Every June you get the opportunity to celebrate the staff that takes on hard and uniquely difficult tasks—and they do it without complaint. These medical staffers are beacons of light that are so critical to the day-to-day survival for people, hospitals, and medicine as an industry. That’s why it’s particularly important to make sure you can show them your thanks all year long.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- When Is National Nursing Assistants Week and National Career Nursing Assistants Day?
- Why Do We Celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week?
- Activity Ideas for National Nursing Assistants Week
- Gifts to Give for National Nursing Assistants Week
Whether you are looking to brush up on a little Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) history or find out how to celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week well, you’ll find some great tips listed below.
When Is National Nursing Assistants Week and National Career Nursing Assistants Day?
Career Nursing Assistant’s Day kicks off National Nursing Assistants’ Week every June. Each year, starting on the Thursday of the second full week of June, CNAs and all of their hard work are celebrated for a full seven days. Here are the dates for the upcoming years, including 2021.
- 2021: June 17-23
- 2022: June 16-22
- 2023: June 15-21
- 2024: June 13-19
- 2025: June 12-18
Why Do We Celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week?
Certified Nursing Assistants work with nurses to help their patients with daily living needs and other healthcare tasks. It's a newer profession than nursing — discover how it got started and how you can celebrate their work.
How it got started
Officially since 1977, Certified Nursing Assistants have had a national day of appreciation followed by a full week of celebrations.
The beginning of the CNA profession coincided with World War I. At that time, almost 8,000 nurses initially deployed to serve under the Red Cross Program.
Serving alongside U.S. Army nurses, they worked in triage in major areas to treat wounded soldiers as well as fill positions of acute care in reserve, field, base and civilian hospitals. These nurses proved themselves to be tireless advocates for the well-being of American soldiers, simultaneously proving themselves praiseworthy for their bravery and strength.
Six decades after World War I, CNAs would again find the call for action to be unavoidable. After President Ronald Regan signed the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987, or an act to improve nursing homes, the CNA job market boomed.
How you can celebrate
Recognizing your staffers’ hard work can be one of the most crucial morale boosters you can provide for them.
First, who are these warriors? What do they do day in and day out? How often do they do menial tasks without complaining? If you take the time to highlight all the little things they do, you are raising not only the standards for your staff but also showing how much you value their work and their attitudes. Furthermore, you also improve overall hospital care.
Second, you can make CNA appreciation a hospital-wide event. Online, you can find pre-made social media posts, on top of advertisement graphics to send to the local newspaper. In addition, you can purchase posters, balloons, a cake for the office, and more. This is just another way to make them feel as special as they are.
Third, get the entire staff involved by wearing buttons, t-shirts or both. If you make the culture of the whole company from the boardroom down conscious of their daily contributions, you help provide support and transparency to encourage respect for this tough staff. Besides, giving people buttons to pin on their scrubs can make for excellent conversation starters.
If you break it down, you’ve only got one full week to make sure that your CNA staff knows you value their hard work, which means you only have seven full days to shine a little sunshine back to those who hustle every day.
Activity Ideas for National Nursing Assistants Week
Given that it is a full week of celebrations, if you haven’t started planning your CNA appreciation week, you are already behind. Your tireless staffers deserve all the accolades you can bring them.
You should even be planning for next year long before this year’s events end. Here are a few options.
Start with a kick-off campaign and end with a bang!
Get CNA-appreciation week off to a good start with some breakroom events, contests, and treats. Continue all week-long building up the contests, treats, and boosting morale.
Finally, end the week with a bang by giving away the best raffle prize of the bunch.
Individually recognize each and every one of your team
Each one of them has a special place in your heart and in the hearts of your patients. Don’t forget to take a special moment for each one of your CNA staffers by either sharing your appreciation with everyone else or conducting a short meeting with them one-on-one.
Do they have a tireless smile? A can-do attitude? Are they always volunteering to help out and dig in when it gets crazy? In the end, it’s good to let everyone else know why you appreciate their work.
Go out to the community to bring them inside to yours
Bring leaders of the local community into your hospital like the city council, mayor, police chief, and fire chief to help shower accolades on your incredible staff. Also, encourage your board of directors to show up as well so they can see their widespread impact.
If it makes sense, invite the local newspaper to cover the weeklong celebration or write a special feature about your staffers. Promoting your staff not only showcases the value of your organization in your local community, but also provides an in-depth look at the hard work needed to run such a place.
Hold a CNA-only raffle and only raffle awesome prizes
What’s better than starting that Thursday with giveaways and really cool prizes? First, decide on your budget, then go buy that recumbent bike or six-month yoga membership to raffle off.
No matter what your budget is, you are certain to find that perfect something to encourage a fun, healthy boost of energy for your staff.
Baking heart-shaped pizzas, pastries, and everything else
Unless you won the Great British-Baking Show or have a chef in your back pocket, you may need some help on this one. When you were planning your week of festivities, you probably built a theme around an idea.
For example, if your theme is to show the importance of your staff by comparing them to a beating heart, then perhaps you can order an electrocardiogram of bell peppers or mushrooms on the pizza. Otherwise, consider making small heart-shaped cakes or a large anatomically-correct cake with all the valves and arteries presented. Give your staff the opportunity to imagine themselves as surgeons.
Gifts to Give for National Nursing Assistants Week
If you have a dynamite CNA, you may have a lot to appreciate from them. They probably hear everything, offer spot-on support every time, or may have a great sense of humor for all they do.
Consider a few of these gift ideas so you can let them know how thankful you are for all their hard work and dedication.
Appreciation lapel pin
This is a sweet gesture for any Certified Nursing Assistant on your staff. With a nice, ornate, and simple lapel pin, this is something they can hold onto their entire lives, and perhaps pass down to their grandkids. We like these lapel pins that say "I make a difference."
Switch them up yearly so that your long-term staff can have options when they put on their scrubs.
Fancy retractable ID badge reels
Consider purchasing a few ID badge reels for your staff. Not only are they incredibly useful, but having an extra bit of personalization can make them smile. It’ll be nice for them to remember how much you appreciate them every time they clip their ID on their scrubs.
You can find ones with different colors and designs online, like these ID badge reels. Also, purchase more than one badge reel, just for backups in case they break.
Personalized office wear
Hospitals are notoriously cold. That means a really warm personalized half-zip sweatshirt, like this one from Amazon, would come in super handy.
If you get the name of your hospital embroidered on it as well as their initials, then you can have an awesome crew giving you dynamite advertising.
Personalized CNA tote bag
Encourage your staff to reuse bags, and provide them a nicely illustrated or screen-printed tote, like this one. You can pack it with useful items like tumblers, t-shirts, and some caregiver and healthcare books as well.
One of the main reasons to add the books could be to encourage continued learning and the opportunity to excel.
A new set of scrubs
Well-made scrubs can run over $50, so a perfect gift could be a new set of scrubs—or two. To make this easy, just pick the same color for everyone or offer a variety of colors in different sizes for them to choose from. We like the Adar Pro scrub set.
If you need more recommendations, check out our picks for the best gifts for nurses.
Can’t Do it Without You Week!
Once you’ve laid out the framework on what or how to celebrate, the rest is easy. As this is just seven days of showing your admiration, thanks, and appreciation, you’ll be setting the groundwork to have a more cohesive and reliable staff.
Hopefully, you will have another fifty-one more weeks of incredible people doing incredible things.
Post-loss tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, the emotional and technical aspects of handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
- 42nd Annual National Nursing Assistants Week. 2019. CNA Network. Retrieved at: cna-network.org/2019/05/22/42nd-annual-national-nursing-assistants-week/
- Contributions of the US Army Nurse Corps in WWI. 2020. The Army Nurse Corps Association. Retrieved at: e-anca.org/History/Topics-in-ANC-History/Contributions-of-the-US-Army-Nurse-Corps-in-WWI
- The History of the CNAs. 2020. CNA Buzz. Retrieved at: www.cnabuzz.com/cna-guide/history-cnas/