May 1, 2018

The Importance of Celebrating and Recognizing Nurses

During Nurses Week and beyond, recognition is key


By Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC


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As National Nurses Week 2018 approaches, Cleveland Clinic’s 23,000+ nursing caregivers are gearing up to join their colleagues nationwide in joyful celebration of the professional practice of nursing. During this momentous week, healthcare organizations around the country will be honoring their nurses through various events and activities.

In this Q&A, K. Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC, Executive Chief Nursing Officer for Cleveland Clinic health system, and Chief Nursing Officer at Cleveland Clinic main campus, expresses why it’s so important for nurse leaders to celebrate and recognize their nurses during National Nurses Week – and beyond.

Q: How does National Nurses Week encourage nurse recognition?

A: The nursing profession has a long and important legacy in our nation’s history. From the moment a patient walks into a healthcare facility to the moment they leave, nurses are on call, tending to every need, comforting and healing to the best of their abilities and delivering compassionate care. However, for all nurses do each and every day, they don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

National Nurses Week, which begins on May 6 and ends on May 12, the birthday of nursing founder Florence Nightingale, is an exciting platform for healthcare leaders to show their nursing teams how much they are valued. It is an entire week dedicated solely to the professional nurse – honoring them for the work they do, while also educating the public about the very important role nurses have in healthcare. Many hospitals and healthcare organizations hold celebrations and honorary receptions or banquets, state and city proclamations, fun activities and events. It’s the perfect opportunity for leaders to express their thanks and appreciation for their nurses and nursing staff members.


Q: What are some ways leaders can celebrate nurses during National Nurses Week?

A: The American Nurses’ Association (ANA) offers numerous suggestions and ideas for nurse celebration. At Cleveland Clinic, we aim to add a variety of new activities and exciting events to our Nurses Week agenda each year. Some of our past activities have included:

  • Offering nurses the opportunity to throw the first pitch at a Cleveland Indians baseball game
  • Hosting ‘Nurses Night Out’ events and nursing award recognition ceremonies
  • Partnering with a company and distributing restaurant gift cards to our nurses
  • Promoting our ‘generations of nurses’ recognition program and ‘thank a nurse’ program where patients, caregivers, friends, community members and family members can order flowers, balloons, e-cards and other gifts, and have them sent to Cleveland Clinic nurses
  • Hosting a contest where Cleveland Clinic nurses come up with a Nurses Week design idea and caregivers vote; the winning design is then made into a T-shirt that is sold with proceeds going to a nurse scholarship fund

Q: Beyond Nurses Week, why is it important for healthcare/nurse leaders to continually celebrate their nurses?

A: Recognizing nursing caregivers for the work they do and the contributions they make is vital. From delivering high-quality patient care to positively impacting society, nurses are imperative to the success of their organizations, profession and healthcare in general. For leaders, ongoing recognition and celebration not only effectively showcases deep appreciation, it can also positively impact employee morale and improve engagement.

Studies have shown that meaningful recognition has the ability to renew a nurse’s commitment to their profession, bestow added pride in their work, and deepen their loyalty to both nursing team and healthcare organization. It also fosters an environment of positivity and team building. At Cleveland Clinic, meaningful recognition is part of our culture. For decades, we’ve been working hard to continually honor and recognize our nurses. Among other initiatives, our Nursing Excellence Awards program, which encompasses both local hospital and enterprise-wide awards, honors more than 100 nurses annually. We also participate in the prestigious Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses at all Cleveland Clinic health system hospitals.


Kelly Hancock is the Executive Chief Nursing Officer of the Cleveland Clinic Health System, and Chief Nursing Officer of Cleveland Clinic Main Campus.

Follow Kelly on Twitter at @kkellyhancock.

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