Happy Nurse’s Week! Yes, that is right; nurses have an entire week of celebration (not just a day, like many other professions). And during this week, many hospitals and organizations will have activities to celebrate nurses, anywhere from ice cream socials, to award ceremonies for “nurse of the year”. In fact, recognition by leadership is a main driver of nurse retention. One can also see recognition from people outside of the hospital, such as in greeting cards sent in the mail, or postings on social media, again celebrating the role of the nurse and the impact that nurses have had.

However, despite all these accolades by others, many nurses are hesitant to “toot their own horn” showcasing how they make a difference in patient care. Nurses feel that they are “just doing their job”. Yet, every day, because of the nurse’s attention to detail, patient safety is promoted. Every day, because of the nurse’s advocacy, the patient’s wishes are respected. And every day, because of the nurse’s ability to think critically, the nurse can recognize and then escalate a concern. Without these, and many other attributes, the care of the patient would be jeopardized. Thus, many would agree that the role of the nurse is a pivotal part in patient care.

With such a vital role, why do many nurses not take credit for these crucial moments in the care of the patient? For some, these actions are viewed as “just a part of my day”. And yet without these actions, what would happen?  In an old Jimmy Stewart movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” the character George Bailey is shown what life would have been without him. In parallel to this theme, can you imagine a world without a nurse? Granted, all members of the healthcare team play an important role in patient care. But the nurse is the coordinator of care. The nurse is at the bedside 24/7 ensuring that all patient needs are met.  Thus, the nurse is paramount to the care of the patient.

So, if you are a nurse, the next time you recognize a deteriorating patient, deal with a difficult patient situation, or prevent a medication error, give yourself well-deserved credit and celebrate yourself! It is time that nurses recognized themselves rather than relying on others to recognize them.  Reminding yourself how much of a difference you make is a great way to promote your resiliency, and thus prevent burnout. Let’s all follow the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) theme for Nurse’s Week this year and recognize “4 million reasons to celebrate”.

Marianne E. Hess MSN, RN, CCRN-K, Director, GEDI