Awards for All Nurses: Recognizing Nurses throughout the Year

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National Nurses Week 2016

Each year, the crucial role nurses play in health care is celebrated during National Nurses Week. But a week doesn’t do justice to the outstanding nurses who make a difference in patients’ lives every day.

Although nurses don’t easily accept praise, often brushing it off as part of the job, exceptional nurses deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Local, regional and national institutions all offer ways to thank the nurses around you. These national awards are just a sampling of how to acknowledge the impact of nurses who make the ultimate difference.

The DAISY Foundation

The DAISY award was created after the death of patient Patrick Barnes, who passed away after an eight-week hospital stay in 1999. His family started the DAISY Foundation as a way to say thank you to the nursing community. The DAISY award is a merit-based award that honors great clinical skill and leadership, plus strong patient care and compassion.

American Red Cross National Nursing Awards

The Red Cross offers three national nursing awards that recognize hard-working nurses with a variety of specialties.

Susan Hassmiller Nursing Award: Dedicated to exemplary programs of the Red Cross that demonstrate increased engagement of nurses in policy, leadership, and service delivery positions.

Ann Magnussen Award: Presented annually to a volunteer or employed registered nurse who makes an outstanding contribution to improving or strengthening local American Red Cross programs.

Florence Nightingale Medal: Awarded by the International Committee of the Red Cross to qualified nurses or voluntary nurse aides on a global scale who have demonstrated exceptional courage and service to patients of a conflict or disaster. This medal is the highest international distinction to receive in nursing. Nominations are open in the fall of even years.

Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing

Emerging Nurse Researcher AwardRecognizes a member from each global region who has initiated research that has affected the nursing industry in a positive way. STTI members are eligible for nomination by their peers.

International Nurse Researcher Hall of FameFor nurse researchers who have received worthwhile recognition, either nationally or internationally for their work.

Honorary Membership AwardGranted to individuals who are not eligible for regular STTI membership but continue to exhibit exceptional achievements in nursing on a national or global level.

ANA National Awards

The American Nurses Association recognizes nurses for distinguished practice in a variety of categories. National nominations are awarded every two years.

The Honorary Nursing Practice Award: Acknowledges registered nurses working in direct patient care for at least five years. Someone who contributes tirelessly to the advancement of nursing practice, encourages their peers in their own practice and acts as a role model at work, is an excellent candidate for this award.

Pearl McIver Public Health Nurse Award: Created in honor of Peal McIver, a dedicated public health nurse who was first recognized by the Public Health Nurse Award in 1956. Nurses who make significant contributions to public health by demonstrating national leadership, exuding professional expertise and participating in national activities of the ANA fit the criteria for this recognition.

Staff Nurse Patient Advocacy Award: For nurses who inspire their colleagues, day in and day out. Nominees must be employed as a staff nurse: one who is nonsupervisory, nonmanagerial, who is employed by a health care institution or agency and whose primary role is direct patient care.

Luther Christman Award: Established to recognize Dr. Luther Christman’s contributions to nursing and to recognize the contributions that individual male nurses have made in their field. Contribution areas include practice, research, education public policy and community service.

Mary Mahoney Award: Named after Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first African American graduate nurse in the United States in 1879. Honorees will have made significant contributions to the opening and advancing of equal opportunities in nursing to members of minority groups.

ANA Hall of Fame Award: Created to recognize the relentless commitment of those in the nursing profession, and their profound impact on the health of our nation. For each award cycle, two nurses, living or dead, can be inducted.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing Awards

The AACN recognizes individuals and organizations who made outstanding achievements in the nursing profession in diversity, innovation, partnership and teaching.

Honor a peer anyway

If these awards seem out of reach for you and your colleagues, recognize a nurse anyway. Make up a category, conduct balloting and celebrate the winners.

  • Best sense of humor
  • Most willing to trade or cover a shift
  • Best at starting an IV
  • All-star mentor
  • Best at documenting
  • Biggest smile
  • Most creative scrubs
  • Best makeup at 6 a.m.

Don’t forget to give everyone an award for willingness to put in the hard work. Let us know what you come up with by emailing us at

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