Hands opening a small nurse gift on a blue table.

Nurses Week: Gifts Nurses Want vs. What They Receive

May Baker
April 29, 2022

Nurse Appreciation Week 2022 is coming up soon! We’ve compiled a list of the unpopular gifts nurses receive vs. what would really make them feel appreciated, along with some other ideas to show admiration to your favorite healthcare heroes. Read on to see if you agree about the best and worst Nurse Appreciation Week gifts.

When is National Nurses Week?

National Nurses Week, also known as Nurse Appreciation Week, takes place every May from the 6th-12th, ending on Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

How do Businesses Celebrate National Nurses Week?

Many businesses including Crocs, Dunkin Donuts, and Chipotle are known to show nurses love with the gift of freebies and discounts. Healthcare facilities show their support too, though the appreciation can range from fantastic to cheesy.

More than $9.5 billion is estimated to be wasted on unwanted gifts.

Are the freebies and discounts as glorious as they sound? Let’s find out how nurses feel about them and what gifts they actually want from companies and healthcare facilities. We’ll also provide some alternative gift ideas for nurses with busy schedules.

Gifts Nurses Want vs. What They Get

You Are What You Eat?

Gifts nurses want for nurse week: healthy gift baskets.

Gifts nurses get: Leftover pizza or stale donuts

Gifts nurses want: Uninterrupted lunch breaks

A running joke in the nursing community is the type and quality of food brought in the breakroom that’s often shared between the day and night shifts. Yes, we do love food, but the sentiment would be more meaningful if it were a proper lunch with a complete, uninterrupted break to eat it. If you are what you eat, let’s support healthier options.  

What you can do instead

An alternative for businesses to better adapt to nurses’ needs is to give out gift bags with healthier, on-the-go snacks. Also, take into consideration the diets of nurses on the unit. Not everyone has a sweet tooth and some may have allergies.  

Gifts from the Supply Room?

Gifts nurses want for nurse week: quality and functional swag.

Gifts nurses get: Hand sanitizer, lip balm, and other items found in the supply room

Gifts nurses want: Something thoughtful that we can’t grab on break

Though helpful and necessary, these gifts of convenience feel impersonal and rushed. The unintended message is that nurses don’t deserve gifts that require energy or planning. Most nurses would rather have no gift than one that makes them feel unimportant, and certainly not the same items found in our supply room.  

What you can do instead

Gifts for nurses don’t have to be expensive, but putting a little effort into a gift such as a stainless steel tumbler or an insulated lunch box goes a long way. Personalization is a thoughtful way to help each nurse feel seen and valued, too.  

No More Branded Junk, Please!

Gifts nurses want for nurse week: useful branded gifts and tumblrs.

Gifts nurses get: Pens and hospital logo badge reels

Gifts nurses want: A free set of scrubs

Many nurses love pens, but I wouldn’t consider this a gift. Facility-branded tote bags, umbrellas, and t-shirts don’t count either.  

What you can do instead

A quality set of scrubs are expensive, and a free set every year from employers would be a real treat.

Could I Get a Side of Cash with That?

Gifts nurses get: A free meal ticket to our very own hospital cafeteria

Gifts nurses want: A pay bonus  

Give the people what they want. It doesn’t have to be gigantic.  

What you can do instead

An increase in hourly pay during nurse’s week or a flat bonus is the easiest way for a company to show their gratitude.

Advantis Medical Staffing looks out for clinicians’ wallets by sharing discounts and special offers in our regular emails to help our travelers save money year-round.

The Heart of the Matter  

Gifts nurses want for nurse week: heartfelt appreciation boards.

Gifts nurses get: A “Thank You Nurses” email

Gifts nurses want: Sincere appreciation

It’s called Nurse Appreciation Week for a reason. Feeling valued by our patients, co-workers, and administrators matters. It should go beyond a vague “thank you” email sent to every nurse in the hospital.  

What you can do instead

  1. Walk around to patients and have them provide a statement for a nurse they want to recognize.  
  1. Compile a list and spend time crafting a display so nurses are reminded that their hard work makes a difference. Personal notes from staff and patients have a lot of power to lift spirits.  
  1. Feel free to leave it up in the hallway or breakroom and add to it all year long.

The Best Gifts for Nurses Aren’t Tangible  

Truth be told, while we appreciate a week dedicated to the selfless care we provide, we don’t do it for gifts or recognition. Nursing is a labor of compassion and what we most want is a supportive environment to perform at our best. This includes safe staffing and ratios, work/life balance, functioning equipment, proper PPE, and an employer that protects us.  

The International Council of Nurses theme for 2022 is “invest in nursing” to build a resilient, highly qualified nursing workforce and to protect nurses’ rights. Nurses who feel supported in their roles equate to excellent patient care and a thriving healthcare system.

Advantis Medial Staffing loves making our travel nurses and staff feel valued. During National Nurses Week, we send our travelers a thoughtful gift as a reminder that the life-saving care they provide does not go unnoticed. And because you give time, care, and energy to others every single day, our Nurse Care Team and Recruiters are dedicated to making you feel valued all year long. On this Nurse Appreciation Week, and every week, thank you for all you do.

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