Joy W. Goldman RN, MS PCC: CEO SixSEED Partners
History of “Nurses and Hospital Week Celebrations”
The first effort to provide national recognition to nurses was in 1954 when Dorothy Sutherland submitted a proposal to then President Eisenhower: the proposal was rejected. It wasn’t until twenty years later, in 1974, that President Nixon signed a proclamation indicating that there would be expansion to individual State recognitions of Nurses’ Day to be an entire week. In 1996, the ANA (American Nurses Association) initiated May 6th as National RN Recognition Day.
According to the free dictionary, in 1921, the United States declared National Hospital Day to encourage trust in hospitals in the wake of the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918, and to coincide with Florence Nightingale’s birthdate: May 12th . The observance was expanded to a week in 1953 to allow hospitals to plan and implement more extensive public information programs.
I’ve worked in healthcare for the past forty- plus years and during that entire time, I’ve witnessed sentiments of appreciation for both Nurses’ Week and Hospital Week, AND sentiments of exclusion: “Why them and not us?”
Adapting To Present Day: Both/And
I was on LinkedIn recently and saw a similar posting expressing emotion around a desire to expand “National Physician’s Day” (March 30th) to other disciplines/ providers. The perspective of the person posting was resentment that attention would be paid to a broader cadre of professions and that the expansion took away the special recognition that was deserved to physicians.
What do you think? Some of you might be saying: “I agree.” That’s the “right perspective.” What is the “right” perspective in how to offer these well-deserved recognitions, particularly during a pandemic year when so many have sacrificed time, energy, and sadly, their lives, in service to their profession? Does sharing make the recognition less special because it includes others and is not exclusive?
Honoring Individuals AND Teams:
While many can and will get into an argument of “right/wrong” in solving this problem, at SixSEED Partners, we would say that this is a perfect example of complexity and interdependent tensions or polarities to leverage. This is also a wonderful variation on the theme of diversity, equity and inclusion. Is there a way to celebrate and recognize distinct disciplines while also recognizing the whole? We would say yes…. This is an interdependent tension to leverage: A both/and.
Looking at the polarity map below, you will notice the universal tension often experienced in organizations around attending to unique disciplines and individual contributions (parts)—diversity in our associates, while also trying to be equitable in our practices (considering the whole). If we effectively leverage these tensions, we stay in the upper quadrants. When we overfocus on either pole, we inevitably get the downsides of that pole.
How does this play out with Nurses’ Week and Hospital Week? We can imagine nurses saying that they don’t want to share their day with nursing support staff because it distracts from the unique profession that is nursing (Value: the upside of Individual – Fear: downside of Team). We can hear the same theme (value—fear) with physicians who want to preserve National Physicians Day for their profession alone.
On the other pole, we can see that an overfocus on diversity/ individuals to the neglect of the whole interferes with equity and inclusion. Why shouldn’t there be a “recognition week” for each unique discipline?
Leveraging the Both/And:
In our polarity map, the next steps would be to identify action steps and warning signs for each quadrant. Imagine engaging a diverse workgroup in this process: what would they say means the most to them in how we might recognize their unique contributions while also appreciating the unique contributions of others? What might the impact be if other disciplines heard from peers what they appreciate about that discipline/ profession? How might a spirit of abundance… there is enough for all, contribute to cultivating a spirit of appreciation and gratitude for all: not only for one week a year but every day of the year?
The pandemic has brought the intimate stories of the work of ALL healthcare workers to our attention. And, truth be told, while scale might be different, saving lives; witnessing and escorting death and everything in between IS The WORK of healthcare.
SixSEED Partners has had the privilege of witnessing the courageous work of healthcare leaders and their teams for the past forty-plus years. We celebrate your stamina and courage, AND we honor and hold space for your tears, trauma, grief, and fatigue. Our commitment in offering gratitude to your work is to courageously offer our work which is to provide integrated solutions to heal healthcare. Working in healthcare HAS to be healthy. We honor you every day through partnering with you to make it better. There is no other choice!
Let’s hear from you
We’d love to hear your insights in celebrating unique disciplines while also celebrating the whole of your teams that contribute to patient care and service. If this work seems like it could help you and your teams, we’d love to talk with you to explore how this approach might help your clinical leaders. Please post your responses on our LinkedIn page or send us an email here.