Be Good to Yourself During National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week kicks off tomorrow and is a great time for nurses to take a breath and think about all the reasons they have chosen the career path they are in. With all the opportunities available to nurses today, national nurses week not only honors nurses everywhere, but also helps connect nurses and shows them all the different ways they make a difference.

As a nurse, take the time this week to celebrate, either with your organization, your family, or just by doing something nice for yourself.

“Nurses don't take the time to stop and reflect about their work,” says Germielynn Melendez, DNP, MSN, RNC-OB, and a national associate professor of International Studies at Chamberlain College of Nursing. “The everyday nurse doesn't take the time to do that because they are so busy with their personal and professional lives.”

But this week is different – it's a great time to reconnect with your profession and with other nurses. Go out to lunch with colleagues or even make a point to see the new documentary, The American Nurse. If you are part of a nurses' professional organization and haven't been to a meeting in a while, check in sometime this month to catch up on the latest news. Send out Facebook posts to fellow nurses, giving them a shout out and wishing them a great week. Or post about what you are working on that's important to you.

Catch up on nurses' blogs, from the professional (like the Minority Nurse blog or Chamberlain's blog) to the personal, to give you an idea of what other nurses are doing, thinking, and working on. Allnurses.com is inviting nurses and those who love them to post a personalized message or note of appreciation beginning tomorrow, May 6. Simply go to the site, click on the “Thank a Nurse” button, and leave a note which you can then share on social media, too.

Melendez suggests nurses dig a littler deeper as well. Reflect on all the lives you have changed or touched during your years as a nurse, she says. Writing about what you feel on the job, how you interact with patients, how certain patients change you forever, and even all your joys and frustrations can help you begin a record of why your job is so critical. You don't have to write specifics, Melendez says, but just keep a record so you can look back.

Writing down notes and observations about your career is something to do just for you, so make it as basic or creative as you want.

“We don't appreciate ourselves,” says Melendez, “and sometimes we are very humble. We just do the work we do.”