How do nurse commendations inspire others to join the profession?

Across the US healthcare system, reward programs are used as a way of retaining experienced members of staff and recruiting new nurses. Whether they take the form of a simple certificate, a mention at the start of the day or a financial reward, recognition programs have a huge impact on employees. They serve to motivate staff and encourage a positive approach to work. In turn, an enthusiastic workforce will help healthcare facilities meet their ambitious targets. Furthermore, public incentive programs tend to attract the attention of people who are considering nursing as a career. If they’ve done their research, potential students know nursing will be demanding, regardless of the level of practice they attain. However, seeing that their efforts will be rewarded could encourage them to apply for admission regardless.

Making healthcare a more attractive profession

Hospitals, clinics and other medical settings with an established reward program differentiate themselves from other facilities and give the best candidates a reason to work for them. In the current climate, nurses are in short supply, which results in a job market driven by applicants. To increase the number of student nurses that could fill these roles, a worthwhile program of rewards is crucial. It should not just recognize productivity but promote employee well-being and happiness so that future nurses know their efforts will be appreciated. Rewards don’t just make people feel valued, they also nurture a sense of commitment to the role.

How are nurses recognized for their service?

According to a 2022 study carried out by Gallup, employers in every sector “can see the value in giving recognition for a job well done: Positive reinforcement to encourage more great work.” Most healthcare facilities employ a wide range of staff, from those in the admin team to physicians and nurses. Constructing a reward program that suits each department is a challenge, but with a little thought, it’s certainly possible to find a flexible program that everyone appreciates. Recognition can take many forms, some of which are public and place nurses in the limelight and some of which are offered in a more private context. Here’s a look at some of the ways nurses are commended for their work. 

National Nurses Day

On May 6th each year, National Nurses Day marks the beginning of a week of celebrations. Ending on May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, it also includes National Student Nurses Day on May 8th. As well as raising awareness of the work carried out by nurses, the week is a time for clinics and hospitals to celebrate and reward their teams. They might do this by chatting with local media about the work of nurses, giving out free meals for the day or handing out gift bags. People who feel inspired by National Nurses Day can take a look at the online programs offered by Baylor University. Their distance courses can be taken on a full or part-time basis and various types of financial aid are available to support new students.

National Awards

A biennial program of National Awards is managed by the American Nurses Association. With a history dating back to the 1900s, the program is designed to improve health care, encourage high standards in nursing and support each nurse’s professional development. The awards include commendations for new members of the profession, as well as nurses who have shown exceptional patient care and those who have excelled in public health provision.

Mentions in the staff newsletter 

Commendations in a staff newsletter ensure an employee’s hard work is publicized throughout the entire organization. In larger hospitals, newsletters bring all the diverse departments together, creating a sense of unity among staff. Giving nurses recognition in this way makes them feel appreciated but can also foster a great working culture and heighten employee engagement.

Formal dinners

Gala nights with great entertainment and formal dinners give hardworking nurses an extravagant break from work. Held across the US by many different healthcare foundations, they award innovation, achievement and long service. These events give nurses a chance to let their hair down, but also draw attention to their work and boost public recognition for the profession as a whole.

A presentation plaque

People who work in the healthcare and medical industry deserve more than the occasional ‘thank you’. In order to express their gratitude in a more heartfelt way, many healthcare providers commend their nurses with a plaque. When someone has gone beyond what is expected, making them feel valued with their name and achievement on a plaque is a permanent acknowledgment.

Commendations on the department’s wall of honor

To showcase the hard work of individual nurses, some facilities add a photo or a mention on the ward’s wall of honor. By featuring a different person each week and noting what they have done well, the team is encouraged to take pride in their work and celebrate each other’s achievements. Allowing patients to view these honorable mentions can renew their respect for healthcare workers and foster more positive interactions on the ward.

Gift cards

Whether they are given discreetly or as part of the morning nurse huddle, gift cards are a popular way of rewarding nurses. With a gift card, the recipient can choose to put their money towards a larger item or treat themselves to something smaller when they leave work. At the end of a hectic day, a box of chocolates, new pajamas or a luxury candle can lift a person’s spirits. In effect, gift cards allow a nurse to choose his or her own reward, rather than being presented with one.

Make commendations meaningful

Recognition programs and employee rewards are a great way of attracting talented people into the profession. To nurture a positive environment, they don’t just reward results but focus more on behaviors. Moreover, they include peer-to-peer recognition, as well as praise from managers. This encourages nurses to appreciate each other and strengthens the bonds between them. Rewards can be formal or informal but tailoring them to suit individual nurses is particularly effective.