May is AANA's National Nurses Month, the perfect time to launch or renew your nurse recognition program. Even if you're low on budget, you can still celebrate the "Year of the Nurse" with plenty of much-deserved gratitude for your team.

To jumpstart your thinking, we've pulled together a list of best practices.

Make your plan and promote it

Just like any program, it's important to start with clearly defined goals. Like promoting engagement. Creating a positive work environment. Or boosting nurse and patient satisfaction.

In communities all over the country, individuals and businesses have been showering their local nurses with spontaneous gifts and demonstrations of appreciation. Make the most of it and promote your efforts to patients, staff and the public.

Basic elements of appreciation

  • Embed recognition in your day-to-day operations. Solicit patient feedback. Take nominations from colleagues and managers. Make recognition part of your daily huddle report.
  • Make recognition personal and specific. Go beyond thank you. Praise specific accomplishments and tell how they exemplify excellence.
  • Be timely. Give credit while the achievement is still fresh. Allow for daily and weekly recognition.
  • Be visible. Notes, banners, trophies and emails help publicize achievements, while group events will have to wait.
  • Make recognition easy for everyone. On-the-spot template cards placed around the hospital enable frontline staff, managers and patients to give nurses immediate recognition. A toolkit for managers and executives helps them praise nurses for professional achievements.

Find community partners

Partner with local businesses or benevolent clubs to sponsor coffee shop, grocery or gas gift cards. Throughout the pandemic, pizza and sandwich shops have been delivering meals to hospital staff in partnership with local organizations. Keep it going.

Piggy-back on the trend of traveling thank-you parades. Declare a parade day in the hospital parking lot and tap into the public's gratitude for the courage and compassion of its nurses.

Work with vendors on a "Thank a Nurse" program so patients and community members can order gifts to be sent — flowers, candy, beverages, mask ear savers, coffee mugs and the like.

Host a "Thank a Nurse" poster design activity for children and create a display of their works.

Take to the airwaves

Cox Media Group owns and operates local media properties around the country, which means we can offer you even more creative options.

For example, our Tampa radio market created a Hometown Heroes Program to ask listeners to nominate a deserving nurse. Each day during Nurses Week, their morning show DJs call a winning nurse to award a prize. Sound good? Connect with us today!