Nurses have always been a symbol of nurturing care and healing in the healthcare environment. They spend more time with the patient than any other member of the care team, and they are the hub of the care coordination process. Over the last year, however, the image of the nurse as an angel of healing has shifted to that of the healthcare hero, a warrior fighting for every life.

From Nurse to Hero

As the anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States came and went, we as a nation reflected on how far we’ve come in that time. From the very start, clinicians everywhere had to focus on providing high-quality care to patients with an illness we knew very little about. Information changed from minute to minute as we learned more about transmission and symptoms, and best practices around treatment continue to evolve to this day. 

Nurses maintained quality of care even as healthcare organizations faced shortages of critical supplies, including hand sanitizer, face masks and shields, ventilators and more. In addition to advocating for their patients, they often stood in for family and friends while patients quarantined on dedicated COVID units and floors. And, when the day was done, they returned to hotel rooms to protect their own loved ones.

For over a year, nurses have faced these challenges to be the first line of defense against the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve experienced more than a year of rationing personal protective equipment; balancing unit changes to accommodate influxes of infectious patients; and using every tool in their arsenal to provide the same high quality of care that patients would receive under normal circumstances. 

After a year of flexibility and fortitude in the face of the unprecedented, our nation’s nurses continue to take up the mantle to support and care for their charges. This National Nurses Week, it is our duty to uplift, support and thank our healthcare heroes for the countless sacrifices they have made to protect us. We’ve compiled some ideas for how your organization can give back to nurses this week.

1. Broadcast the Victories

Clinicians have seen firsthand the toll the pandemic has taken—what better way to uplift nurses and other clinicians than to celebrate triumphs? Leverage your organization’s one-to-many messaging feature to broadcast discharge celebrations. This allows clinicians to take a short break, gather together and bear witness to a patient going home after beating COVID-19. Some healthcare organizations record these celebrations to share with others online, with the hope that the community will rally in support of the healthcare workers who made this patient’s discharge possible. 

Being a nurse is sometimes a thankless job—especially during a pandemic when nurses and other clinicians have been completely overwhelmed by patients and stretched thin by dwindling supplies and a nursing shortage. Taking this time to revel in a moment of triumph can help to uplift nurses who have been working tirelessly to save their patients.

2. Provide Mental Health Resources

This year has challenged nurses physically, emotionally and mentally, with long hours, limited social contact and significant patient loads. Consider using the linking function on your collaborative platform to provide some mental health resources to your nurses—these can come in the form of meditation exercises, hotline phone numbers, wellness applications or even contact information for your organization’s behavioral health professionals. 

Giving your nurses the opportunity to safely process their experiences can reduce stress and can ultimately mitigate clinician burnout and fatigue. 

3. Send Personal Thanks

Ultimately, the message you should be communicating to your nursing staff this National Nurses Week is this: Thank you for working so hard to help your patients. Whatever way you choose to celebrate your nurses, make sure your message of gratitude is clear. Use unit-specific broadcasts or even leverage group chats on your collaboration platform to send a personal message of thanks. Sometimes, just this simple acknowledgment of work not going unnoticed can make a strong impact.

With vaccine rollout well underway across our country, many healthcare organizations can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the coronavirus pandemic. Eventually, operations will be back to normal, and nurses can resume their normal duties. When that day comes, we will still remember them as the healthcare heroes who fought the pandemic at the front lines.