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National Nurses Week: Embarking on a Journey to Well-Being


The History of National Nurses Week

In 1953, Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare sparked a remarkable movement with her proposal for Nurses Day. This proposal culminated in two signed presidential proclamations for National Nurses Week and Nurses Day. Then, in 1994, the American Nurses Association Board of Directors designated May 6 to May 12 as the official dates for National Nurses Week. This journey of recognition and appreciation for nurses has transformed into an annual celebration of their invaluable and tireless contributions to society.¹


This year’s National Nurses Week theme, “Nurses Make the Difference,” comes as no surprise, considering Gallup has ranked nurses as the most honest and ethical professionals for the 21st consecutive year. Nurses’ unwavering dedication to providing exceptional patient-centered care, supporting family members and serving their communities underscores this well-deserved and prestigious title. However, amidst the enduring challenges of COVID-19 and the lingering high levels of stress and burnout, it’s crucial to reflect on how we can support and sustain these caregivers, ensuring that trust in their vital role remains steadfast.

We posit there is much work ahead of us. In 2023, research conducted by the American Nurses Foundation and McKinsey revealed alarming statistics: Fifty-six percent of nurses experience burnout, while 64% reported feeling “a great deal of stress” at work. Additionally, a study by AMN Healthcare Services, Inc. found that the key factor driving nurse leader turnover is burnout, with 72% of nurse leaders indicating they sometimes, often or always experience burnout. Further, 31% plan to leave their jobs in the next year due to challenging work conditions. Nurses attribute burnout to various factors, including insufficient staffing, high patient loads, poor and difficult leadership and excessive administrative tasks.² These challenges mirror those faced by physicians, such as bureaucratic tasks, long work hours and lack of respect.³

Elevate Nurses Week with Accordant’s ethos

As your organization prepares for Nurses Week, consider how your activities can be enhanced beyond merely one week of celebrations. Design activities that prioritize well-being, drawing from research and evidence-based practices in gratitude, neuroscience and psychology. Focus on cultivating the mindset, actions and behaviors that promote holistic health for nurses—addressing physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social well-being. These activities should engage nurses in a journey of self-reflection, continuous learning and personal growth.

At Accordant, we call this approach ethos. The name “ethos” comes from Greek and emphasizes the distinguishing character and guiding values and virtues of a person, community or institution. Accordant’s ethos approach cultivates the values and virtues of gratitude, kindness and compassion to holistically care for nurses (and all clinicians) so they can continue their noble and impactful work.

So, how do we start this humanistic and holistic well-being approach for nurses? It may be helpful to begin by exploring the science behind the health and well-being benefits of gratitude. Research shows that cultivating and sustaining gratitude yields many benefits, impacting various aspects of well-being.


  • Promotes healing, strengthens our immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness and increases pain thresholds.

  • Creates resilience by fostering greater mental, emotional and physical health and well-being.

  • Generates more positive social behaviors, buffers against negativity bias, bolsters teamwork and broadens our attention to positive emotions.⁴

We cannot effectively focus on others until we ourselves feel safe. Our brain’s primary responsibility is survival, often resulting in a fixation on the negative. Additionally, prolonged chronic stress can change the architecture of the brain. Gratitude serves as a guiding compass for nurses, helping them identify the aspects of their lives that hold significance and purpose, especially during times of stress, anxiety and overwhelm. With this inner guidance system, nurses can build greater resilience, lessen the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and foster post-traumatic growth (PTG).

We cannot effectively focus on others until we ourselves feel safe.

Kickstart the Well-Being Journey for Nurses

While one week may not be enough to make a lasting difference, the conclusion of your Nurses Week activities can mark the beginning of a life-long journey to well-being. By empowering nurses to prioritize feeling safe, nurturing healthy relationships and balancing their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, organizations can also bolster patient trust and advance their mission and vision. This approach creates a lasting impact not only for nurses but for the entire community.

Accordant Perspectives_National Nurses Week
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About the Author: Linda Roszak Burton BS, BBC, ACC, is a Principal Consultant and a certified executive coach with Accordant. She is the author of Gratitude Heals: A Journal for Inspiration and Guidance. Her TEDx Talk on the Power of Gratitude was released in 2022. You can reach her at and through LinkedIn.


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The Accordant Team has published a number of books to advance the efforts of health care philanthropy and help development leaders everywhere. 

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Accordant is honored to collaborate with American Hospital Association Trustee Services to provide issue papers, templates and webinars to support the involvement of healthcare trustees and foundation board members in advancing philanthropy. These resources can also be found on the AHA Trustee website.

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