Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Nurse Jennifer Glass recently started an NICU beading project – not for parents and babies but for her fellow RNs. Over the last couple weeks she has managed to string beads for about 75% of the unit’s nurses. Jennifer, who has worked in the NICU for over 12 years, shares with us in her own words why she started the project and about the importance of acknowledging the accomplishments of her fellow nurses.

The original idea for the beads started when a colleague experienced her first bereavement patient. I believe this is one of the most difficult and emotionally draining experiences we deal with as NICU nurses and I felt like I should be able to recognize this nurse for the fantastic job she did for both the baby and family. I knew that many families in our unit participate in the journey bead program, and thought why can’t nurses have beads too?!

It’s a way of recognizing those skills that are specific to the NICU that we draw on a daily basis to guide our care. My hope is that the nurses I work with will be proud of their beads.

For nurses that have worked in the NICU for a long time, it’s a way of saying “look what you’ve learned and how you have contributed to the NICU over the years.” For our newer nurses, it’s a way of recognizing how far they have come in the time they have worked in the NICU and gives them goals to work towards. As I’ve been making the beads, often a nurse will say to me “I won’t have any beads” or “look how small my beads are.” My response to them is look how many beads you already have in the short time you’ve worked here. Three nurses on a unit interacting At no point did I want anyone to feel bad about their beads. My intent was to honour each nurse by recognizing her achievements, regardless of how many beads exist.

Each bead is important and something to be celebrated as it means you are growing and learning and engaging in the unit you work. In the busy nursing world, we often don’t have time to acknowledge the skills we learn and the commitments we make to improve our work environment. I thought it was time that we recognize each other, RN to RN!