This week we pause to remind ourselves that even amid all the natural and manmade turmoil afflicting this planet, we Americans have many things to be grateful for. Whatever items are on each of our personal thank you lists this Thursday, let's not forget the amazing, sometimes heroic accomplishments of the world's health care workers.

Happily, we have a new way of recognizing those outstanding individuals with the launch of the REAL Awards. The awards are designed to develop greater respect and appreciation for the lifesaving care provided by health care professionals here in the United States and around the world. Save the Children and the Frontline Workers Coalition created the awards to increase awareness and understanding of "the universal and urgent need for more trained and supported, caring workers on the frontlines."

You have until Nov. 29 to nominate inspiring U.S.-based health care workers in a number of categories: newborn and mother care, pediatric care, chronic disease care, hospice care, emergency care, in-home care and general health worker.

Then, from Nov. 30 to Jan. 7, the public can visit the awards website to vote for the most inspirational health workers in each category. The U.S. honorees will be announced on Jan. 16. In addition to the recognition received, the winners will be invited to Save the Children's Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., in April.

"Health care workers are often overworked and underappreciated," the REAL Awards organizers said in a statement announcing the program. "We need to remind the public that people everywhere depend on health workers everyday ... It's time we give these men and women from all over the world the recognition and respect they deserve."

Let me also mention that Hospitals & Health Networks features an article in every issue of the magazine called "The Extra Mile," in which we profile an American health care professional who goes above and beyond his or her job description to improve the health and wellness of a community. To read the November Extra Mile, click here. To suggest someone you think we should profile, email mweinstock@healthforum.com.