are prompted to pause and observe our unique work despite our complexities and challenges. Celebrating Nurses Week emphasizes the critical value and importance of the profession to society and our healthcare system (Godsey et al., 2020).

When we unite as a profession and outwardly express gratitude and appreciation for our work, we raise our professional profile and purposefully strengthen our brand image. A brand that highlights specialized knowledge, commitment, leadership, influence, and impact; shapes the public’s perception of the profession; appeals to those considering nursing as a profession; and draws the attention of others (including authorities and decision-makers) to collaborate with us and invest in our profession and future (Godsey et al., 2020).

How Is Nurses Week Celebrated?

Leadership organizations in the USA and Canada, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) and Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), lead the annual Nurses Week celebrations in many ways.

The 2024 theme for Nurses Week in the USA is Nurses Make the Difference. The ANA encourages citizens across the country to illuminate the spirit of nursing excellence by snapping a picture of landmarks in honor and support of nurses. Landmark buildings such as the Wrigley Building (Chicago, IL), Capella Towers (Minneapolis, MN), and City Hall (Houston, TX) are expected to light up the sky during National Nurses Week as part of the #NursesLightUpTheSky campaign.

Nurse Week Banner for ANA
Nurses Week Banner for CNA

North of the border, Canadian nurses are celebrating Nurses Week by promoting the theme Changing Lives. Shaping Tomorrow. Nurses impact the health and well-being of others by changing lives through care, compassion,  expertise, and advocacy. This year, nurses are celebrated for continuing to be at the forefront of healthcare innovation and influencing the future of the nursing profession as educators. Celebrations are focused on spotlighting and embracing nurses across the country using the hashtags #NursesShapingTomorrow and #NursesChangingLives.

With these themes in mind, here are some ways to celebrate Nurses Week with your students and interprofessional teams:

  1. Appreciation Events: Organize or attend appreciation events, ceremonies, or special recognition events to publicly acknowledge nurses at all levels of practice and leadership.
  2. Offer Gifts: Provide gifts and other tokens of appreciation, such as personalized notes or messages, gift cards, or even monetary gifts.
  3. Social Media Campaigns: Participate and engage in social media campaigns by sharing stories, posting photos, and expressing appreciation for nurses using designated hashtags or tagging others.
  4. A kind gesture: A few words of acknowledgment or a kind gesture of appreciation can go a long way, too! You may predominantly work in the classroom or an administrative setting, but have you taken a moment to recognize that clinical instructor who’s helping your students strengthen their critical thinking skills at the bedside? Tell a nurse colleague how much they are valued and appreciated.

What Does Nurses Week Mean for Nursing Students?

For nursing students, recognizing Nurses Week is an opportunity to learn, appreciate, and find inspiration.  As students participate in events, campaigns, and ceremonies showcasing the nursing profession, they develop positive socialization messages and experiences, resulting in increased motivation and inspiration (Gan, 2021). Witnessing their clinical instructors, professors, administrators, and clinical staff come together to celebrate the profession this week can promote a sense of unity, belonging, and connection with others, and reinforce positive motivators that initially inspired students to start nursing school and work towards becoming part of a valuable, credible, and respected profession (Gan, 2021).

As you celebrate Nurses Week with students, take the time to answer student questions about why this week has been set apart every year, provide insight into the profession, and share your own stories about the transformative work that nurses (including yourself) do every day.

It’s time to celebrate!

As nursing educators and administrators, we should celebrate our influence on shaping the next generation of healthcare professionals and making a difference in the future of the nursing profession this year and every year! Don’t be a bystander. Instead, join the celebration and invite your students to do the same!

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