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Vital and invaluable

By: Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN President, American Nurses Association

Recognizing nurses’ service during Nurses Month.

Ernest J. Grant

May marks Nurses Month, a time to offer RNs nationwide well-deserved thanks and recognition for all they do and all they’ve given during the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of Nurses Month, Nurses Make a Difference, captures in a single phrase the essence of our service.

What we do and how we do it matters greatly  in one-on-one care of patients. Nurses also make a difference on a grand scale by innovating new products and services, leading organizations, finding better ways of delivering care, improving outcomes and disparities, and making positive and productive changes in our society, healthcare systems, and public policies.

The four weekly themes of Nurses Month—Self-care, Recognition, Professional Development, and Community Engagement—represent pillars of our work. Self-care is vital because we have to attend to our own needs to take care of others. In this spirit, I encourage all nurses to join ANA Enterprise’s wellness program, Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™, which aims to help nurses improve their health in six key areas.

The Well-Being Initiative, offered by the American Nurses Foundation, the American Nurses Association (ANA), and partners, also features free apps and resources that consider nurses’ differing needs and time constraints. During Self-care Week, and throughout our working lives, these brief interactions can bring meaningful stress relief.

On May 7, we will recognize the birthday of ANA Hall of Fame honoree Mary Mahoney, the first Black graduate nurse in the United States. May also will herald release of the report of the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing.

During Week 2—Recognition—expect to see Nurses Month proclamations in city halls and state houses across the country honoring RNs’ accomplishments and efforts to improve our healthcare system. ANA and our constituent and state nurses associations are taking this opportunity to educate state legislators, healthcare stakeholders, and the public about the indispensable role of nurses, the tremendous strain they’ve been under, and the urgent need to find real solutions to the workplace challenges they face. We welcome nurses’ participation in these efforts—personal stories leave long-lasting impressions that can effect substantive policy changes.

On May 11, Nurses Day of Remembrance, we’ll pause to recognize nurses worldwide who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and other causes. Following this somber passage, on May 12, celebrations will ring across the globe as ANA and nursing organizations worldwide mark International Nurses Day.

Our thoughts are especially with our colleagues in Ukraine. Along with the International Council of Nurses, we stand with all nurses working in conflict situations (#NursesforPeace).

On May 18, during Professional Development Week, ANA is hosting a unique telethon event highlighting nurses’ personal stories that represent various aspects of nursing. Master storyteller and award-winning filmmaker Carolyn Jones will share poignant stories of nurses featured in her documentaries. Group wellness activities during this continuing nurse education event will give us all a dose of lightness and laughter.

Inspired by this program, nurses nationwide will be empowered during Community Engagement Week, May 22-28, to share their stories with fresh and bold voices via social media, news articles, meetings with public officials, and other civic events.

A month of celebration and activism only scratches the surface of the contributions that RNs make daily in all care settings and in all types of positions, and the tremendous efforts we’ve put forward during the pandemic. Our work is vital and invaluable.

Thank you for your service and your commitment to yourselves, your patients, your community, and our profession, essential and enduring.



Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN

President, American Nurses Association

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