Get Ready to Celebrate Nurses Month 2021


Yay - a whole week to celebrate nurses in 2021

By Jennifer Larson, contributor

Nurses work so hard and contribute so much that a week isn’t long enough to celebrate them. So now we celebrate nurses throughout the month of May. 

“I believe that having a month dedicated to recognizing our contributions is a great idea both for individual nurses and for the profession,” said Tony Anno, APRN, ACNP-BC, DNP, CCDS, CEPS, RDCS, FHRS, a faculty member for Walden University’s Master of Science in Nursing Adult Gerontology-Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. 

“Having a month dedicated to celebrating nurses can serve as a morale booster, especially after the challenging past year our profession has endured,” he continued.

National Nurses Week—which was traditionally celebrated from May 6-12—was expanded to a full month for the first time in 2020. And the American Nurses Association (ANA) has again chosen the theme “Nurses Make a Difference” for Nurses Month 2021.

Nurses Month: Four weeks to recognize and celebrate nurses in May

Each week of Nurses Month will have its own special focus, starting with self-care and going on to encompass recognition, professional development and community engagement. Check out each week to learn how you can fully enjoy this special month. 

Week #1 – Self-care: May 1-9

Self-care is vital when it comes to preserving a nurse’s mental and physical health. Pledge to find something—or perhaps several somethings—that can help you reduce your stress levels and keep you healthier. Paying attention to your own health also enables you to keep doing the vital work that you do.

And it doesn’t need to be the same thing for you than it might be for a friend or colleague. Self-care is whatever it needs to mean for you, as long as it helps you improve your health and well-being. 

“We often think of self-care as doing something,” noted Heather Brittain, RN, MSN-PHN, an IAWP holistic wellness coach. “But the shift is that true self-care is really about lessening up the spaces that feel suffocating, rather than adding more to them. Sometimes the very best act of self-care is in just simply being, rather than doing anything at all.” 

Week #2 – Recognition: May 10-16

Many hospitals and healthcare organizations will take advantage of this time to recognize the nurse heroes who’ve been working so hard, especially since the pandemic started. They’ll cheer for the nurses who have won DAISY Awards or received praise from patients and their families for their excellent care. 

If you’re in a position of leadership, you might consider ways to recognize your nursing staff for their contributions. And if you’re not, you can still find ways to let your fellow nurses know how much you appreciate them. A kind word and a heartfelt “thank you” can go a long way. 

ANA has also created a Nurses Month Toolkit with graphics, ideas and resources that you and your organization can put to use.

You can also read up and learn more about nurse pioneers and nurse innovators who have advanced the profession over the years. Check out all the inductees into the ANA Hall of Fame–or even nominate someone.

Week #3 – Professional development: May 17-23

There are nearly countless ways for you to boost your nursing career with professional development. And the pandemic does not have to slow you down.

“Lifelong learning cannot stop, even in these unprecedented times,” said Jennifer Stone, DNP, MBA, APRN, FNP-BC, practicum coordinator for Walden University’s Masters of Science in Nursing nurse practitioner programs. “These days, the most effective ways for nurses to achieve lifelong learning is through online webinars, virtual conferences, online degree programs, and reading journal and evidence-based literature.”

Natalie Baker, DNP, GNP-BC, ANP-BC, CNE, FAANP, GS-C, suggests subscribing to nursing journals and seeking out a mentor. 

Baker, who is the president-elect of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA), also recommends joining a professional organization that aligns with your professional interests. For example, her own association offers opportunities for advanced practice nurses who are interested in caring for older adults. 

“The networking and access to resources at member prices is invaluable,” she added. 

Week #4 – Community engagement: May 24-31

Looking for a way to give back to your community? You have lots of role models in your profession. 

When he was a doctoral student, Anno got involved with a community health center that provided specialized care to people who didn’t have access to traditional care. 

“The relationships I have built over the last decade with these individuals are greatly rewarding and priceless,” he said. “We have become almost like extended family as we have shared many life experiences together.”  

When her state’s nursing association put out a call for volunteers to give COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year in North Carolina, clinical nurse specialist Kristi L. Reguin-Hartman, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, answered the call with great enthusiasm. She understood that the public trusts nurses, and she wanted them to feel confident that they were getting good information about their health.  

She was joined by many other registered nurses and advanced practice nurses and even some nursing students. 

“I never know what to say when they say thank you, though,” said Reguin-Hartman, who is a board member of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). “I have to steal the line from Chick-Fil-A and tell them ‘It’s my pleasure,’ because it really is.” 

Her advice to nurses looking for meaningful ways to get involved in their communities: be open to the possibilities. Network with friends and colleagues. Contact your state or specialty nursing organization or local schools. Look for something that makes you want to say “yes.” 

“I would recommend nurses consider opportunities that feel a bit bigger than they think they can complete,” Reguin-Hartman said. “Sometimes we underestimate ourselves.” 


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