Ernest Grant, Ph.D., RN, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association
Honoring our nurse heroes has a much more profound significance than the American Nurses Association (ANA) anticipated when we extended the traditional National Nurses Week to a month of recognition in May. As I write this article, the global COVID-19 pandemic is gripping our nation and quickly shifting focus from the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. What our nation is facing now magnifies the critical importance of nurses, the challenging conditions they face, and the need to advocate for increased investment in the nursing profession.
This unprecedented health crisis reinforces nurses’ unwavering commitment to patients and our communities. Working with courage and compassion and under extremely challenging circumstances, nurses are on the frontline of treating and preventing the spread of the coronavirus. We are grateful to all the nurses who are making a difference in fighting this pandemic.
Whether during a national health emergency or routine daily care, nurses’ vital contributions impact the health and well-being of our communities, which is why ANA selected the theme for May as “Nurses Make a Difference Month.” Our aim is to promote the value of nurses, raise the visibility of the profession, and spur greater investment in the development and increased capacity of the nursing workforce.
Each week in May will have a different focus, giving us the opportunity to honor the profession, recognize nurses’ contributions, and promote self-care and professional development. This also offers more time to engage with our communities, educate them about what we do, and encourage the next generation to choose nursing as a career.
Self-Care Week (May 1-9)
Now more than ever, nurses should focus on their and others’ emotional and physical well-being by encouraging and challenging themselves, colleagues, family, and friends to engage in healthier activities. We also remind nurses to recognize the symptoms of stress and mental fatigue so they can help themselves and others.
Recognition Week (May 10-16)
While nurses deserve 24/7 recognition for their enduring commitment to care for others, this week is an opportunity to give them focused and meaningful recognition. We encourage hospitals, health organizations, communities, patients, and families to promote the critical work nurses do by honoring nurses who make a difference every day.
Professional Development Week (May 17-23)
During this week, we encourage nurses to focus on ways to enrich their nursing career and leadership skills. Nurses also can educate, inspire, and help others by sharing their nursing stories.
Community Engagement Week (May 24-31)
ANA wants nurses, community organizations, schools, and the media to engage in activities to promote greater awareness and understanding about the profession through health awareness campaigns, interviews, and career workshops. We hope these activities help to inspire the next generation of nurses.
As the largest group of healthcare professionals, nurses make an incredible difference in the quality of care by helping change lives, educating communities, advocating for patients’ rights, and offering emotional support. Nurses excel, lead, and innovate in our communities, clinics, hospitals, and healthcare systems, giving them an unmatched perspective on prevention, wellness, and delivery of healthcare services.
Without nurses there is no health, so this month, join ANA as we show our heartful appreciation for nurses across the country who make a difference in keeping our families and communities healthy. You can start by sharing your thanks and support for nurses with a $10 donation to the American Nurses Foundation’s Coronavirus Response Fund for Nurses. Simply text THANKS to 20222.