By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor
April 30, 2013 - It’s coming! National Nurses Week begins May 6 and runs through May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The theme for this year’s week-long celebration is Delivering Quality and Innovation in Patient Care, which will be recognized by nurses and health care facilities around the country.
May 6 is also the first day to nominate a fellow nurse for special recognition by NurseZone and our readers. (See details in the sidebar.)
Adam Sachs, ANA spokesperson, encourages nurses to take some time for self care during Nurses' Week.
“Nurses’ Week is one week where the public and patients and families who have come in contact with nurses can recognize the contributions that nurses make, not only to individuals, but whole communities,” offered Adam Sachs, American Nurses Association (ANA) spokesperson.
“The reason we take a week to recognize nurses is because they selflessly provide care to others in an often high-stress environment where there is little time to recognize their contributions,” he continued. “Nurses’ Week is a time to pause and reflect on the good work nurses do. We hope nurses will take the time to do something to care for themselves this week.”
“Nurses are seen as one of the most trusted professions by the public, yet few people really understand the rigorous training and education required to be a nurse,” began Kelly Hancock, MSN, RN, NE-BC, executive chief nursing officer for Cleveland Clinic's Zielony Nursing Institute “Though most nurses would be slow to sing their own praises, they are providing care that is thorough, compassionate and professional. Nurses Week is important because it gives us a chance to celebrate this dedication and to raise awareness about what is truly involved in nursing care.”
ANA and other nursing organizations have been working over the years to achieve this formal recognition for nurses, with a few major milestones:
- In January 1974, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed that May 12 (Nightingale’s birthday) would be International Nurse Day, which they had celebrated since 1965;
- In February of 1974, a week was designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issued a proclamation;
- In March 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation for National Recognition Day for Nurses, to be May 6, 1982;
- And in 1993, ANA’s board of directors designated May 6 - 12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years.
This theme for this year’s annual celebration was chosen after ANA polled both member and non-member nurses about possible choices.
“The results show that nurses see patient care as a timely issue that reflects the transformation health care is going through,” commented Sachs. “The Affordable Care Act is promoting innovations that reduce costs while improving patient outcomes.”
Hancock sees the Institute of Medicine’s 2010 report, The Future of Nursing, as a key factor in moving nursing toward delivering quality and innovation in patient care.
“The report called for nurses to be able to work at the top of their licensure and practice. This opens the door for creativity in the delivery of care. Due in part to the fact that nurses make up the largest segment of health care workers, they are poised to be change agents in the field,” Hancock explained. “Over the decades we have seen a shift from nurses taking a passive role to taking ownership of their profession and practice. They have collected data, but haven’t always spoken into interventions and innovation. With the institution of shared governance councils, we now see nurses directly influencing their practice and improving patient care.”
Kelly Hancock, MSN, RN, NE-BC, executive CNO for the Cleveland Clinic health system, is encouraged to see nurses have more influence over their practice through shared governance councils.
Hancock sees the roles of RNs expanding in the area of delivering innovative and quality patient care as the need for in-home nursing continues to grow.
“Both advance practice and registered nurses will increasingly be caring for the chronically ill and working to keep them out of the hospital and providing preventive health,” she remarked. “They will continue to provide critical health education to patients and their families.”
Sachs notes that nurses are already working on innovations to solve problems through tracking quality measurements. Through ANA’s National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI), nurses in over 2,000 hospitals are measuring the quality of nursing services which are tied to patient outcomes.
“The database, for example, allows a cardiac unit to compare its number of infections with other units in the hospital, as well as with cardiac units at other hospitals. This allows nurses to identify where there is a problem and to work within the unit to develop more effective strategies to address them and create better patient outcomes,” he explained.
Sachs advises nurses who want to innovate in the area of patient care delivery to consider continuing their education, noting that the IOM Future of Nursing report recommended that 80 percent of nurses complete their BSN and that the number of nurses holding doctorates double by 2020. He also mentioned that the American Nurses Foundation provides grants for nursing research.
Along the same lines, Hancock urges nurses to be active either in their facility or their professional organization, because it is in these forums that nurses can learn from each other and share best practices.
The Cleveland Clinic is sponsoring a wide variety of events to celebrate Nurses’ Week. They will kick off the week with a 5K diversity run on Saturday, May 4, and then host their 9th Annual Nurses Research Conference on May 5 - 6, which is open to all area nurses. Other events include a blessing of the hands, chair massages, a state of nursing address given by Hancock, as well as a number of receptions and awards ceremonies.
“Nurses’ Week is a fun time and there is a lot of energy around it. I get excited for it every year,” effused Hancock.
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