When should you be recognizing your healthcare employees?
Throughout the year, there are dedicated awareness days, weeks, and months that are officially designated to celebrate healthcare professionals in specific roles, fields, and sectors.
These dates are designed to shine a light on the important work each and every person in our healthcare system does, and make sure both the sung and unsung heroes of the field feel valued.
While there will be a wide range of healthcare recognition days in 2024, with many dedicated to very specific roles, here are a few of the most important to mark in your calendar.
Professional healthcare employee recognition days for 2024
Let’s start with some 2024 healthcare recognition days that will be relevant to a lot of HR leaders working in different facilities and environments. These days celebrate some of the most crucial staff members that typically make up a healthcare team.
1. National Pharmacist Day - Jan 12, 2024
Pharmacists are essential to our health system, helping to ensure that patient medications are prepared, stored, and administered correctly. The knowledge these professionals need to develop of different treatments, dosages, and possible precautions is immense, and it takes incredible dedication to work in the field.
This day celebrates both pharmacists who work in retail environments, as well as more specialized pharmacists who provide onsite services at hospitals, clinics, and other facilities.
2. Registered Dietician Nutritionist Day - March 20
Celebrated on the third Wednesday in March, this is a healthcare employee recognition day that can sometimes slip under the radar for HR professionals.
While some dieticians and nutritionists work independently, others will often work with other medical professionals in various settings to assist in making sure patients maintain a healthy diet during and after treatment. Since some treatments can affect appetite and taste, their work is often crucial to helping maintain patient health. If you have nutritionists on staff, it’s important that you don’t miss this chance to recognize their good work.
3. National Doctors Day - March 30
Whether in hospitals, clinics, or other settings, doctors work tirelessly to provide care in their communities and save lives.
Working in this profession requires incredible dedication, taking up to 11 years of training (more for specialized positions), and sometimes involving work weeks up to 80 hours! Since doctors also often oversee larger medical teams, they also need leadership qualities, organizational skills, and the ability to stay calm under pressure. It’s a tough job, and one that deserves to be recognized for its value.
4. National Nurses Day - May 6
Of course, nurses are arguably just as important as doctors to our health system. They are often the ones on the frontlines handling most of patient care and treatment, and also have to contend with long hours, years of training, and high pressure.
National Nurses Day is probably the most well-known healthcare recognition day in this field, but there are also other days and weeks throughout the year that honour nurses of various levels and specializations, such as:
- PeriAnesthesia Nurse Awareness Week - February 4-10
- Ambulatory Care Nurses Week - February 4-10
- Certified Nurses Day - March 19
- Occupational Health Nurses Week - April 9-15
- Transplant Nurses Week - April 22-29
- National Skilled Nursing Care Week - May 12-18 (celebrating nurses who work in care facilities)
- Oncology Nurses Month - May
- Neonatal Nurses Day - August 15
- Emergency Nurses Day- October 11
- Pediatric Nurses Week - October 7-11
- National Nurse Practitioner Week - Nov 10-17
If you have nurses in your team, you should be aiming to recognize them on both National Nurses Day plus any other days that might be relevant to their work and specializations.
5. Personal Support Worker Day - May 19
Personal support workers (sometimes called healthcare assistants or healthcare aides depending on where you are located) are the glue that holds a lot of healthcare facilities together.
A PSW will often take care of more practical tasks in some healthcare facilities, such as preparing baths or changing sheets and clothes, but can also play more central roles in helping elderly or chronically ill patients with daily living, often making a massive difference to their quality of life. Their work is often not given the credit it deserves, but Personal Support Worker Day is a chance to show these professionals just how valued they are.
6. Health Unit Coordinator Day - August 23
Administrative staff in the healthcare sector can often take a back seat to clinical professionals, but their work is just as important. Health unit coordinators are some of the biggest heroes of this field, doing everything from checking in patients, to scheduling appointments, to verifying paperwork.
Their work helps hospitals, clinics, and other facilities function efficiently, and frees up valuable time for medical staff to focus on patient care and procedural work.
7. Medical Assistants Recognition Day - October 16
Medical assistants perform a similar function to healthcare unit coordinators, helping healthcare facilities run smoothly and taking some of the administrative burden off clinical staff.
This healthcare employee recognition day is celebrated on the Wednesday of the third week of October, meaning it falls on October 16 in 2024.
8. International Volunteer Day - December 5
While they’re not technically staff, HR leaders would be wise to include volunteers in their healthcare employee recognition efforts. Whether in elder care, pediatrics, palliative care, or any other facilities, goodhearted volunteers will often use their free time to brighten up the days of patients, spending time with them and giving their loved ones some much-needed support.
December 5 is a day for healthcare organizations to celebrate volunteers and let them know that they are a part of your team.
Healthcare appreciation weeks
While there are a huge amount of healthcare recognition days on the calendar, there are also dedicated weeks celebrating different professionals in the healthcare system.
Healthcare appreciation weeks can often give HR teams a lot more options to make their people feel recognized, as they can plan different events and surprises over the course of a few days. Here’s a few to keep in your diary for 2024.
9. National Activity Professionals Week - Jan 22-28
Activity professionals plan activities and events to enhance the wellbeing and quality of life of patients. They usually work in elder care and assisted living facilities, but can also be found in other fields of healthcare, such as pediatrics.
This is another role that can be often overlooked when it comes to healthcare recognition, as they are not part of the main clinical team. But their role in helping patients to maintain a positive outlook and enjoy their lives cannot be underestimated.
10. National Patient Recognition Week - February 1-7
As many healthcare professionals will tell you, patients are part of the team, too, and often the ‘first line of defense’ when it comes to their own care and recovery.
Many patients work incredibly hard in difficult circumstances to get better, often showing tremendous courage when undergoing difficult procedures, dealing with discomfort, and coming to terms with living with their conditions.
No matter what field of the sector you are in, including National Patient Recognition Week in your healthcare celebration weeks calendar for 2024 can be a good move, and help to strengthen the relationships between your staff and the people you serve.
11. Cardiovascular Professionals Week - Feb 11-17
Some healthcare recognition weeks focus on a particular area of the field rather than a profession. Cardiovascular health is one of the most important areas of medicine, as professionals in this field tirelessly dedicate themselves to treating conditions of the heart and blood vessels, which are the leading cause of death globally.
Professionals in this field don’t just include doctors, but also nurses, pharmacists, technicians, and countless other professionals. Cardiovascular Professionals Week is a chance to both recognize the work these employees do, but also raise awareness of the importance of cardiovascular health.
12. Healthcare HR Professionals Week, March 18-22
As you consider what healthcare employee recognition weeks your company should be celebrating, it’s important not to forget about your own team!
Healthcare HR Professionals Week falls on the third week of March every year, and is a chance to show appreciation for the role that human resources plays in supporting the health system. This has become an increasingly challenging field in the past few years, with various factors making it harder to attract, retain, and engage staff, so it’s important for you and your team to take a step back and acknowledge the brilliant work that you’re all doing.
13. Medical Lab Professionals Week (National Medical Laboratory Week) - April 21-27
Medical lab technicians are some of the unsung heroes of healthcare, often working in the background without much visibility. But the work they do is vital to patient care, and can often make a world of difference to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illnesses.
14. National Nurses Week - May 6-12
While we highlighted National Nurses Day earlier in this blog, it’s important to note that it’s just one day in an entire healthcare celebration week honoring the contribution of nurses!
If you’re looking to mark National Nurses Day, planning to show your appreciation over the course of the whole week through different rewards or events could make your nurses feel even more recognized.
15. National Hospital Week - May 12-18
National Hospital Week is another healthcare employee recognition week that offers the opportunity to show your appreciation to staff across different roles. It’s also an opportunity for HR teams working in hospitals to raise awareness about the vital roles these institutions play in society.
Hospitals, associations, and other healthcare organizations will also often use social media to highlight the contributions of its employees during the week, using the hashtags #HospitalWeek and #WeAreHealthcare.
16. Healthcare Supply Chain Week, October 6-12
This is another example of a very overlooked group of employees in the healthcare industry. Supply chain professionals make sure that medical facilities have enough medications, equipment, machinery, and other essentials in order to give patients the care they need. Without them, the system would crumble.
These professionals also often have to work with tight deadlines and turnarounds, as time is often of the essence. The first full week in October is a chance to show them the appreciation they deserve.
Healthcare appreciation months in 2024
If a week isn’t enough time to give your team the appreciation they deserve, how about a month?
Here’s a few recognized appreciation months for employees in the healthcare sector.
17. National Social Work Month - March
When patients face serious or debilitating conditions, having the support of social workers can make a world of difference. These professionals will often help patients and their families navigate paperwork, apply for benefits, and manage their finances in times where they are too stressed to deal with these issues.
18. Occupational Therapy Month - April
Occupational therapists work in various fields of healthcare to help patients overcome physical, cognitive, or mental barriers caused by illness or injury.
Whether dealing with patients in recovery or helping them adjust to chronic conditions, their work helps people to live, work and enjoy life as self-sufficiently as possible.
19. Counseling Awareness Month - April
Where clinical staff are helping patients to overcome physical conditions, counselors are often there alongside them helping to address patients’ mental health.
Dealing with medical conditions can cause no end of anxiety, fear, and mental exhaustion, and counselors often provide emotional support that makes just as much of a difference as medical interventions.
20. Critical Care Awareness and Recognition Month - May
Working in an intensive care unit (ICU) is arguably one of the most challenging environments in the healthcare sector. Professionals who choose to work in ICUs exclusively treat patients with critical conditions.
They navigate life-threatening situations for patients, support their families at their most vulnerable, and literally save lives every day. It’s an incredibly taxing job, and those who devote their careers to it deserve all the appreciation in the world.
During the second Friday of the month (May 10 in 2024), those who want to recognize the work of ICU professionals are encouraged to wear blue for the day. This is something you can encourage your employees to do even if they don’t work in critical care, and may especially be a nice gesture if you have close connections to ICU teams through your work.
21. National Family Caregivers Month - November
Another one that’s not strictly a healthcare employee recognition day, but should probably be in your diary nonetheless. Whether the patient is an elderly relative, a child, a partner, or another loved one, family caregivers often form a vital part of their healthcare team.
They take on a tremendous emotional burden, will often have to learn how to perform medical care tasks with zero experience or expertise, and can also need to make financial sacrifices to help a patient get better. National Family Caregivers Month is a chance for your team to acknowledge the important role they play, and to help raise awareness about caregiver challenges and issues.
Other essential recognition days
While the other dates in this list relate specifically to healthcare, there are also a few more general employee recognition days and other significant celebrations throughout the year that might be relevant to your team. Here’s a few you might want to include in your recognition strategy.
22. Employee Appreciation Day - March 1
Naturally, you’ll want to make sure you show your people some recognition on Employee Appreciation Day. This day celebrates employees at all levels in all fields, meaning everyone in your organization can be included.
23. Administrative Professionals Week - April 21-27
A lot of healthcare organizations rely heavily on administrative staff to keep their operations running, and this week gives you a chance to thank them for their hard work.
Administrative professionals can include office assistants, managers, data entry clerks, and many other roles, so make sure you are including everyone in your team who needs to be included. Keep in mind, too, that Administrative Professionals Day also falls during this week, on April 24.
24. Mental Health Awareness Week - October 6-12
While this is not a healthcare appreciation week per se, it is a time of year when your organization should be doing something for your employees and their wellbeing. Healthcare jobs can be tough, and the toll that takes on the mental health of employees cannot be underestimated, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. More than half of healthcare staff reported symptoms of burnout in a recent study.
Bearing that in mind, Mental Health Awareness Week should be a time for your HR team to promote the importance of self-care and wellness to your employees, and to let them know that it’s okay not to be okay.
25. National Customer Service Week - October 7-11
Depending on the nature of your organization, you may have a number of staff in customer or patient-facing roles. These employees have a very demanding job, and often go out of their way to solve problems for the people you serve. National Customer Service Week is your chance to show your appreciation to them.
26. National Nonprofit Day - August 17
Another healthcare recognition day that’s worth remembering as it gives you a chance to recognize the contribution of people who may not be directly employed by your organization, but are still a valued part of your team.
In many areas of the healthcare sector, nonprofit organizations provide valuable support, and may even provide services or perform roles that help your organization function. National Nonprofit Day can be a chance for you and your employees to show their appreciation to nonprofits you have a strong connection with.
27. World Day for Health and Safety at Work - August 28
In almost any healthcare organization, the importance of health and safety is paramount. Ensuring that proper precautions are taken, keeping equipment, supplies, and areas clean, and following the correct processes for handling, usage, and disposal of items can all be vital in keeping patients safe.
As a HR leader in healthcare, the World Day for Health and Safety at Work is your chance to further promote this important aspect of the work your employees do, and to recognize the efforts they make towards maintaining a safe environment.
Add these healthcare recognition days to your 2024 calendar
Want all of these dates added automatically to your Google Calendar? Guusto’s 2024 HR Calendar is now available, and includes all of the dates listed above, as well as:
- More employee appreciation dates
- DEI and awareness dates
- National & international holidays and festivals
- Other fun dates with exciting ideas for recognition
Take your healthcare recognition further with our free guide
While showing your appreciation to employees on healthcare recognition days is a great start, investing in a real-time recognition program can have even more of an impact on your culture.
In Employee Recognition for Healthcare: The Complete Guide, we talk about the challenges involved in implementing recognition effectively in the sector, and provide a blueprint for success. Fill out this form to get your copy today: