The DAISY Nurse Award: Overview and FAQ

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Written by Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Kerry Larkey, MSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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What does excellence in nursing mean to you? For many healthcare and nurse leaders, metrics like infection rates and surgery outcomes are quality markers for the care you deliver. But how do you quantify the small, intangible acts of kindness that make a big difference in a patient’s stay?

When a nurse goes the extra mile to deliver compassionate patient care, don’t let it go unnoticed. Recognize nurses for their hard work and attention to details by presenting them with the DAISY Award for Nurses. Here’s how to participate in the DAISY nurse award program to build morale and resilience within your organization — while helping you both inspire and retain your most valuable assets.

What Is the DAISY Foundation?

The DAISY Foundation was founded in 1999 by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, who observed the compassionate care nurses provided during his hospitalization. They created the acronym DAISY for “diseases attacking the immune system,” since Barnes himself suffered from an autoimmune disease.

The Barnes family created the DAISY Foundation as a way to express profound gratitude for the nurses who took care of their beloved family member. The program gives other families and healthcare staff a way to recognize nurses for exceeding their expected, everyday duties. The DAISY Nurse Award is implemented in over 5,000 healthcare facilities and schools of nursing worldwide.

What Are DAISY Awards?

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses recognizes nurses who exhibit excellence in nursing — both clinically and personally. It’s a way to recognize nurses who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and exemplified strong patient care. Clinical nurses, nursing faculty, and nursing students can be nominated for the DAISY award.

Leaders establish the criteria for a DAISY nurse award based on the organization’s mission and values. Anyone who notices a nurse’s display of excellence and compassion can nominate a nurse for a DAISY nursing award, including:

  • Patients
  • Families
  • Colleagues, such as other nurses, physicians, or clinical staff

Most facilities have a DAISY committee, typically assigned by a chief nursing officer (CNO), which implements the program. They review submissions, choose award recipients, and coordinate award ceremonies. Award ceremonies occur monthly, biannually, or quarterly, depending on the organization’s goals.

Participating facilities can also nominate nurses for the DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize those who have devoted their life’s work to compassionate care. Recipients of this award are typically recognized for their work as active mentors, role models, and patient advocates.

At an award ceremony, a presenter may read the submission recounting the act of kindness that the nurse demonstrated. It’s often a moving, heartfelt experience for everyone present.

How Do DAISY Awards Improve the Nursing Experience?

Healthcare organizations can incorporate the DAISY nurse award as a strategic tool for improving the nursing experience. It may be implemented as part of a plan to increase nurse recruitment, retention, and resilience by promoting meaningful recognition in nursing. This recognition, in turn, improves:

  • Nurse engagement. Experiencing recognition can ignite a nurse’s love for the profession and their commitment to providing compassionate care. This helps improve career satisfaction, which promotes retention. It can also contribute to nurse well-being and resilience.
  • The patient and family experience. Including families in organizational programs helps them have a more positive experience, particularly during difficult times. Family involvement promotes patient-and-family-centered care, a major contributor to patient satisfaction.
  • A healthy work environment. The DAISY program fosters a team environment by allowing colleagues to recognize one another. The award ceremony gives the team a chance to honor the DAISY nurse and reflect on the behavior that led to them receiving the award. This may inspire nurses to self-reflect on why they became nurses themselves.

What Is Meaningful Recognition in Nursing?

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) defines meaningful recognition in nursing as recognizing nurses and others for the value they bring to an organization. According to AACN, a healthy work environment starts with meaningful recognition, which improves a nurse’s experience by:

  • Feeling a sense of pride
  • Strengthening their loyalty to an organization
  • Deepening their commitment to the nursing profession

AACN advises healthcare organizations to have systems in place that recognize nurses meaningfully and individually. It should be a comprehensive system with formal processes in place that allow organizations to recognize all team members for the value they bring. Having a structured process helps to educate and encourage staff to participate in programs. A key to a successful program is having an evaluation system to make any necessary changes based on staff feedback.

How Can Healthcare Facilities Get Involved?

The DAISY Foundation asks that healthcare facilities participating in the program maintain a merit-based system that upholds the foundation’s values. Once enrolled, the foundation establishes an ongoing partnership with facilities. Together, you can customize the program based on your organization’s culture and values.

The foundation also provides ongoing support for facilities, from a guided implementation of the program to ensuring that they have the supply of program materials that they need. To see if your healthcare facility is one of the many DAISY partners, visit the DAISY Foundation’s participating organizations page.

Find More Ways to Increase Nurse Engagement

The DAISY nurse award is one way for facilities to recognize nurses for the compassionate care they provide so they feel seen and valued — which results in even better patient care. Stay in the loop and learn more ways to improve staff engagement through IntelyCare’s monthly newsletter.

To fully appreciate the DAISY Award and what it can mean for nurses and patients, here’s a look at one touching award ceremony for a DAISY honoree, a clinic nurse at UW Health.