In the last year, nurses have gone from healthcare heroes to exhausted workers who have been sued by their own employers for trying to leave their jobs. It’s never been easy to be a nurse, but in today’s resource-strapped healthcare world, it can be even more challenging.
So if you’re looking for a way to show your appreciation to a special nurse in your life this Nurses Week, we’ve rounded up the best Nurses Week celebration ideas. (And no, it doesn’t include gifting them rocks, which is an actual, real thing that some hospitals did for nurses last year and this is why nurses need raises y’all.)
Looking for a gift for the special nurse in your life? Read this article: Best Gifts For Nurses 2023.
1. Support nurses
The most important thing healthcare employers and even the public can do to support nurses during nurse’s week go far beyond a cute tumbler or gift cards. Nurses don’t really want that. So, what do nurses want? For starters, safe staffing would be nice! Better mental health resources at work and a safe work environment would be great.
For many years, nurses have been struggling – and the pandemic accelerated those struggles. Now, in 2022 nurses need better access to mental health resources on the job, safe staffing, higher pay, and work environments where they can feel safe from violence and bullying. If you care about nurses, the bare minimum you can do is to support legislation that has nurses’ best interests in mind! Don’t see such legislation in your area? Contact your representatives and urge them to support legislation that will help nurses.
2. Sponsor a unit luncheon
Food is always the way to a nurse’s heart (I mean, isn’t it the way to all of our hearts??), and there’s no better treat to an overworked, understaffed unit than hearing the words: “Hey, there’s [insert favorite local restaurant name here] in the break room!”
If you let the restaurant know you’re ordering for Nurses’ Week, they may even offer you a discount, so don’t be shy.
3. Don’t forget the night shift
Night shift often gets forgotten during those unit luncheons, so if you can, work with a restaurant that will deliver or prep some food you can drop off for the night shift nurses. This might take some planning and creativity, but night shift deserves some meal love too!
4. Book a brunch
One great food gift idea is to sponsor a brunch that can hit both night and day shifts—call up a local coffee shop and see if you can get a discount for a spread that includes coffee, bagels, pastries, and more. Just maybe leave the mimosas out of this brunch, sorry!
5. Give a gift (they actually want!)
Gifts, large and small are always appreciated during nurses’ week (as long as it’s not a rock!)
>> Need gift ideas? Check out our article 50 Best Gifts For Nurses!
Small gestures can make a big impact on nurses, and bedside nurses can appreciate small gifts that actually make a difference. If For instance, small gift bags filled with Chapstick, hand lotion, or gift cards for coffee would be things nurses could actually use.
6. Drop off a unit gift basket
Along the same lines, if you don’t have the time or resources to whip up individual gift baggies—which is understandable–consider simply dropping off or ordering a giant unit gift basket. It can be filled with goodies that you want or pre-order one from a local shop or Amazon. Then, nurses can pick and choose what they like the best. Think things like coffee pods, compression socks, individually-wrapped cookies, or lotions,
7. Deliver a gift card bouquet
Sure, flowers are great, but a gift card bouquet could be even greater. Get together with friends, families, or even local businesses to put together an assortment of various gift cards to deliver to a unit. Then, nurses can pluck their favorite card, so it’s freshly picked and ready, just for them. Again, this is a great opportunity to approach local businesses and let them know you’re supporting Nurses’ Week and your local nurses and try to get some gift card donations. You never know how many gift cards you’ll be able to solicit!
8. Send a thank you card
It might not be possible to send an individual thank you card to every nurse that you’ve encountered who has helped you, nor do you always remember their names, but it’s still possible to show your gratitude. You can pen a thank-you card and mail it snail mail style to the hospital with as many details as you can remember, such as, “For the night shift nurse with brown hair who worked on December 12, 2021, and helped me with my pain medicine, thank you!” Address it to the unit and chances are, someone will figure it out.
9. Email administrators about nurses doing a great job
On a related note, if you don’t want to send a thank you card in the mail, email managers or hospital administrators can go a long way for nurses to get recognized. If there’s a nurse you love working with, one who has gone above and beyond, or just a nurse you want to thank, email their unit manager or even the hospital’s CEO to let them know. Nurses deserve recognition for doing an outstanding job!
10. Use the hospital’s nurse recognition program
Most hospitals have some sort of in-house recognition program for recognizing employees. There may be a form in the patient rooms or located around the hospital that you can fill out to recognize an employee doing a great job. These in-house forms can make a big difference in nurses’ evaluations and come with rewards like gift cards or PTO, so if you see them, use `em.
11. Volunteer (if appropriate)
Obviously, not every unit will allow or even appreciate volunteers (ICU, we’re looking at you), but if the hospital offers any volunteer opportunities, take them to ease some of the burdens off of nurses’ shoulders right now. Volunteer opportunities could include anything from stocking linens to visiting patients to prepping supplies, such as new parent gift bags. Check with your hospital’s HR for volunteer opportunities.
12. Get involved in community events
Make your presence known at hospital-sponsored events or events that the hospital is involved in. Just getting involved more can help support the hospital or facility that nurses work at, thus improving their working conditions.
13. Get involved in the nurses’ union
It might not be as fun as a gift basket, but getting involved in your local nurses’ unions can help boost nurses’ morale, improve working conditions, and get voices heard. If you really want to help nurses, getting on the frontlines is a great way to do it.
14. Keep it simple
If you’re a nurse manager or someone tasked with creating the perfect Nurses’ Week gift, think simple. Cute tags and sayings might look pretty on Pinterest, but to the exhausted nurse coming off their 4th 12-hour shift in a row, it’s not going to be that cute. Just go straight to the gift card and don’t worry about making it Pinterest-worthy. Take the money you would have spent and add it to the gift card!
15. Do one big gift giveaway
Another option for nurse managers or those in charge of coming up with nurse week ideas is to skip the small gifts and instead, offer one large gift giveaway. Even if all of the nurses can’t take home the grand prize, they may appreciate a larger gesture. For instance, give away something useful like a grocery giveaway, car detailing, night away at a hotel, or a spa gift card.
16. Send a nurse our way
Know a nurse with a phenomenal story? One who created an incredible business? A nurse giving back in incredible ways? Let us recognize them! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might feature your nurse’s story!
17. Drop off a donation
Check with your hospital’s unit or manager before making any donations of any kind, but some units may appreciate a donation. For instance, a long-term care facility might appreciate activities like puzzles or craft supplies, a pediatric unit might benefit from crayons or Legos, and some units may even let you donate some gently-used books that nurses can take home for their own R&R.
18. Send an E-card
Remember cards? While they can be meaningful, they’re not always practical. But if you have two minutes and a phone or computer, you can make a nurses’ day with a free and easy e-card.
19. Send an E-gift card
Speaking of e-cards, there are a lot of options for sending gift cards via email these days too. My go-to is always Starbucks because I can do it right from the app, it racks up points for my own account (hey, I like coffee too), and it takes seconds. Other vendors that allow e-gift cards include GrubHub, Amazon, Visa, Apple, and of course, Visa and Mastercard.
20. Just say “thank you”
The next time you’re working a shift and encounter a nurse you love being with, or utilizing a healthcare service when you come into contact with a nurse who makes the process easier, just try offering your sincere thanks to your co-workers or the nurses taking care of you. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to show gratitude and we guarantee that saying thanks will make both you and the nurses around you happier. Because honoring nurses–who are the very backbone of healthcare—is a win for everyone.