Did you hear about the Nurses Week rock?
Apparently, nurses at a hospital in California we won’t name here were surprised with a very ‘special’ Nurses Week gift this year: a rock. Well, more of a pebble actually. Seriously.
It came with a little note exhorting them “to paint an image, a word, or a phrase of encouragement or wisdom” on it “as a reminder that the work you do ROCKS!” No, they didn’t get a sharpie to go with it either.
Every year, new examples of sucky Nurses Week gifts do the rounds, and every year some healthcare company somewhere manages to set a whole new standard of suckiness. And every year, we here at NurseRecruiter.com commit to being better than that, and worry about whether our own Nurses Week efforts match up. Did we succeed this year? You tell us!
We did two things this year: we worked with Support Our Scrubs to help them deliver free t-shirts, coffee and snacks to Dallas nurses. And we organized a daily Nurses Week Giveaway, helping nurses treat themselves or their favorite colleagues to a whole range of gifts, which we carefully selected by listening to suggestions raised by nurses themselves!
Support Our Scrubs
Just like last year, we decided to help the helpers! Crystella McIvor, the mother of a Texas nurse, has been simultaneously supporting nurses and local businesses ever since the scale of the pandemic became clear. She has created a whole network of donors and business partners which helped her bring meals, drinks and presents to local nurses.
With our $1,000 donation, she brought a whole cart full of custom coffees and cakes to the healthcare workers at Children’s Medical Center Dallas last Wednesday. Her team also used our donation to distribute free “Essential” t-shirts of their own design to the nurses there. They distributed even more free t-shirts to healthcare workers participating in the free yoga classes they organize in collaboration with Sarah Shiplett Yoga in Allen, TX. (We recommend their online yoga video library!)
Daily Nurses Week Giveaway
Among so many terrible gifts, what kind of present do nurses appreciate? We scoured posts and threads and comments on nursing forums and accounts for ideas, only to find we couldn’t choose. So instead, we presented new gifts every day!
For good measure, on the last day of Nurses Week we left the choice of gift up to you — you could suggest anything you wanted within the price range, as long as it was legal. 😉
We picked a bunch of winners every day, and kept the rules to a minimum. In the end, we sent out some seventy individual presents to nurses around the country. Some nurses even won more than once, nominating their favorite nurse before asking something for themselves as well!
Here’s what we sent out:
- 21 snarky adult coloring books for nurses by Morgana Skye
- 10 meme-tastic badge reels with Baby Yoda or the “It’s Fine” dumpster fire, created by ICU nurse Crystal Coffman
- 9 fun and educational Giant Microbes gift boxes with blood cell plushies
- 7 sets of built-to-last NurseTribe penlights — the single best-reviewed nursing penlights we could find (with a lifetime guarantee!)
- 5 autographed copies of Nurstoons: The Art of Nursing 2
- 4 BadgeGuru Sets of 26 badge-sized reference cards, densely packed with vital information
- 3 Breeze Report Books from the nurse-run business Moxie PRN
- 5 cash gifts or gift cards, and 5 individual presents which you chose yourselves on the final day
This Nurses Week Giveaway wasn’t just about the gifts though — it was also about the kindness you showed each other, and the stories you shared.
Every day, we were clear: we believe in self-care, so if you liked the gift we were sending out that day, you weren’t to even hesitate for a moment to ask for one for yourself! God knows you deserve it. As Twitter user Jlswims summarized it in just nine words, “I nominate myself for working throughout Covid and surviving”. That’s enough reason if there ever was one.
But we also gave you an opportunity to do something else: we would send your favorite nurse — or the nurse you admire most, or a nurse you knew could really do with a gesture of recognition — a special gift on your behalf.
Some of the responses were terribly moving, and for some of the nurses you nominated, I dare say the greatest gift wasn’t the one we would send out, but the thoughtfulness of your tributes. Take Sammie Puckett, for example, who nominated her nursing director:
I would like to nominate my nursing director, Denise Litano, who is moving on to other opportunities after this week😭. She has been an amazing leader, mentor, and of course is an awesome nurse … I think this would be a great way to celebrate her during nurse’s week. She without a doubt deserves recognition and to be rewarded for all of her hard work, time, and expertise used to turn this staff into a motivated team and also getting our surgery center in order AND credentialed!!
Courtney Collingham’s tribute encapsulated how a great working relationship can mean everything in nursing:
I would love to nominate a coworker who is not on any social media. She is everything I strive to be as a great nurse. She has motivated me to go back for my RN (after being an LPN for 13 years), she is like a soul sister. In emergencies we are in a groove that no words need to be said, we just know what needs to be done and do it in rhythm. She is a hospice nurse, worked oncology. She is going back to get her masters for teaching and I believe she will be amazing at shaping the future nurses into compassionate caregivers.
Some of the tributes hinted at just how hard a job many nurses do — and how the Covid-19 crisis added a whole new layer to the challenges they have to adjust to.
Quanisha Shannon, for example, described how her sister is a public health nurse in a NYC public school who “was misplaced in a NYC Level 1 Trauma center” when the Covid-19 epidemic broke out. “She showed up everyday and helped the nurses with their patients,” she recounted: “She had no hospital training but was willing to learn in order to help the patients”. And Twyla Susan nominated Holly Werstein, RN, NP, who works in correctional nursing:
She [is] the only psych provider for approximately 400 inmates with mild to severe MH (out of a total population of 1700). She is totally dedicated and loves her patients and work — though it is incredibly stressful! She is also the on-call psych provider 24/7 for this facility!
But if we had to choose, our favorite entries were the ones that illustrated the team spirit of great nurses: when someone nominated a teammate, only to have them immediately chime in to return the favor.
The collegiality of good nurses extends even beyond one’s own colleagues, Vicky Alfree demonstrated. When school nurse Kristin Mueller asked for the “adorable” blood cell plushies because “I’m a school nurse in elementary and these would be so cool to help teach the kids in 5th grade what the different parts of their blood look like,” Vicky Alfree posted a separate comment to second that nomination, expressing her gratitude and thanks “to all these hard-working school nurses”.
If there’s one message to take away from Nurses Week, it surely must be this: after the hardest year in nursing, when many nurses did not receive the support and protection they needed when it mattered most, nurses who stand by each other and have each other’s back is everything!