Compassion And Recognition to The Nurses Who Care For Us All

by Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

image of a female nurse in full surgical gear sitting cross legged on the floor leaning against the wallNursing is one of those professions that we, the general public, think we know. Sure, many of us are “squeamish,” so we could never do the job, however, because we or a loved one has received care from a nurse, we think it’s given us a window into their worlds.

Well, observing a nurse is not the same as walking a mile in their well-worn shoes.

When I worked in hospitals, sometimes for special weeks – National Nursing Week, Respiratory Therapy Week, Social Work Week – we’d ask the providers, “What are three things you wished your patients and the public knew about your work?” The answers were fascinating! When we made these facts public, there was an immediate surge in specific words of acknowledgement by the public, patients, families and other providers for those very aspects.

Sometimes we need a little help with what to look for that deserves some appreciation.

So, we thought we’d try a little mini-experiment from home for Nurses’ Week this year. With the help of AI modelling, we have 50 things that we should all know and appreciate about what is on the shoulders of nurses.

Reading this list, please think of one thing you can share some appreciation to a nurse for. Maybe write a card, send a DM, post on your FB wall, make a donation, or host a get-together for all the nurses in your neighbourhood! Whatever it is, use this list for inspiration to share some much-deserved thanks.

It’s not an exhaustive list, nor does it represent the uniqueness of the hundreds of nuisances in nursing, but it’s a start!

50 things the public and patients should know about nurses. They:

  1. image of a female nurse in an operating room counting instrumentsProvide compassionate and expert care to patients.
  2. Save lives.
  3. Stay focused and calm in high-pressure situations.
  4. Ensure patient safety.
  5. Maintain non-traditional work hours.
  6. Sacrifice personal time.
  7. Stay up-to-date on the latest medical advancements and treatments.
  8. Expeditiously gain the trust of patients and families.
  9. Manage challenging interactions with empathy.
  10. Face difficult ethical dilemmas.
  11. Face exposure to contagious illnesses.
  12. Provide peer-to-peer appreciation.
  13. Provide emotional support and comfort.
  14. Juggle multiple priorities (yet often feel they’re not doing enough).
  15. Perform physically demanding tasks.
  16. Work with limited resources and equipment.
  17. Spend a significant amount of time documenting.
  18. Image of the compassion satisfaction to compassion fatigue chart created by Sarah McVanel of Greatness MagnifiedConstantly monitor signs of compassion fatigue.
  19. Collaborate with other healthcare professionals.
  20. Deal with vicarious trauma.
  21. Have diverse specialties and areas of expertise.
  22. Face physical and verbal abuse and violence.
  23. Work in different nursing specialties and care environments across their career.
  24. Provide education and resources.
  25. Precept students.
  26. Support end-of-life.
  27. Advocate for patient rights and needs.
  28. Work in high-stress environments.
  29. Fill in for unfilled shifts in our labour shortage.
  30. Manage emotional reactions.
  31. Initiate difficult conversations in the interdisciplinary team.
  32. Participate in quality reviews and root cause analyses.
  33. Report health and safety issues.
  34. Ensure patient privacy and confidentiality.
  35. Manage competing demands to provide the best care possible.
  36. Volunteer for their associations on the board of directors, in conference planning, and other roles.
  37. image of a smiling female nurse with an elderly smiling female patientMentor new staff and help onboard them.
  38. Adapt to the varying preferences of physicians.
  39. Manage complex medication regimes.
  40. Notice subtle signs in patients’ changing health status.
  41. Balance patient needs with institutional requirements.
  42. Maintain current licensure and certification.
  43. Support their Foundation’s fundraising efforts (e.g., letting grateful patients know they can donate essential equipment).
  44. Attempt to mitigate systemic health disparities and inequalities.
  45. Learn new technologies in a rapidly changing field.
  46. Troubleshoot supply shortages from procurement issues and financial constraints.
  47. Create social and connective experiences to build a sense of team.
  48. Engage in or initiate debriefs after traumatic emergencies and crises.
  49. Communicate safety at handoff.
  50. Continuously learn and grow professionally.

This list doesn’t begin to describe all the things that nurses do and who they are for patients, families, their healthcare partners, and the public. What is missing?

Most importantly, thank a nurse this week, National Nursing Week, and tell him, her or them exactly why you or someone you love has benefited from their love, care and compassion.

My gifts to nurses for National Nursing Week 2023 are the Self-Care in a Busy World course. Anyone in a healthcare and support services role in any sector that provides care and support to others is welcome to have this as our gift – from Greatness Magnified to you. You may also wish to download the Compassion Satisfaction to Compassion Fatigue Chart to help you monitor how well you cope with daily challenges.

Image to celebrate Nurses Week, May 8-12 2023 Image of the cover of the compassion satisfaction to compassion fatigue chart created by Sarah McVanel of Greatness Magnified

In gratitude to all the nurses out there, here are more blog posts where they are featured, and they do deserve our recognition all of the time:

P.S. Our great friend Dr. Renee Thompson also has a very special offer for our much deserving nurses out there: Purchase Dr. Renee’s book, Enough! for $24.99, and you’ll get a FREE e-book: 52 Tactical Tips to Create a Respectful Work Culture in Healthcare.

Image of the book cover "Enough!" and the cover of 52 Tactical Tips to Create a Respectful Workplace by Dr. Renee Thompson

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

Some of the Great Organizations We Serve