ONA Executive Director Jane Nelson.

Nurses Month to Kick-off New RNconnect Program

By Jane Nelson, CAE, ONA CEO

May is a big month for celebrations. Usually you think of graduations, Mother’s Day and hopefully Florence Nightingale’s Birthday – but as we all know, this year has been different. After the year nurses have had we’re extending nurses week again this year to include the entire month of May as a celebration of nurses including a well-deserved extension through 2021 as “The Year of the Nurse,” from the American Nurses Association. The theme for this year’s Nurses’ Month is, “You Make a Difference.” This theme was selected as a nod to the massive number of nurses that had an unparalleled impact on patients and health care during this fight against the pandemic. This theme also provides the public with an open invitation to #ThankaNurse for enriching the lives of so many and fighting to make a difference in our ever-changing world.
The news is full of articles and stories about what nurses need and how they are coping in the light of this pandemic. Two such articles are American Nursing is Having a Crisis published in The New York Times, and Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis: Overcrowding Hospitals Cost Lives!, from NPR. Both articles do a great job in sharing the reality of what nurses have faced over the last year and what those battling for the profession truly need. While much of this isn’t new to you, it is the general public – and its information they need to know.
When you take the longtime shortage of nurses in Oklahoma and combine the impact on nurses due to the fight against the pandemic, we are left with a vital industry on the edge of crisis. The American Nurses Foundation has conducted a number of surveys this year with the most recent one in February 2021, Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses COVID-19 Survey Series: Year One COVID-19 Impact Assessment www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/work-environment/health-safety/disaster-preparedness/coronavirus/what-you-need-to-know/year-one-covid-19-impact-assessment-survey. The statistics from this survey reflected the year nurses had and the toll that COVID-19 is taking on this dedicated profession.
The study reported that of the nurses surveyed, 51% reported being exhausted, 43% reported being overwhelmed, 23% are depressed, 22% are angry and a mere 21% are optimistic about the future. While these results are vivid and hard-hitting, even more impactful are the stats on how nurses are handling the stress and strain of the pandemic. Only 24% reported having sought professional mental health support and of the nurses that haven’t, 52% say they haven’t needed mental health support, 36% believe they should be able to manage it themselves and 30% site a lack of time.
These staggering statistics are just part of the reason why ANA and ONA have increased the time to recognize Nurses from a week to a month and why it’s more important than ever to encourage nurses, individuals, employers, other health care professionals and community leaders to recognize and promote the vast contributions and positive impact of America’s nurses. Through sheer numbers and wide-ranging roles, nurses have an unmatched perspective on prevention, wellness and delivery of health care services. Stories of strength, resilience and determination while navigating an ever-changing and complex health care landscape reinforce how nurses make a difference. The goal for having a different focus each week is to inspire nurses to engage in activities that make a positive difference in their own health, well-being, professional development and community.
Here is the breakdown for each weekly theme in Nurses Month:
· Week 1 – Self-care (May 1-9)
· Week 2 – Recognition (May 10-16)
· Week 3 – Professional Development (May 17-23)
· Week 4 – Community Engagement (May 24-31)
A new, free webinar for Nurses Month is planned for May 19th with a focus on the updated Scope and Standards of Nursing, 4th edition. Register for the free webinar, “Redefining Nursing – Reaffirming Our Practice: Introducing the Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, Fourth Edition” by visiting the newly updated and improved Year of the Nurse website.
If you want to share how you made a difference as a nurse or know a nurse who made a difference, share your story here, along with a photo or video. Your story could be presented in ANA’s new and improved digital storybook, To Be A Nurse, one of the newest features on the Year of the Nurse website.
Follow ANA Enterprise on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to share and retweet inspiring content during Nurses Month and all year long. New this year, born out of a partnership with the American Nurses Foundation and the Arizona Nurses Association is the launch of a free program built to help ensure all Oklahoma nurses have the mental and emotional support they need. The program is called RNconnect.
The RNconnect program allows nurses to easily integrate well-being into his or her day by receiving twice-weekly tips on how to de-stress, strengthen mind and body and prioritize self-care. The helpful text messages will connect nurses to available resources such as counseling, easy self-care activities and opportunities to connect with other nurses facing the same challenges.
Everyone knows the hardship the pandemic has placed on our country’s nurses. What many don’t know is how deep that hardship has hit. The American Nurses Foundation survey reported that 40% of nurses indicated they have considered leaving their employer, citing that work is affecting health and well-being; staffing issues, stressful workplace environment and concerns about keeping their own family safe. It is more important than ever that nurses lean on each other and the institutions that are here to serve nurses. I feel that with ANA and ONA programming, faith in each other, prioritization of self-care and the vaccine – we will make it through this long dark night together.
Chief Executive Officer-Jane Nelson, CAE was named the CEO of the Oklahoma Nurses Association in March 2002. She has more than 30 years of association management and marketing experience with a variety of organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. Nelson is a member of the American Society of Association Executives and the Oklahoma Society of Association Executives. For more information visit: https://ona.nursingnetwork.com/