Nurse midwife Diana Calano wears her Shield Athens PPE. Contributed by Diana Calano
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

How to thank a nurse on National Nurses Day

Judging by decades of Gallup polls, folks all over the world have always trusted and respected nurses. But for many, the COVID-19 pandemic is really reinforcing just how amazing nurses are. The public is in awe of the way nurses treat patients hospitalized with coronavirus complications and their willingness to report for duty in high-risk conditions.

» RELATED: National Nurses Week 2020: Free food deals

While we really can't ever thank nurses enough, National Nurses Day on May 6 is a prime opportunity to express appreciation for these superheroes of the worldwide community. Not sure how to go about that? While the thought certainly counts, it's even better to follow through with some of these suggestions:

A gift card to a restaurant/bar that offers curbside pickup. This is a practical suggestion from Mary Babel, who studied nursing in Jacksonville, Florida, and is now a registered nurse for a reproductive health nonprofit. "I am super busy with working full time and supervising e-learning for four kids," she says. "It’s nuts. A gift card would help."

A water tumbler. If you've got the time and resources, go for a glass that has "a special remark about being essential during COVID-19," Babel added. Some are snarky, others heartfelt like the "Because I'm essential" tumbler available on Etsy from CraftyChicksDesigns. The designs that note the year 2020 make the gift something to keep for posterity.

» RELATED: A brief history of #NationalNursesWeek

A grocery store gift card. Like the rest of the community, nurses are having a tough time paying for groceries, especially with kids out of school all day and eating everything in sight. Even nurses who aren't financially strapped will appreciate a free pantry stock-up. To show you really get the plight of nurses during a pandemic, consider buying a gift from a place that makes contact-free home deliveries. That way, your favorite nurse won't have to spend precious sleep or family hours contending with fellow shoppers and overworked staff at the store.

Travel size stuff, if applicable. Even more nurses than usual are working as travel nurses, on assignment to New York or other over-stressed pandemic areas. If the nurse you know is working away from home, a care package with any or many of the items needed for travel nursing would be welcome, according to the Gypsy Nurse blog. "Travel nurses are always on the go, so when purchasing something for the home, you should always think small," GN cautioned. "A few things that a traveler wouldn’t mind packing over and over would be travel door alarms, portable door locks, external battery chargers, collapsible containers or a travel size safe." 

» RELATED: Dunkin’ offering free doughnuts and coffee to nurses on May 6

Cell phone sanitizer. If the nurse you'd like to recognize is no-nonsense, this Nurses Day gift is 100% practical and comes recommended by Nurses.org. It allows nurses to sanitize their germ-harboring cell phones while they charge. In the age of coronavirus, that's one less thing to worry about as a possible source of contamination. And a cell phone sanitizer will be just as helpful when a nurse is trying to avoid those known germs that can be treated.

Compression socks. Sexy? Not really. But nurses toiling on their feet for 12-hour shifts will really appreciate socks that boost blood circulation and make feet a bit comfier. 

Collapsible leak-proof water bottle. Advanced Travel Nursing described this techie water bottle as a choice holiday gift, but they're also a great way to recognize nurses for National Nurses Week 2020. They'll make it a little easier for stressed nurses to stay hydrated, and they also collapse and stash in a small bag to lighten a nurse's load ... literally.

And if you’re worried you’ve missed your chance to celebrate your favorite nurse with a gift on May 6, remember that the commemorative week lasts until May 12, aka Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Besides, even if shipping delays your swag for weeks or even months, nurses are always going to be in need of appreciation. Any time is good!

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