A single patient. A team of nurses providing compassionate, patient-centered care. A family so thankful that it had to give back. Today, it’s touched more than 177,000 nurses around the world in recognition of what they do every day: deliver high-quality, transformational cancer care.

Nursing organizations across the country like ONS promote and advocate for the role of the nurse as part of their mission and professional work. But public-led groups, often founded and run by patients and families, also aid in that advocacy. The DAISY Foundation is an organization dedicated to recognizing nurses, nurse leaders, and nursing faculty and students, honors nursing professionals through its DAISY Award® for Extraordinary Nurses. The award, which may be a familiar name to oncology nurses, allows patients and organizations to acknowledge exemplar nursing care, something that is critical to promote well-being, positivity, and growth in the profession.

“What really amazed us when we started the DAISY Foundation in 1999 was that nurse leaders didn’t see any reason to have a recognition program for what nurses do every day,” Bonnie Barnes, FAAN(hc), DHL(hc), co-founder and board president of the DAISY Foundation, said. “When I would call hospitals to offer them this program, the response was usually, ‘Our nurses don’t need recognition; that’s not why they do what they do.’ And that’s true. Nurses are incredibly humble, and they don’t want or need recognition. But the more people said, ‘Oh, nurses don’t need this,’ the more I said, ‘Oh yes, they do.’ And more importantly, patients and families need a way to say thank you to nurses for what they do.”

In fact, studies have shown that meaningful recognition reduces nurse burnout and raises compassion satisfaction in the workplace. Being recognized for their dedication and compassion also positively correlates to a nurse’s personal and professional empowerment and success.

ONS member Brigitte Williams, BSN, RN, OCN®, assistant nurse manager at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, TN, received a DAISY Award from one of her patients in 2019. Williams said that it gave her a sense of honor: “Every day, I just come to work, do my job, and take care of my patients. And receiving the award was just the cherry on top of what I do. It was amazing. Just to be recognized is a great feeling; for a patient to say good things about your care, you’re already a winner.”

Although ONS, the DAISY Foundation, and other nursing organizations around the world recognize the importance of expressing gratitude each day to the nursing profession, Barnes said the challenge is to translate that recognition out in the public.

“The public needs to appreciate and value who nurses are and what nurses do for our society,” Barnes said. “When the public expresses gratitude to nurses, values nurses, and elevates the nursing profession through statements of gratitude, nurses are reminded why they became nurses. Patients’ stories of gratitude are very inspiring and uplifting.”

ONS is a supporting organization of the DAISY Foundation, and in 2016, the Society named Barnes and her husband Mark, also a co-founder of the DAISY Foundation, honorary members.

“Nursing associations such as ONS see the benefit of recognizing nurses and show us tremendous support that the DAISY Award has had the impact it has,” Barnes said. “It’s all about partnerships and collaboration. Inviting the DAISY Foundation to conferences like ONS’s gave us credibility and visibility and gave us people to talk to who helped us understand what role recognition can have in nursing.”

You can get involved in recognizing nurses everywhere through volunteer opportunities, awards, social media spotlights, and additional opportunities with ONS.

“Nurses have gone through a lot, especially during these past two years, during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Williams said. “We’re the first responders for everything, and often, nurses don’t get recognition for everything we do. I think it’s about time for nurses to be recognized for their hard work.”