Nurse Manager Jessie Lekites, BSN, RN, has helped coordinate a weeklong celebration for SSM St. Anthony nurses.

For more than 25 years now the healthcare industry has celebrated National Nurses Week.
Cakes, cookies, water bottles, pens – swag in all shapes, sizes and colors are routinely given out to nurses as small tokens of appreciation.
But for SSM Health St. Anthony Nurse Manager Jessie Lekites, BSN, RN, she wanted to go deeper while planning the health system’s recognition events this year.
The week will begin with a traditional blessing of the hands.
“We’re really trying to reach as many of our nurses personally at their place of work, at their campus to really insure everyone is involved,” Lekites said. “It will be a renewal of our purpose and the spirit of what we do.”
Lekites explained the system’s professional nurse practice model includes five elements of “I am an SSM Nurse.”
* I am accountable * I am a partner * I am an advocate * I am a professional * I am a leader.
“Typically in the past we’ve had one day we devoted to whether it’s appreciating them with gifts, cookies or snacks … this year we decided that we would make it the entire week and do an event every day.
“We really wanted to keep our emphasis on appreciating our nurses every day of the week.”
Lekites explained nurses will still be treated throughout the week – from pet therapy to popcorn – but the theme is more about celebrating and fostering deeper relationships.
“I think what we do every day is more than just a job like going to an office,” she said. “I think we’ve seen in the press and media nurses are doing more things, taking on bigger roles in healthcare. They’re putting themselves in harm’s way more than ever.
“I think it’s important this year we really recognize just the daily tasks are not what they used to be. The gravity of what we do is so big.”
When she’s not planning National Nurses Weeks, Lekites is the nurse manager of two medical surgical units. She’s been with St. Anthony since 2005.
The vision for Lekites is a simple one.
“The culture I want is I want our patients to feel safe and I want our patients to feel every person on that floor whether it’s myself, the housekeeper, the nurses, the tech that they are all there with the same purpose and there’s no other patient in the hospital but them.
“Everyone is willing to give that extra bit. No one is clocking out and leaving one behind. I think when you have that with the nursing staff it resonates straight to the patients.
They feel that and it’s tangible.”
She points to the system’s nurse residency program that walks nurses through their first year as a success.
The residency puts new nurses in touch with resources they can turn to and lets the know they are supported.
“That really gives them a sense of safety. There are people they can talk to other than just their manager. It’s an extensive network of people they can go to for support and help,” Lekites said. “I think more so now in the generations coming up it’s not just let me do my job it’s give me feedback and tell me how I’m doing. There’s a lot more give and take and constructive criticism.
“We try to be extremely inclusive in giving new nurses the opportunity to be on the unit based councils, make those decisions and guide where the process is going and have a hand in it.”
That translates into something nurses can feel.
“I think we do amazingly well,” she said “I’ve worked here for 15 years and I’ve seen the same faces. And the new ones who’ve come in the last five. The nurse techs I have on my floor when I opened the med surg unit I’m on now two and a half years ago I’m helping them find a floor that fits them.
“Once you know someone is doing the right thing the right way and they’re good for your organization you find a spot whether it’s with you or not.”