nurse appreciationWe all have secrets, don’t we? There are some secrets we keep to ourselves and others we share with our BFF’s.Then again, some of our secrets are not so well kept and the whole world gains knowledge of them.


There are funny secrets, inflammatory secrets and self-serving secrets. Some are unmentionably horrid while others are so inane they fall into a category of “why would anyone want to keep this a secret anyway?” My secret is somewhere in the middle of admitting the truth and wanting to share it with the world so everyone can enjoy it - all for nurse appreciation.


The hospital unit I was assigned to was experiencing low morale mainly because it was winter, it was unusually cold and several of our best nurses were leaving.We were also struggling with the frustrations of poor staffing.As nurses who loved what we did, it was weighing heavily upon our shoulders. 

I knew something had to change.I knew we needed a boost of some kind.  And while I had no control over the weather, resignations or the staffing situation, I felt some responsibility toinject positive energy into our work environment.


As a staff nurse and evening charge nurse, I nurse appreciationdecided a party would not suffice.A “girls night out” would leave several nurses out of the fun. (Obviously, someone had to mind the store).A gift was out of the question.There was not enough money in our funds to give anyone thegift they surely deserved.So I stepped out of the box, so to speak.I determined that as the very best nurses I had ever worked with, my co-workers deserved an award.We all did.


I called a meeting and began with, “Who can keep a secret”? Nurses’ ears perked up. They listened intently as I laid out a plan; a plan so deliciously devious they could barely take it in.Some shook their heads in horrified disbelief. Others laughed. In the end, everyone was on board.After several minutes, and with numerous ideas upon the table, we accomplished the task at hand. We were to be granted “The Distinction of Honor Award.”


Donations were collected and a financial assessment was made.We decided to have the name of our unit and the date inscribed on a beautifully finished plaque.This secret bonded us and made us all part of a united front.Our spirits lifted. Our sense of humor returned.


We nervously held our breaths waiting for the package to arrive. (We had it mailed from the engraver so no one in particular would be suspect… namely me).When the day of reckoning finally arrived, we were thrilled.We had never been more proud nor had we ever felt more mischievous!We placed our “Distinction of Honor Award” in a public area so others could enjoy it as well.We wanted to share our notoriety, our fame and our excellence with everyone. No one could call us selfish!


Patients and visitors would often stop and admire the award.Nurses from other units were confused and dismayed by the award.They wondered why they had not been selected and why they had never known of its existence.When they questioned us (if they dared), we would simply shrug our shoulders and say “It came in the mail.” After all, it was our secret.The important thing was that we deserved it, even if we did award it to ourselves! Sometimes secrets are a good thing.


How is the morale on your nursing unit? What have you and your coworkers done to create a positive environment and ensure nurse appreciation all year round?