Nursing Notes

April 9, 2010

Nurse Appreciation 52 Weeks a Year

This is one of the best articles I have read in a very long time.  Nurses around the world need to read this and know that they are truly appreciated for all the things they do.

National Nurse’s Week will be here soon.  What do you really want from your organization this year?  A new mug?  A new bag? Or would you truly like to feel appreciated?


Nurses’ Week is coming next month.  Soon your facility will be scraping together some token of appreciation for your work, with little funding and minimal effort.  I have seen it over and over.  After 30 years of watching nurses in action, I can safely say that nurses give far more to their work places than they ever dream of receiving, monetarily or otherwise.

Years ago, my father taught me that there are two kinds of people in this world.  He says that there are givers and there are takers.  We nurses surely fit into the giver category.  We literally pour ourselves out for others, in caring.  How do we do this?  How do we give and give and care and care, over and over again?  What do we contribute to our community?  In my opinion, our greatest “giving” contribution to our community is our children.  You might feel this is irrelevant, but consider that most of us are parents or future parents.  We realize that loving, teaching, and preparing our next generation of productive citizens is the GREATEST gift we can give to our community.  We prepare our children for the joys and struggles that lie ahead for them.  The giving and caring starts in our homes where we make parenting a priority and tremendous sacrifices for the family.  Let us never forget the mighty work that dedicated parenting is for the community.

Beyond our homes, our attention and energy expands out to our studies and our work.  We chose to be givers in this world when we answered that calling into nursing which we hear initially.  We endure our rigorous studies and finally achieve that hard-earned goal, our nursing license.  When we enter the profession, we are enchanted and enamored by the excitement and challenges, but all too soon the disillusionment sets in.  We realize that things aren’t quite like the textbooks explain, and that maybe not every patient always gets the right amount of attention and effort devoted to them that they each deserves.

We realize that time and resources are finite, so we figure out ways to do more with less, and get more mileage out of our day.  We learn to multi-task better, to streamline our processes better.  We start to skip lunches, forget to drink and hydrate ourselves, and hardly ever make it to the bathroom.  We put ourselves aside for the sake of the patients.

Throughout our careers, we CONTINUE to show that we are givers by not only living out our higher calling, but by choosing to stay and remain in our work.  Even though we have our fair share of legitimate reasons to abandon ship, ALL of us here haven’t done that.  We have CHOSEN NOT to.  It’s our decision.  It’s our decision to stay.  It’s our decision to still care.  It’s our decision to continue to endure the sometimes harsh conditions and situations we find ourselves in.  The list of ways we show this determination and dedication to our patients is endless.

I am truly thankful to you for all your many sacrifices.  Remember the time you cried all the way home from work because of something traumatic that happened that day?  But you came back to work and punched in the next day, didn’t you?  I thank you for how you worked all the way through your pregnancies for as long as physically possible, for all the times you patiently oriented that new hire, and for taking the time to recruit that sharp tech into nursing.  I thank you for enduring those difficult moments when maybe you cried over the med cart or sustained a needle-stick.  Thanks for quietly enduring the moment when a co-worker may have disrespected you.  I thank and appreciate you for all the cross-training you’ve willingly done, all the codes you participated in, and for the time you stopped at the accident site to help the victims.

Thanks for being dedicated enough to cut back your hours to stay home “while the kids were little” and for the time you choose to find creative alternatives instead of using chemical restraints for your agitated patient.  I am grateful for when you stayed during the heavy snow and for helping with the tornado.  Thank you for attending your patient’s funeral for the sake of the family, and for following up on the woman after she lost her baby.  Please, accept my gratitude for all of the births you celebrated, all of the deaths you mourned, all of the education you have pursued, all of the times you were a strong leader, all of the times you deferred to follow, all of the times you advocated, all of the times you lobbied, all of the prayers you have said on behalf of others, and for all of the other unspoken sacrifices you make.  Be proud of yourself and accept this overdue expression of appreciation you so deserve.  And, as we look ahead to all our tomorrows, we are determined to continue to show how much we are willing to give and willing to care every time we answer the call light,  put on those surgical scrubs, cry with that family, breathe with that woman, stop that hemorrhage, or comfort that child.  Tomorrow we will show our determination to keep on caring when we teach that lesson, change that dressing, insert that tube,  present that idea in the board room, give the bad news, volunteer to fill in for a shift, feed that baby, make that phone call, travel to that disaster, or write that evaluation.  Tomorrow our caring will continue to come through every time we make that home visit, attend that funeral, give that pain med, go back to school, feed that elder, shock that chest explain that procedure or calm that family.  And so, tomorrow we will wake up and choose once again to let the giving and the caring flow through our hands.  I am so very humbled and proud to be able to say that I am a member of your amazing profession and your sacred work.  Wherever we are, whatever we do, let us always remember to give ourselves AND each other the gratitude and credit we so deserve.  Grateful nurses are happy nurses.  Grateful nurses are humble nurses.  Many thanks be to you, and thanks be to God for you.

Thank you for all your contributions!

About the Author: Christina Feist-Heilmeier, RN, MSN, author, and speaker has spent thirty years in the healthcare world, specializing in geriatric, obstetrical, and medical/surgical Nursing.  Christina is a strong advocate for nurses and is the author of Nurses Are From Heaven, which is being featured in the spring edition of the Journal of Christian Nursing, 2010.

Click here for more information on Christina Feist-Heilmeier.

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