Nursing can be difficult work. It's hard on the body, draining on emotions, and can be tiring to the soul. And still- we LOVE it!
I'd imagine you would agree- we love being a nurse, but our joy of nursing can wax and wane, depending on our current career circumstances.
Rather than allowing external influences to impact your Nurses Week- you have an opportunity. You can choose to enjoy your career and celebrate your nursing experiences thus far.
Now, before we get to some practical strategies, I do think that taking time to pause and reflect can also empower us, nurses.
I encourage you to think about the following questions
Why did you go into nursing in the first place?
What do you love about being a nurse?
How has your nursing career made you a better human being?
Spend time with these. Even journal your responses, as you approach this special time of Nurses Week.
After you've had time to marinate on the above, I've also got some innovative strategies for a fun Nurses Week, whether your organization celebrates or not.
Here are 3 ways for nurses to celebrate nursing during National Nurses Week
Treat yourself like a dog.
Yup, you read that right. In the book, Stop Nurse Burnout, I talk about the nurse superhero. We all know him/her. And let's be honest- we've all been him/her!
You know the drill. Always volunteering when help is needed. Coming to a teammate's rescue during a chaotic shift. And even saying things like "I was just doing my job" when we receive any type of recognition or compliment.
Well, this has got to stop! In fact, if you have a dog, cat, or other types of animal for a pet... you can use your interactions with them as a guide.
Picture this. You get home from work and there is your cute puppy. He's wagging his tail furiously at the door, waiting for you to come over and say "Hello".
As you approach, you start to smile and speaking in a high-pitched sing-song voice, you say: "Where's my good boy? You're such a good boy! Look how great you are today!!" You pet him, smile, and continue to whisper love notes in his ears.
Now- what about you? Have you ever talked to yourself in this way? Have you ever come home from work, patting yourself on the back, saying how good of a job you did? Or looked in the mirror, telling you that you love yourself??
I doubt it!
This type of self-recognition and praise is often difficult for us to do. We weren't taught these practices in nursing school, but they sure can come in handy. And here's what you can do to celebrate yourself and your nursing career this Nurses Week...
From this point, going forward, keep a "Great Job" journal. Every time a nurse, patient, family member, or leader praises you for a job well done come home and write it down. In fact, you can even write experiences down without the formal praise from others. Keep track of the positive work days in a journal, notebook, or even placing single papers in a cubby or box.
Then, each year during Nurses Week, take the box or notebook off of the shelf. Refer back to it and read through all of the kind words that you've noted throughout the year. Make this an annual ritual to reconnect you with the joy of the nursing job again.
Bless your team
Many nursing teams celebrate Nurses Week with a blessing of the hands. You can do this too and without bringing in a formal ordained minister or chaplain. In fact, I like to call this "Blessing of the Hands- With a Twist!"
Here's what you do. Get your nursing team together and perform the "blessing of the hands" with each other.
Gather in a circle and go around the room, passing the blessing clockwise throughout the group. Let the person to your right look at you, tell you something that they appreciate about you, and gift you with a short word, phrase, or mantra of encouragement. Then, you turn and do the same to the person on your left.
Pass the blessing down and around until everyone in the group has experienced it. This is not only an energy booster for you- but a great way to have the entire team recognize and appreciate each other this Nurses Week.
Enroll in your life curriculum
Just a few weeks ago, I interviewed a fitness nurse on the Your Next Shift podcast. When I asked the question related to professional development and reaching career goals, she shared the most amazing practice!
Think about it this way. During nursing school- what happens? You have a curriculum to follow, semester after semester until you've graduated. And then after nursing school? No more formal agenda with a professor or advisor telling you what to do.
While this is very nice- to be out, enjoying the independence of your career- it also can cause us to fall behind.
Most nurses are often lifelong learners. We want to read, study, and gain new information that will support us in our roles. Nurses become certified in specialties and attend conferences so that they can continue to develop and grow.
Why not set up a routine that supports your professional growth and personal development? This is where a "life curriculum" could come into play. And Nurses Week is a wonderful time of year to remind us to do just that!
So, going forward, each year during National Nurses Week you may reflect upon your current skills, training, and knowledge related to nursing. Then, as you realize gaps or opportunities for growth, you can set out to enroll in a course, read a new book, or get some other type of training that will support your nursing career.
Trust me. In my work with the online Art of Nursing program, I have asked nurses what they want and do not want for Nurses Week gifts. The days of trinkets or unhealthy foods are over. Nurses want to be appreciated with meaningful recognition. And often, nurses prefer to learn and gain knowledge that will support their careers!
Well, you can take ownership of that very easily. Make this time of year a habit. Look back on your growth as a nurse to where you are now. And figure out what else you'd like to learn about. Treat yourself to professional development and personal growth. Invest in yourself and set goals for your personal nursing career curriculum.
As you continue to develop as a nurse, you celebrate the profession of nursing and the patients and families that you care for!
What have you done to reflect upon and celebrate your nursing career? We'd love to hear from you! Be sure to drop us a line. Thanks for reading; and Happy Nurses Week to you!
Be sure to check out more from the first issue of allnurses Magazine.
About the Author
Through her work on burnout prevention and career resilience, Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN, supports nurses to reconnect to the joy of nursing. Additionally, Elizabeth is the creator and founder of the annual Nurses Week online program, The Art of Nursing. This will mark the fifth year that Elizabeth and nurses from across the country have celebrated professional development and personal growth during this very special time.