Last Updated on April 26, 2023 by Luke Feldbrugge
The circumstances when you have the opportunity to say “thank you nurses” are often when you, or your family, are facing illness or poor health. Suddenly there are healthcare workers you’ve never met before, taking care of you, and you feel enormous gratitude. A nurse often provides medicine for your body and soul, helping to reduce your pain but also your fear.
Nationally, we gained a new appreciation for nurses on the front lines during the pandemic. You remember the photos–nurses wrapped in layers of protective clothing taking care of sick people on a scale none of us ever imagined. They stepped up and risked their own health to save others. At that point, we saw that front line healthcare heroes are our neighbors, our friends and members of our family.
There are no shortages of opportunities to thank nurses as a nation. There are at least 30 days, weeks or months dedicated to thanking and appreciating the nursing profession during the year. The centerpiece of all of that appreciation is National Nurses Week in the first week of May.
Nurse Appreciation Week or National Nurses Week
Sponsored and promoted by the American Nurses Association, the week-long event highlights the crucial contributions that nurses make to the community.The first National Nurses Week took place in 1954 in honor of the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s groundbreaking work caring for wounded British soldiers in the Crimean War. National Nurses Week became an annual event in 1990 and is held the week of May 6th through May 12th so that it concludes on the birthday of Florence Nightingale.
Here are a few ways to say Happy Nurse Appreciation Week:
- Snacks – Dropping by a hospital or clinic with baked goods in the morning (or chocolate at night) is a great way to show appreciation for nursing staff. Remember, a nurse will typically walk 4-5 miles during a 12-hour shift.
- Caffeine – Either sending good coffee or sending coffee cards for local stores is a good way to keep nurses going before, during and after long shifts.
- Notes – Handwritten notes of appreciation go a long way to saying thank you. If you have nurses who have been invaluable to a family member, why not a family thank you message for nurses? A thank you letter to a nurse is also a nice old fashioned gesture.
- Donation – most hospitals are constantly looking for donations and support. A donation to a healthcare facility in the name of the nurse who helped you is a concrete way to say thank you.
- Community Response – The more people involved, the more your appreciation shows through. Getting a local group – e.g. a Rotary Club, a Lions Club, a Chamber of Commerce – organized to show appreciation for nurses is a very visible gesture.
We weren’t kidding when we said there are a lot of ways to thank nurses throughout the year. This is a rather complete list of months, weeks and days to celebrate nurses.
National Recognition of Nurses Year Round
- National CRNA Week (Jan. 23-29) is the annual celebration of the more than 59,000 practicing nurse anesthetists in the U.S.
- National IV Nurse Day (Jan. 25) recognizes the continuing education, advocacy, and professional development that have driven the infusion specialty and IV nurses. It’s sponsored by the Infusion Nurses Society.
- Ambulatory Care Nursing Week (Feb. 7-13) is a new one, with its first celebration in 2022. Ambulatory nurses work in primary and specialty care outpatient venues, non-acute surgical and diagnostic outpatient settings in the community, and during telehealth encounters.
- PeriAnesthesia Nurse Awareness Week (Feb. 7-13) celebrates nurses who work in preanesthesia and postanesthesia care, ambulatory surgery, and pain management.
- Critical Care Transport Nurses Day (Feb. 18) is sponsored by the Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association as a way to recognize the special skills of nurses who help move critical patients.
- Certified Nurses Day (March 19) is all about nurse certification and standards. It’s sponsored by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the day celebrates “healthcare leaders dedicated to nursing professionalism, excellence, recognition, and service.”
- GI Nurses & Associates Week (March 20-26) is a week sponsored by the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates. They have a downloadable flyer with ideas to celebrate the week.
- Radiological and Imaging Nurses Day (April 12) celebrates nurses who help patients who are undergoing various tests using ultrasound, CT scans, MRI, PET scans, or fluoroscopy. They have a deep understanding of both patients and the advanced technology needed to diagnose illness.
- WOC Nurse Week (April 17-23) is a week to thank nurses who specialize in wound, ostomy, and continence care.
- Transplant Nurses Week (April 25-May 2) is sponsored by the International Transplant Nurses Society, which has a whole page of resources (letters, email, bulletin boards) you can use to thank these nurses. #transplantnursesweek
- Oncology Nursing Month (May) is a month dedicated to appreciating oncology nurses. If you’ve ever suffered from cancer, or had a family going through chemotherapy, you know how important these nurses are. The Oncology Nursing Society makes it easy to nominate a nurse for a number of awards.
- National Nurses Day (May 6) is the beginning of National Nurses Week, and it raises awareness of the vital role that nurses play in our lives and in society. The week ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12.
- National School Nurse Day (May 6) is also part of National Nurses week. School nurses face unique challenges and this day is set aside to “foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.”
- International Nurses Day (May 12) is celebrated world wide. Sponsored by the International Council of Nurses, they have a comprehensive page of resources (posters, social media graphics, digital media guidelines, etc.) to help you show your appreciation to all nurses.
- National Nurses Week (May 6-12) is sponsored by the American Nurses Association. The ANA also celebrates National Nurses Month throughout May. They have a timeline tracing the history of the week of appreciation.
- Neuroscience Nurses Week (May 15-21) recognizes nurses in this specialty for an entire week. The American Society of Neuroscience Nurses has a whole page of things you can do to show your appreciation.
- Vascular Nurses Week (Sept. 5-11) is a week sponsored by the Society of Vascular Nursing, which has a bunch of proclamations you can use to promote vascular nursing.
- National Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Day (Sept. 8) celebrates the nurses who combine their medical expertise with “compassion and sensitivity for children, adolescents, young adults and their families.”
- Nephrology Nurses Week (Sept. 11-17) honors the nurses who work with kidney disease. The American Nephrology Nurses Association has an online toolkit to promote the week.
- Nursing Professional Development Week (Sept. 11-17) celebrates the ongoing professional development that nurses pursue throughout their careers. This week honors those who help train the nurses who care for us. The Association of Nursing Professional Development has a sophisticated toolkit for celebrating the week.
- National Neonatal Nurses Week (Sept. 12-18) recognizes the effort of nurses who serve the tiniest patients and their families. The National Association of Neonatal Nurses is encouraging people to make videos thanking the nurses who have helped them.
- Pediatric Nurses Week (Oct. 3-7) promotes pediatric nursing and the nurses dedicated to the health of children. They have a social media photo contest and use the hashtag #ProudPediatricNurse.
- Emergency Nurses Day (Oct. 12) and Emergency Nurses Week (Oct. 9-15) celebrate the grit and resilience of emergency room nurses. It’s sponsored by the Emergency Nurse Association which also supports professional development and gives awards to outstanding emergency nurses.
- Orthopedic Nurses Day (Oct. 30) celebrates the contributions of orthopedic nurses. It is sponsored by the National Orthopedic Nurses Association.
- Medical-Surgical Nurses Week (Nov. 1-7) is hosted by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and in its 30th year. They have an app that lets these nurses access “fun, prizes, giveaways, surprises, support, and education.”
- Urology Nurses and Associates Week (Nov. 1-7) shows appreciation for nurses who provide guidance and treatment for a variety of urologic diseases and concerns. They specialize in such areas as continence care, male/female sexual dysfunction, infertility, oncology, surgery, cystoscopy, and urodynamics.
- Forensic Nurses Week (Nov. 6-12) honors nurses who address the acute and long-term health consequences of patients impacted by violence. The association provides training and support for registered nurses who want to become Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.
- National Nurse Practitioner Week (Nov. 13-19) offers many opportunities to recognize “the NP role and increase awareness of the exceptional care that NPs provide.” A resource guide for the week is available through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
- Perioperative Nurses Week (Nov. 13-19) celebrates nurses who help before, during and after surgery. It’s hosted by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, which seeks to “establish a national community for operating room nurses who seek to share best practices for patients undergoing surgery.”
As all these celebrations indicate, there are a wide variety of nurses out there, covering every level of specialty. The following is a list of types of nurses and why you should thank them.
A Taxonomy of Nursing (for saying “thank you nurses”)
Registered Nurses (RN) are responsible for a wide array of healthcare practices. If you listed them all, it would be long. They “provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.” Roles they can pursue include:
- Ambulatory nurses
- Critical care nurses
- Specialty nurses
- Rehabilitation nurses
- Nurse educator
National Nurse Week is probably the best time to thank them for their service. A handwritten note thanking them and reminding them of your connection will warm their hearts.
Licensed Practical Nurses
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) work in all kinds of settings including healthcare centers, hospitals and nursing homes. They provide routine care, observe patients’ health, assist doctors and registered nurses, and communicate instructions to patients.
To thank the LPN in your life, a note is great, but it might be more creative to come up with snacks you can give a whole team.
Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) work on the very practical side of healthcare, taking care of a patient’s physical needs by:
- Answering call buttons
- Alerting nurses to emergencies
- Monitoring patients
- Reporting issues to other healthcare personnel
- Helping patients with their daily needs, such as eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting
- Changing bedding, filling water jugs, and positioning items so they are in reach
- Repositioning patients in beds
- Helping patients move from a bed to a chair or wheelchair and back
- Assisting with lifting patients from their bed to examination tables, surgical tables, or stretchersAs you might guess, this is tough work. This might be time to break out the gift cards or coffee cards to say thank you.
Clinical Nurse Specialists
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) typically occupy leadership roles among nursing staff. They also provide direct patient care by working with other nurses and staff to improve the quality of care a patient receives. They often educate and advise other nursing staff.
When sending a thank you note for nurses, send a copy to the administrators of the healthcare facility so they can recognize the leaders in the organization and reward/promote them appropriately.
Nurse Anesthetists provide pain medication for patients going into surgery. They administer medications to keep patients asleep or pain-free during surgery and constantly monitor every biological function of the patient’s body. Their skills include:
- Preparing patients for anesthesia, including physical assessment and instructions
- Administering anesthesia to a patient
- Maintaining anesthesia during an operation
- Managing recovery from anesthesia
Nurse Anesthetists also typically have an advanced degree in addition to being an RN. In the armed forces, and many rural hospitals, nurse anesthetists are the primary administrator for anesthesia in the surgery. The best way to thank them is to tell the hospital’s medical director about the standard of care you received from the nurse anesthetist.
Medical-Surgical Nurses are the ones you often see in the medical dramas–the ones standing next to the surgeons in the operating rooms. Also known as a perioperative nurse or operating room nurse, they focus on pre- and postoperative care for a patient. They also set up a surgical room for operations, manage the tools for operations, and apply bandages during surgeries. They are probably the first face you see when you wake up from surgery.
They have their own week (Nov. 13-19) so that’s a great time to remember to thank them. Since it’s close to the holidays, cookies might be a good idea.
Emergency Room Nurses
Emergency Room Nurses (ER) work in high pressure environments to carefully evaluate and stabilize a patient. An ER nurse can determine proper medication administration as well as tend to basic wounds or ailments.
When thanking these professionals, you might want to break out the coffee cards or simply deliver a coffee traveler to the ER unit.
Home Health Nurses
Home Health Nurses travel to the patient’s home and monitor their health. In addition, they:
- Administer Medication
- Provide companionship
- Communicate patient information to doctors
In addition to maintaining good health, home health nurses help the patient stay independent in their homes to avoid hospitalization.
With their continued presence in your, or your loved one’s, home, there will be plenty of ways to thank them. Since companionship is a primary role for them, they may become part of your extended family during care. They will be sharing meals, so providing prepared food can be a real help.
Nurse Case Managers
Nurse Case Managers are registered nurses who evaluate and implement health care plans for patients. They are concerned with providing effective and efficient medical care while managing the costs of treatment. An RN Case Manager also acts as a liaison between patients, their families, doctors, and health care providers.
A note will go a long way to thanking these nurses, especially if you emphasize their organization and communication skills. You might want to include some nurse appreciation quotes in the message to add some inspiration.
Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Nurses
Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Nurses specialize in post-surgery care after the patient is recovering from anesthesia. They monitor vital signs, levels of consciousness, and carefully observe patients for any side effects from anesthesia. As with surgical nurses, a PACU nurse is probably the first face you see when you wake up.
This is a highly skilled specialization, so a sincere note will show that you remembered their care for you.
Telemetry Nurses monitor patients with heart disease, or other serious health problems, usually using an electrocardiogram. These nurses are prominent in ICU wards where they keep a close eye on patients who may have stabilized but still need close monitoring. They work with high risk patients, so they need to be able to assess, communicate and respond to the patient’s vital signs quickly.
These nurses need to go from zero to 60 at a moment’s notice, so coffee cards are going to be very welcome.
Nurse Managers manage nursing units and nursing personnel. They can also step in and work on the clinical side when the unit is short-staffed. Consequently, if the nurses caring for you are consistently amazing and conscientious, it’s probably, in part, because they have good leadership.
A note to the whole staff of nurses you encounter, calling out good management and leadership, will find its way into the hands of their manager and hospital administration.
Staff Nurses, like registered nurses, are expected to do it all. They welcome patients, provide bedside care, and give instructions for at-home care and medications. They have a lot of direct patient care and typically work in hospital environments– e.g. ICUs, emergency departments, childbirth and NICU units, medical-surgical units and pediatrics departments.
Since they spend a lot of their time with you or your family member, there will be plenty of opportunities to thank them. That said, a box of donuts 2 weeks after you are released from the hospital will remind them of how much help they provided for you and your family.
Dialysis Nurses are also known as nephrology nurses, and they work with patients who have acute or chronic kidney failure. They make sure dialysis machines are set up correctly and teach patients how to do home dialysis.
Since dialysis is an ongoing medical procedure, you are going to get to know your dialysis nurses pretty well. Thanking them with flowers or snacks will be greatly appreciated. Over time, as you get to know them better, you may find more specific ways to thank them.
Pediatric Nurses are both caretakers and educators, caring for children from infancy to young adulthood. As educators, pediatric nurses work with both young patients and their families to instruct on stages of development and healthy lifestyles. When working with the youngest patients, they need special communication skills and an ability to reduce the fears of ill children.
You and your family may have a long-term relationship with your pediatric nurse, so specific thanks–gift cards to their favorite restaurant–will show appreciation.
Labor and Delivery Nurses
Labor and Delivery Nurses deal with two patients at the same time: both mother and baby. There’s nothing more “hands on” than helping deliver a baby, but there is also a strong educational component before and after the delivery. During labor, they monitor fetal heartbeat and contractions. They also administer epidurals. They will act as coaches during birth and assist with any complications. Labor is a very emotional time, and these nurses are the calm voice in the middle of the storm.
The emotional connection you make with your delivery nurse is fast and intense. Texting photos of the baby as it progresses will add that personal touch that communicates your gratitude clearly.
Cardiovascular Nurses are the heart (pun intended) of the nursing profession. They monitor patients’ vital signs, prepare them for open-heart surgery, and administer medications. They also report their patients’ statuses to doctors and surgeons and communicate with families. The educational role they play stresses ongoing care and preventative care to keep cardiac patients on the road to recovery and healing.
The best way to thank a cardiovascular nurse is to heed their advice and:
- Quit smoking
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
Texting them from time to time informing them of your health progress will also communicate your thanks on a very personal level.
Radiology Nurses specialize in the field of radiology, which includes a wide range of diagnostics and testing, including:
- Computed Tomography (CT)
- Breast Imaging
- Diagnostic X-ray
- Nuclear Medicine and PET
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Interventional Radiology
- Oncology Radiology
They need an array of very technical skills, but they also need to be able to allay the fears and discomfort of patients facing serious health issues.
As part of a radiology team, a good way to thank these nurses is by sending the team snacks or baked goods.
School Nurses combine healthcare skills (first aid, emergency care) with counseling and education in a school setting. A quick look at their responsibilities is awe inspiring.
- First aid and assessment
- Care plans for students with chronic or acute health conditions
- Communication with teachers and staff regarding the well-being of students
- Administer medications and monitor delegated medication administration
- Evaluate students for Special Services (Special Education)
- Vision and hearing screenings
- Assist families with health insurance and health care services
- Educate and train staff about asthma, life threatening allergies, diabetes, and blood borne pathogens
In terms of sending appreciation to these nurses, flowers and gift cards will communicate your thanks for taking such good care of your kids. Also, remind your kids to thank them verbally whenever they receive care.
Oncology Nurses work with cancer patients. As such, they need to navigate through a lot of fear and anxiety. They administer chemotherapy medications, monitor patients and answer questions about scans and the ongoing progress against the disease. They typically establish close personal relationships with both the patient and the family during an often long and very traumatic journey. Oncology nurses have conversations day after day that few of us could face, so courage is a primary characteristic in these heroes.
Thanks to oncology nurses can come in the form of flowers or snacks. Notes work too. Whatever you choose, your thank you will come through loud and clear.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Nurses
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Nurses work with infants that are either premature or ill. These newborns and their families need support and comfort. NICU nurses also provide:
- Round-the-clock care
- Care for the basic needs of infants; e.g. feeding and changing diapers
- Medical procedures: tests, medications, intravenous lines, etc.
- Assistance to the NICU physicians
- Expertise in using specialized medical equipment
- Nursing plans and evaluations of the effectiveness of treatments
- Education for parents and family on at-home care of their newborns
Thanking NICU nurses in an already emotional environment probably comes naturally. In addition, sending photos and updates to the NICU nurses on your baby’s progress will help them feel appreciated and boost morale for the whole team.
Nurses Midwives are advanced registered nurses who help in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. The difference with midwives is they typically aid in labor and delivery for out-of-hospital settings. They work at all levels of the pregnancy journey, from prenatal visits to labor, delivery, and postpartum counseling.
Since they will be in your home more than once, thanking them with dinner might be a good way to thank these nurses. You could also send home baked goods. Gift cards based on their interests would also add a personal touch to your thank you.
Nurse Practitioners combine expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions with disease prevention and health management. They bring a comprehensive set of tools as well as a personal touch to health care. They provide primary care that is:
They have their own week–National Nurse Practitioner Week (Nov. 13-19)–but you can thank them all year with notes or gift cards or coffee cards.
The nursing profession attracts outstanding individuals dedicated to offering compassionate care to patients and their families. As a nurse, you spend your professional life improving the lives of others in what are often stressful and uncomfortable situations. Thank you for deciding to pursue a calling in nursing. Your efforts will touch the hearts of countless individuals throughout your career.
Nurse Discounts to Show Nurse Appreciation
A great way for businesses to say thank you nurses and to show their nurse appreciation is to offer a special nurse or healthcare worker discount or deal. Nurse discounts are a way of saying thank you for your service and sacrifice. Many businesses offer nurse discounts year-round, but some businesses only offer them during specific holidays or special observances. If you’re a business owner, consider offering a nurse discount or special deal. It’s a great way to show your support and give something back to those who serve us.
How Homes for Heroes Says Thank You Nurses
Homes for Heroes was created shortly after the events of 9/11 to give back to the heroes who serve and sacrifice for the rest of us. Thank you veterans, active-duty and reserve military members for your service and sacrifice.
$3,000 Average Savings When You Buy, Sell or Refinance
To thank you and other nurses, our real estate and mortgage specialists can save you an average of $3,000 when you buy, sell or refinance a home or mortgage. We take pride in the service our local specialists provide our nurses and other healthcare workers. Our specialists know your local community, understand how to navigate the housing and mortgage trends happening within it, and how to maximize the savings you can receive. They joined Homes for Heroes specifically to serve heroes like you and to thank you by saving you significant money when you close on a home or mortgage.
If you’re ready to begin the process of buying and/or selling a home. Or, if you’re in a place to refinance your mortgage, simply register online to speak with our local specialists to get your questions answered. There’s no obligation. We would be honored to assist you with your next home and/or mortgage.
Homes for Heroes Foundation Grants to Assist Nurses
To expand its Circle of Giving, Homes for Heroes, Inc., donates a portion of its earnings to the Homes for Heroes Foundation. So, every time a hero like you buys or sells a home using the Homes for Heroes program, you are helping heroes in need.
Here are two nonprofit organizations focused on helping homeless veterans and the Homes for Heroes Foundation was able to award them with Hero Grants to support their missions.
- Nurses House received a $10,000 grant from the Homes for Heroes Foundation. Nurses House helps nurses in their own home by offering financial housing assistance to nurses who are unable to work for a variety of reasons, or they can help with medical expenses for nurses facing challenges.
- The Colorado Nurses Foundation received a $10,000 grant to help advance the nursing profession through education, advocacy and recognition; including but not limited to scholarships and grants to make education more accessible to future nurses.
Grants from the Homes for Heroes Foundation are made possible by the Homes for Heroes Circle of Giving and its network of real estate professionals who are committed to providing savings on home and mortgage buy, sell and refinance transactions for firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, military (active, reserves and veterans), healthcare professionals and teachers.
Please take a moment to learn more about the Homes for Heroes Foundation and the grants it provides nonprofit organizations who help heroes in need, or simply to make a donation.
Homes for Heroes appreciates you and our country’s nurses for all you do to serve and assist others and whole-heartedly thank you for your service.