The More Nurses Care for Themselves, the More They Can Care for Others

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A role model for many and a pioneer of the nursing profession, Florence Nightingale’s birthday is celebrated on May 12. The week leading up to that day, May 6-12, is National Nurses Week and the American Nurses Association (ANA) has selected Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit as the theme for this year’s celebration. The theme spotlights nurses who lead the charge for health and wellness not only in others, but in themselves as well.  

Nursing is known as the caring profession, and the concept of “caring” is synonymous with “nursing.” Research shows that those who choose the profession of nursing do so because they desire to provide care to or assist those experiencing an alteration in their psychological or physical well-being (Crane & Ward, 2016).

In conceptualizing both nursing and caring, nurses are portrayed as caring for others. However, this caring frequently leads to nurses failing to do a good job in caring for themselves (Crane & Ward, 2016). Nurses struggle with multiple health, safety, and wellness challenges, including workplace stress, obesity, fatigue, lack of exercise, and poor nutritional habits as shown in ANA’s 2016 Health Risk Appraisal (“2017: Year of the healthy nurse”, n.d.).

ANA defines a healthy nurse as someone who “actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal, and professional wellbeing” (“Year of the Healthy Nurse, 2017). The association has developed the “Engage in the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Grand Challenge” in an effort to improve the health of the nation's 3.6 million registered nurses which will ultimately benefit the health of the nation. Each month, ANA offers a different topic that includes resources, events, and activities related to the identified topic. May’s topic is women’s health and national fitness and sports month. Learn more about the 2017 Year of the Healthy Nurse.

There are many ways to engage in self-care: eating healthfully, exercising, reducing stress, engaging in spiritual and meditation practices, and taking time to just have fun! Think about what you can do to find balance of mind, body, and spirit. It’s time to think about your health and well-being. Your nursing colleagues need you to be healthy and so do your patients. Learn more about how to move forward with your RN career path.



Written by Gwen Morse, PhD, MSN, RN, Associate Professor and Lead Faculty, RN-BSN Program, and Michael Graham, DNP, PhD, APRN, CNP, Professor and Chair, RN-BSN Program



American Nurses Association (n.d.). 2017 year of the healthy nurse. Retrieved from

American Nurses Association. (n.d.). 2017: Year of the healthy nurse. Balance your life for a healthier you. Retrieved from

Crane, P. J., & Ward, S. F. (2016). Self-healing and self-care for nurses. AORN Journal, 386-400. Retrieved from

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