“When is ‘Kid’s Day’?” That’s what I asked my mother on Mother’s Day one year, after she’d finished opening her gifts from the five of us. And—like many who’ve asked before—I was told, “Every day is Kid’s Day.” This led me to realize that people who have days or weeks dedicated to them must have it pretty bad the rest of the year. Professions with prestige and power don’t have a day or a week. So how can nurses be seen as equal professionals if we have Nurses Week?
And then there’s the way it’s celebrated. Most facilities give out token gifts to the nursing staff—all of them, from aides and medical assistants up to nurse practitioners (NPs). In the past I’ve received a MetroCard holder (which I managed to hold onto for about six years), a pair of socks that said “Real Nurse,” and an off-unit ice cream party that no one had the time to attend even if they wanted to. Perhaps my favorite was the year my employer gave out those rubber toys you squeeze to relieve stress (which they ran out of because they didn’t buy enough). Another year a hospital held contests: prizes were given to the nursing staffer with the nicest fingernails, the nurse with the best penmanship, and to the sexiest staff member (I’m not making this up!). Is it surprising that physicians and hospital administrators would question nurses’ judgment after witnessing this?
Some no doubt think it’s harmless and even nice that nurses get some recognition. And I always appreciate the card my mother sends me each year. But I think most nurses would say that, like other professionals, they’d rather have respect and recognition on a daily basis—and let the money be spent on adequate staffing and supplies. (For some radical suggestions about what a real Nurses Week might involve, read this 1999 editorial by AJN’s editor-in-chief, Diana Mason.)
That said, AJN would like to give nurses something they can actually use. We will be giving open access to our May issue at AJNOnline from May 6 through May 12.—Christine Moffa, MS, RN, AJN clinical editor