HealthMay 16, 2020


The second week of Nurses Month focuses on "recognition." No matter what job we as nurses fulfill, we all want to feel valued, needed, and appreciated. Now more than ever, we appreciate our nurses and nurse leaders who have gone above and beyond during such an extraordinarily challenging and stressful time. With a global pandemic affecting so many areas of "regular life" as we know it, let's make sure we don't let it affect meaningful recognition of our nurses.

What is meaningful recognition?

Meaningful recognition goes beyond saying thank you for a job well done. Meaningful recognition is one of the six evidence-based "Elements of a Healthy Work Environment" as first published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) in 2005. The other five elements of a healthy work environment include: skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision making, appropriate staffing, and authentic leadership (AACN, 2016).

According to AACN, "the standard for meaningful recognition indicates that nurses must be recognized and must recognize others for the value each brings to the work of the organization."

Over the years, many quantitative and qualitative studies have been conducted on the concept of meaningful recognition. Meaningful recognition has the power to produce positive outcomes such as higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, collaboration, and cohesion. Conversely, a lack of meaningful recognition has been found to contribute to stress and burnout, poor morale, turnover, and suboptimal patient care outcomes (Barnes, 2016).

The Daisy Award™

The DAISY Award is one way of providing meaningful recognition. It can influence health care organizations in three ways by: contributing to a healthy work environment, enhancing nursing engagement, and supporting the patient and family experience (The DAISY Foundation, 2020).

An acronym for “diseases attacking the immune system,” the DAISY Foundation™ was formed in 1999 by the family of J. Patrick Barnes who died at the age of 33 from complications due to idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. The Barnes family was deeply touched by the nursing care Patrick received while he was hospitalized. To say thank you for the gift’s that nurses give their patients and families every day, the Barnes family created The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, a.k.a., “The DAISY Award.”

Anyone who experiences or sees compassionate care being given by a nurse can submit a nomination. Nominations can come from patients, families, other nurses, physicians, other clinicians and staff, etc. Today there are over 4,300 health care facilities and schools of nursing in all 50 states dedicated to honoring nurses with The Daisy Award. The award program has also been designed to extend recognition to nursing teams, leadership, nursing faculty, and nursing students.

In light of the current situation, the celebration of Nurses Month will be very different this year. Some activities may need to be modified or even postponed. The DAISY Foundation has put together new offerings and creative ways to recognize those giving care and helping to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines (banners, plaques, special pins, etc).

Other ways of giving recognition

Recognition can also be accomplished in other less formalized but creative ways. Smaller gestures like handwritten cards on employee work anniversaries or birthdays, thank you notes for employees who worked long hours, meal coupons for a free lunch or dinner, or even acknowledging an employee’s personal accomplishment are some ways to give recognition. Larger scale measures can include holding special luncheons and dinners as well as surprise celebrations for a particular day or holiday, and even developing your own “employee of the month” award for your unit. Be aware that not everyone has the same recognition preferences and often, they vary based on the generation and life stage of the individual. Surveying your staff, placing a suggestion box, or asking for feedback during individual interactions are some ways to gain insight on preferences (Drake, 2018).

Recognizing nurses’ contributions in a meaningful way can lead to a reconnection with why they originally chose nursing as a profession and can foster a renewed sense of pride for the important work they do. The celebration of Nurses Month makes this an opportune time to think about ways to recognize our nurses—not only now, but all year-long!

To learn more, visit the DAISY Foundation™ website. Click here to bring The DAISY Award™ to your health care facility.

Lippincott Solutions note: for the latest coverage on Covid-19 by the Lippincott Nursing team, please visit


American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. (2016). Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence (2nd Ed.) Alisio Viejo, CA: American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

Barnes, B., et al. (2016). Putting the “Meaning” in meaningful recognition of nurses: The DAISY Award™. Journal of Nursing Administration, 46(10), 508-512.

Drake, K. (2018). Make the most of staff recognition. Nursing Management, 49(12), 56.

The DAISY Foundation™. (2020). “What is the DAISY Foundation?” [Online]. Accessed May 2020 via the Web:

About the author

Lisa Merenda, MSN, RN, CRRN, Senior Clinical Editor, Lippincott Solutions, is a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse. She has 20 years’ experience in pediatric nursing. Lisa currently oversees the clinical content management for Lippincott Advisor.

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