Memo From A Nurse : Why Is Nurses Week So Weak?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

May 6-12 is when nurses are nationally recognized for their efforts during Nurses Week. It’s a celebration of all things nursing. During that week, you have National Nurses Day, Student Nurses Day, and School Nurses Day to recognize the individual efforts of these “types” of nurses. The week ends on May 12, the birthday of the founder and mother of the nursing profession, Florence Nightingale.

Everybody with me?

Until recently, I’ve always enjoyed Nurses Week. I usually got a cool trinket or gift from my employer, and my fellow nurses would joke about the one time of the year we nurses actually are noticed.

These days, it seems the only time of the year we DO get recognized is now being watered-down (and maybe even flushed away) next to another nationally recognized week–National Hospital Week. The only difference I see from year to year is that the actual dates for Hospital Week can differ slightly, while Nurses Week always starts and ends on the same dates!

I guess maybe that’s my problem. Why must another week-long national celebration trample on the toes of our celebration? (I kept getting circling results, so I gave up searching for some relevant history on National Hospital Week and the coinciding date.) Obviously, the celebration dates for National Nurses Week bear significance with one of its founding mothers.

In my opinion, nurses are getting shortchanged simply because most nurses work in hospitals, so it’s more convenient and cost-effective to celebrate both weeks jointly than to have two separate celebrations (it’s always about the money, you know).

Also, the health care personnel who are being recognized are equally shortchanged, because now they share their “week” with a much larger group of fellow health care professionals (nurses).

It’s become so common and convenient to lump them together that I found numerous articles that meshed this celebration into one singular event (I refrained from naming names here).

Deep breath.

Maybe I’m being selfish. Maybe I’m being obtuse. But the last time I checked, we nurses rarely, if ever, ask for recognition. And the one and only time the nation recognizes our sacrifices they decide to divvy up the recognition with another holiday?

What am I missing here?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.
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23 COMMENTS

  1. My employer is/was unaware last week was Nurses’ Day/Week. My supervisor didn’t advertise it either, being afraid to rock the boat. That’s sad!

  2. I am sooo happy to see this article, I have felt this way for years, not because I am looking for a “trinket.”
    It means more than that, it is important to educate the public about our PROFESSION.
    I have been a Nurse, since 1980, I have seen our profession grow, we have more autonomy and a world of knowledge.
    When talking with my patients they have no idea, what the requirements are to become a nurse.
    I have made it one of my missions to share that information, to show how proud I am of this, THE NURSING PROFESSION.
    I started out as an LPN, became an RN with an Associate’s degree, moved on to my Bachelors, continued on for my MSN-FNP and am now enrolled in a DNP program.
    Between my work and educational experience, I believe I have earned the right to speak in behave of this fantastic profession, we have to be advocates for ourselves, since that’s one of our responsibilities to deliver excellent patient care.
    4 Million Reasons to CELEBRATE 🎉
    THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE!

  3. there is no nurses week anymore it is shared with everyone else like hospital week so sad we do not get recognized for all the hard work

  4. I agree also but I am a School Nurse in LOS ANGELES California and we are completing with teacher Appreciation. School Nurses in California are all RN’s with LVN’s as support for Diabetic’s Insulin administration and a few doing protocols. We are the entry to the health care system and for some children the only health care they receive.

  5. Our week is also shared with Teacher Appreciation Week. Where as a parent we are asked to have our kids do a different appreciation of their teacher everyday.
    In our facility we are sharing our nurses week with the EMT’s and MA’s because we all have similar jobs. It’s a little disappointing because I have a higher education and have the school loans to prove it.

  6. I was thinking the same thing. Not only is it hospital week it is also Teacher’s Week. Where i work they spent a lot of time thanking teachers which is deserved and put that on their home page. While the college supports the nursing program, you would have thought we would get a little ‘oo rah’ also.

    • I have never heard of hospital Week.
      If you think about it hospital Week belongs to nurses too, because a hospital CANNOT effectively run without Nurses. The only areas that can be opened are the departments that don’t require a nurse.
      So far as Teachers Week, I am Pro Teachers. Without Teachers there would not be any profession.
      Teachers week should be every week!!!
      HAPPY TEACHERS WEEK TO ALL TEACHERS!!!

  7. I agree that nurses are not recognized. Again I don’t care about the trinket or free lunch but nationally it is also teacher appreciation week and not to take anything away from the teachers but all the news stations are robustly discussing teachers but I haven’t once heard anything mentioned about nurses.

    • Hello my Beautiful Nurse Family!
      HAPPY NURSES WEEK!!
      We as nurses can be powerful and strong if we come together!
      We are 3 MILLION DEEP!
      We know who we are and how valuable we are. Let’s tell each other that repeatedly!
      We don’t need any one else to tell us that! We can celebrate being a nurse all day, EVERYDAY!!
      I tell my staff how awesome and amazing they are everyday that I work with them. I tell them how proud I am of them often. I show my appreciation through celebration of their birthdays and any achievement they may have.
      My staff is told, they are the best and deserve the best,all of the time. And we make sure that our weakest link is brought up to par with the rest of the staff!!
      Yes, my staff seems arrogant, so what!
      I prepare my staff for success so that they can gain more knowledge and secure positions that they may want. I encourage them to advance themselves so that they can be more secure and confident.
      They know that they are well loved and well prepared.
      The other seasoned nurses and myself celebrate one another and we especially, celebrate our new graduates. So every day that we come to work we celebrate ourselves as being nurses.
      We don’t wait for once a year for one week!!
      Peace!!!
      Taz

  8. I do not know the age of the author, but I am a baby boomer. I have been a nurse for 34 years and I think that Nurses should receive recognition for our hard work and dedication to our profession. I do not expect a gift or a “free lunch”, but a thank you that is genuinely expressed sure goes a long way! We go to work when we are sick ourselves. And, the pace and expectations are evermore demanding. Similarly, I always make a point to thank our Military for their sacrifice and dedication. I do not think they expect me to give them a trinket, but a heartfelt thank you means a great deal.

  9. On a POSITIVE note, our VA Medical Center in Cincinnati has been ALL ABOUT NURSES WEEK! We have something special planned everyday this week, we have a celebration all week long and there has not been anything about Hospital Week at our local or national level. The Nurses here at the Cincinnati VA are honored, praised and supported all week long. Our Advanced Practice nurses also had HUGE support from our administration, both Nursing and Leadership/Executive Chairs, last week for our Annual Nursing Conference. I think we have a strong nursing force here and we are definitely feeling the love!

  10. As I read this article , the first thing I wondered was how old the author was.
    Millennials of course feel that they need to be recognized across the board no matter what and generation X’ers are very cynical so I guess it could be either one…the verbiage is not that of a baby boomer, so that was just as perplexing.
    Anyway, I’ve been in nursing for 20 years and I have two points:
    1. “Most” nurses no longer are in hospitals ( 5 years ago that number was 57% , and it’s undoubtedly less now). We are everywhere! -serving our communities, doing research, serving payor services, and many of us have a nice consulting business on the side.
    2. It’s always nice to get recognized , but to get your feelings hurr when we don’t get an accolade? Hmm. We are professionals and an essential part of the healthcare delivery system and collaborative. A trinket or a gift card is it a nice gesture but certainly not something I personally need in order to feel esteemed as a clinician- I get that every day from looking in the mirror and knowing how I am constantly improving my knowledge base , my professional integrity level, and always pursuing quality while utilizating transformational leadership.

  11. I agree that nurses are almost never given enough credit or compensation. Just more paperwork more benchmarks more threats of some form of disciplinary action if all the papers are not done.
    There are not enough hours in a shift, and nobody cares if a patient has a bad outcome and it affects the nurse emotionally. Just call housekeeping get the room cleaned and get ready for the next admit. After more than 30 years, I am tired disappointed and disillusioned

  12. Nurses deserve the week of recognition ALONE! We have worked hard for our training and credentials, and no matter what area of nursing you have chosen, should continue to be celebrated as Nurses Week!
    Congratulations to all of the many nurses that I worked with over the past 44 years, for a job well done for caring for the sick, injured, & scared patients that we care for 24/7! Nurses are the Heart ♥️

  13. I have to agree. I don’t understand why they have to be the same week either. Actually I don’t understand why teacher appreciation week is the same week too. Oh and Mother’s Day. There are 52 weeks in a year. Why do the 3 things that are traditionally women’s work have to all be in one week? Are the other 51 weeks too crowded?

  14. You are truly right that nurses don’t get the recognition we deserve during Nurses Week. I have been in Nursing for 44 years and over the last 30 yeRs we have gotten less. The trinkets are bought in bulk and given to everyone who works for the employer. Nurse Week does seem to always correlate with Hospital Week and even better yet Mothers Day. I suggext to nurzing emploers to find someth8that is especially made for Nurses and gi e it to them (I have seen some pretty nice ideas in the uniform catalogs and stores). We are the ones who keep our employers in business after all.

  15. Completely agree!!! When reading this article I was thinking the same thing. Hospital week has stolen our thunder ?

  16. It’s funny I saw this article because I was thinking the same thing! I appreciate the extra meals or trinkets but don’t feel special or recognized as a nurse because it seems everyone is a nurse on nurse’s week. Those that also receive the meals or trinkets deemed for nurses are from registration, environmental, security, maintenance, techs, and the list goes on. So let’s just call it hospital week because that’s what it really is.

  17. At the nursing home I work at they celebrate nursing home week as it is the same as nurses week. The residents and staff have a different theme each day to wear outfits and eat a food item. The nurses get overlooked. Later in the year the stna’s have their very own day.

  18. I believe that as nurse’s we need to band together. We have a Nurse’s Day (which also is my birthday) and I think our employers should recognize the hard work and dedication we have for our profession. I feel no embarrassment in wanting to be recognized for my passion. I have been a nurse for over 33 years and deserve to be given a high five.

  19. Anyone who tells you that doctors run hospitals has never been in one. Yes, physicians bring patients, thus making the economic side of the hospital work, but nine times out of ten a nurse knows the patient is in trouble first, and must decide what steps to take next. I believe that nurses should have a day of “their” own to celebrate, as should physicians and all members of the healthcare team.

    At the same time, the idea that nurses only work in hospitals is sadly outdated. We work in telemedicine, home health care, hospice (those folks are saints). We also work as pharmaceutical reps, research assistants, teachers, and I’ve even used my nursing skills to help assemble a database of hospital equipment. And there are countless other situations where nurses use their time and their talents.

    I agree with Shirley’s comment. Until we see ourselves as members of ONE profession, regardless of where we work or how many people we supervise, the situation as it is has no impetus for change. So it won’t.

  20. As a nurse, this trivial need for a trinket and recognition embarrasses me. I wholeheartedly agree that nurses are remarkable, hardworking, and important. I’ve worked the floors, worked night shifts, early shifts, double shifts…but until we can view ourselves as the professionals we are, then we will continue to be regarded as slightly less than. I haven’t witnessed the need for a celebration week in the world of high level executives or administrators of hospitals or other business settings. Let’s stop this old-fashioned whining. Join 2017 and accept your free lunch with grace and dignity.

  21. I feel the same. Nurses are not celebrated separately. We are a part of the Hospital yes, but where is the celebration of the dedicated nurses who worked hard to obtain their credentials? Nurses and Nursing Assistants are THE most important member s of the team. How does the patient get the life saving medication? How is that medication working for the patient? Are they having side effects? Will they have the knowledge to take the appropriate medications when they go home? These are just a few examples of why Nurses are important enough to be celebrated separately. I used to hear from non-nursing coworkers ” Happy Nurses Week” and thank you for what you do. Now everybody in the Hospital gets in line for a free lunch one day, free cake another day and in line at the Gift Store for the sale going on.

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