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Nurse Recognition Programs Refuel and Help Build Resilience


Once again this year, nursing was voted the most trusted profession in the country. But the honor has never been talked about or featured in the media as much as it has been since the pandemic started. Every day on the news, we see nurses caring for COVID-19 patients, nurses giving life-changing vaccinations, and nurses dealing with this latest onslaught of the Delta variant. It's a recipe for burnout by anyone's standards. The media also is addressing the unfortunate exhaustion and burnout that nurses (and other caregivers) are enduring. If you haven't seen the New York Times' video Death: Through A Nurse's Eyes, watch it with a big box of tissues. Because of the incredible challenges nurses have faced in the past 18 months or so, never has the word "resilience" been so prominent in health care. Cynda Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the School of Nursing. Her work on resilience, and in particular moral resilience, is ground-breaking.

Fundamental to Rushton's work is the fact that nurses are already resilient. For instance, sometimes the demands of their work exceed their resources. But their resilience needs to be refueled or -- as we say at The DAISY Foundation -- fertilized.

Nurses need to be emotionally, psychologically, and morally refueled regularly to enable them to resist burnout and its many negative impacts such as moral distress. One way research reveals nurses can be refueled emotionally is through the expression of gratitude by their patients, families, and co-workers.

Promoting Nurse Recognition to the Public

Nurses are refueled when they know they have made a difference in the life of a patient or family member, especially when they were unaware of the difference they made. Stories of their impact and expressions of gratitude have been the foundations of nominations for The DAISY Award(R) for Extraordinary Nurses for nearly 22 years. Patients, family members, and co-workers nominate nurses by sharing stories of what a nurse has done for them -- not only the big lifesaving events, but especially the little things nurses do that contribute to a patient's healthcare experience.

The DAISY Award nomination stories about direct care nurses, nurse leaders, and nurse-led teams that have been submitted since the start of the pandemic are stunning in their emotional statements of what nurses do and the impact they have.

We at The DAISY Foundation profess that nurses can never have enough recognition, and frankly, they have never needed or deserved it more. Our program promotes a ritual of recognition throughout the year and contributes to a culture that supports nurses in a positive, healthy work environment. So this year, to supplement the gratitude being paid to nurses and facilitate more nominations and more nurse recognition from the public, we mounted a billboard campaign in numerous markets, encouraging the public to show their gratitude. Perhaps you heard about the signs that shone bright in Times Square in January, elevating the importance of gratitude to nurses. The billboard industry donated about $1 million of advertising space to the foundation for this campaign, all spearheaded by Outdoor Ad Solutions, whose executives worked with our son, Patrick, when he was in the billboard industry. Patrick died in 1999 after being diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. The care his nurses provided to him -- and to us -- is why we honor nurses through The DAISY Foundation's programs. The energy put forth by the leaders of Outdoor Ad Solutions has touched our hearts and resulted in an influx of nominations for nurses. Throughout this year, we have mounted a significant social media campaign to reach healthcare consumers and remind them that they have an easy way to express their gratitude to their nurses by nominating them through our website. Our industry partner, GetWellNetwork, built the technology to accommodate this new way of collecting nominations, and the American Nurses Foundation helped to fund it with a generous grant.

We have heard from numerous nurse leaders that they received an unusually high number of nominations for The DAISY Award over the last year -- testimony to the fact that nurses continue to provide above-and-beyond care no matter what and that patients want and need to say thank you.

Get Creative With Award Presentations

During these stressful times, organizations who partner with our foundation to honor their nurses are encouraging nominations by patients and other staff and are continuing the process of selecting honorees and presenting the award to them. Our partner organizations have been creative in dealing with COVID-19 restrictions. Some award presentations are simply a small meeting with the honoree in the CNO's office. Some are done with social distancing obvious in the photos they send us. We have participated in many Zoom events with lots of nurses onscreen, honoring a nurse for their compassionate care and highlighting a patient's expression of gratitude for making a difference. Ongoing DAISY Award presentations are helping maintain a modicum of normalcy. Nurses tell us that these ceremonies remind them why they became nurses, refueling their resilience despite their physical and emotional exhaustion during these trying times.

The pandemic has reinforced our strongly held belief that the time for meaningful nurse recognition is always. Now is the time for gratitude to be shared by patients and their families, by co-workers and by leaders. Nurses - and all healthcare workers - need and deserve to hear that their efforts are noticed and valued.

If you have experienced or witnessed DAISY-worthy care, please take a moment to nominate the nurse who provided it on The DAISY Foundation website or visit the website for more information about bringing the DAISY Award to your organization. Find out more about the DAISY Foundation's nurse recognition programs.