Nurse with arms crossed smiling, female doctor wearing mask, female doctor giving an exam to a child

5 Ways You Can Thank Nurses during National Nurse Appreciation Week

Yesterday was the official start of National Nurse Appreciation Week, and in the whirlwind of the CoronaVirus, it’s more important than ever to show nurses how much we appreciate their commitment to the profession. Anyone who has ever stayed at a hospital – most of us, I imagine – has been in the capable of hands of a nurse, possibly even holding the hand of a nurse while an ER doctor removes a butter knife from your leg after a Thanksgiving mishap (this is a universal experience, right?). Nurses constantly work long, thankless hours. It’s not uncommon for healthcare professionals to be pushing 12-hour shifts, an estimate that’s only grown exponentially in recent months. So in light of their Appreciation Week, we’ve compiled a list of ways for you to show the nurses in your life that you care:

5. Give the Gift that Keeps on Giving: Caffeine and Snacks

Working one of the most stressful jobs in America leaves many nurses extremely tired. Although they may seem superhuman, nurses are also subject to sleep deprivation and hunger pangs. Help them get through the day with some coffee and snacks! Granola bars, chocolate, muffins – trust me when I say that a little food and caffeine can brighten anyone’s day after a grueling shift. Starbucks gift cards are a welcome gift as well!

4. Thank You Notes

Sometimes, it helps just to know that someone appreciates everything you do. Consider buying or making a card for a nurse who helped you get back on your feet, writing a note filled with all the little things he or she did to help you. Much of the help that nurses provide can be emotional labor as well as physical, so knowing that someone appreciates their bedside manner can be an energizing acknowledgment of their efforts. 

3. Learn the Historical Importance of Nurses

Nurse Appreciation Week ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. During the Crimean War, Florence and a team of nurses improved unsanitary conditions at a British hospital by massively reducing the infection rate among wounded soldiers, ultimately reducing the death count by two-thirds. Her writings sparked worldwide healthcare reform. Since then, we have expanded our understanding of effective healthcare and bacterial infection. 

2. Practice Social Distancing 

Despite the fact that states are now opening back up, you can help nurses best by maintaining a safe social distance and continuing to wear face masks out in public. Continue to wash your hands liberally and use hand sanitizer when you can, and most significantly, take care of yourself if you think you’re getting ill. The point of “flattening the curve” is to ensure that nurses can help everyone, and not just a few people, when they get sick with COVID-19.

1. Support Healthcare Worker Reforms

It’s extremely likely that healthcare workers are going to demand increased protections for themselves in the wake of the pandemic. They should, after all: nurses are the most exposed to the virus, and they’ve needed to make many sacrifices to keep caring for the sick and the injured. The best thing you can for nurses, by far, is to support healthcare worker legislation that will arise.