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11 Nurses Week Celebration Ideas for Your Staff

Every May, healthcare facilities and offices around the country celebrate nurses who deliver excellent patient care. If you’re not sure how to celebrate your nursing staff this year, consider some of the Nurses Week ideas below.

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1. Provide a luncheon or breakfast to honor nurses

A great way to celebrate the entire nursing staff is to provide a catered meal in their honor. Think about what nurses might eat on a regular basis, such as food from the hospital cafeteria or nearby local eateries, so you can make the celebration special by bringing in options they can’t regularly enjoy.

Creative options can include a taco or potato bar with many fixings, a breakfast omelet and waffle bar, or Asian fusion cuisine served up buffet style.

Make sure not to leave out night shift nurses. You may need to plan to have two or more catered meals throughout the day to ensure all your nurses can take part in the celebration.

2. Create a coffee and tea bar with special service for the week

If multiple catered meals aren’t something you think you can pull off well, consider setting up a high-quality coffee or tea bar where nurses can grab a caffeinated beverage and quick snack during the day. You can set up a self-service option with plenty of goodies or work with a catering company to create a coffee-shop feel, complete with barista service.

Keep the coffee and tea service going for 24 hours or the whole week, depending on your budget for Nurses Week celebration ideas. If your facility has a cafe nurses like to frequent, you can also provide vouchers for free beverages throughout the week instead of creating your own coffee bar.

3. Collaborate with the community to celebrate nurses

Not all the ideas to celebrate Nurses Week center on food. Nurses may appreciate small gestures that demonstrate appreciation for the work they do. Consider reaching out to the community to help make Nurses Week exciting for your staff. You might ask local businesses to:

  • Put up signs and banners thanking nurses

  • Provide special discounts or deals for nursing staff during the week

  • Sponsor small celebratory events, such as a flower for each nurse one day or lobby musicians who play requests from nurses throughout another day

4. Provide spa services for break times

Set up a mini spa for nurses in the break room—or take over a conference or meeting room to make a nurses-only break room for the day or week. You can stock the room with some healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts and seltzer waters and add some relaxing decor and music.

Bring in professionals to provide chair massages, manicures and other portable spa services. Alternatively, you might close off a space and turn it into a salt cave with salt lamps, low light and soft music so nurses can get a power nap or a quiet moment in their busy day.

5. Invite nurses to join a party or evening out

Take the celebration outside of the workplace by inviting nursing staff to join in a night out or come to a special party. Larger organizations might book a venue and host a catered party with music and dancing, while smaller clinics and offices may simply take nurses out for lunch or dinner.

You can also use this Nurses Week celebration idea to encourage team bonding. Instead of hosting a party for the entire nursing staff, each nurse manager or supervisor might take their team to lunch or dinner. This makes it easier to ensure nurses across all shifts get a chance to join the celebrations.

6. Show your appreciation with nurse gifts

One of the most common ideas to celebrate Nurses Week is to give nursing staff gifts to show your appreciation. If you decide to use this Nurses Week idea, however, put thought into the gift and avoid using promotional items like branded shirts and pens. Instead, think about items that might be truly helpful to nurses or things they might enjoy but wouldn’t buy for themselves.

7. Highlight nurses throughout the week

Think about ways you can recognize nursing staff for excellence during this week of celebration. Some ideas include:

  • Sending an email out each day during the week to recognize nurses. You could choose a theme each day, such as “High-Quality Clinicians,” “Sharing & Caring” or “Trusted Teamwork” and highlight nurses who shine in those areas.

  • Hosting a nurse awards banquet. Recognize leaders and innovators on your staff with special certificates and honors.

  • Letting nurses nominate each other. Invite nurses to nominate each other for awards to encourage them to show appreciation for each other.

8. Write and encourage notes of gratitude for nurses

A thank you letter to nurses from executive leadership can be important when you’re celebrating Nurses Week, but consider taking written expressions of gratitude further. Encourage nurse supervisors and managers to write notes of thanks to nurses, and leave supplies in public areas so patients and other staff can pen words of appreciation for the nursing staff in general or a specific RN.

9. Play games for prizes

Start gathering fun prizes, including some larger items such as televisions, before Nurses Week. Then invite the nursing staff to play games throughout the week to win prizes. Some game ideas to get you started include:

  • Bingo for prizes. Give out bingo cards at the beginning of the week and “call” the numbers throughout the week via emails to the nursing staff.

  • Trivia. Send trivia questions in email or post a daily trivia question in the break room. Nurses can submit an answer to enter a prize drawing.

  • “Cake” Walk. Set up a cake walk game in the break room or near the nurses station, and host mini games throughout the day or week, giving away different prizes each time.

10. Decorate the nurses station or facility lobbies

Take time to decorate areas of the facility or office to demonstrate support and appreciation for nurses. Decorations in public areas let patients, family members and others know that it’s Nurses Week, which might prompt them to share their gratitude with nurses.

11. Create a health fair for nurses

Your nursing staff works hard everyday to keep others healthy. Consider using Nurses Week to return the favor. Set up a mini health fair where nurses can talk to various health and mental healthcare professionals about concerns.

How you celebrate Nurses Week is less important than whether you sincerely show appreciation for the nurses who work for you. If one of these Nurses Week ideas doesn’t resonate with you, simply consider how you can honor nurses in unique ways that work for your staff and business.

Nurses Week ideas FAQs

When is Nurses Week?

Nurses Week occurs on the same dates every year in the United States. The celebration starts on May 6 and ends on May 12. It doesn’t matter what days of the week those dates land on.

Why does Nurses Week always end on May 12?

Nurses Week always ends on May 12 because it’s Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale lived from 1829 to 1910 and worked to train nurses during the Crimean War. She also wrote many publications regarding topics such as nursing, wound care and the management of hospitals. She’s known as the founder of modern nursing.

What is the history of Nurses Week?

The first proposal for a national celebration of nurses was made in 1953. The next year, the country observed National Nurses Week in October—it was, in part, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s work in Crimea. Two decades passed before a week celebrating nurses was established in February, and four years after that, the governor of New Jersey called for making May 6 National Nurses Day. In 1982, Ronald Reagan made that an official declaration, and by 1990, the American Nurses Association Board of Directors expanded the celebration to a week.

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