Nursing is not the kind of profession one goes into seeking fame and prestige. Ask any of the nurses in your life, and they’ll all tell you the same story: It involves long hours and hard work, with little acknowledgement of the day-to-day sacrifices.
And yet, the overwhelming majority of nurses remain satisfied in their jobs, and are glad they became nurses, according to a 2016 Medscape study.That’s because, despite the stress and burnout, there’s a shared sense of purpose among those who work in healthcare. In addition to the time and energy they sacrifice to care for their patients, they also give up a bit of themselves to each patient who comes into their care. These are the moments we remember the most about the nurses we’ve encountered in our lives, whether as a patient or the loved one of a patient.
To give nurses the recognition they deserve, we’ve partnered with Dignity Health to share these six expressions of gratitude people wish they’d said to the compassionate and caring nurses in their lives.
1. “No kind gesture is too small to make a big difference in someone’s life.”
“When I was a child, my grandma Clara was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I would often travel with my mom and grandma to her chemotherapy appointments. The smiles and warmth that radiated from the nurses who cared for my grandma live on in my memory.
“On one particular visit, it was my 8th birthday. The nurses sang “Happy Birthday” and assisted with taking pictures of my family and me with my grandma. I was proudly holding my birthday cake with candles. I can still remember this time like it was yesterday.
“One lesson I have taken from that experience is that no kind gesture is too small to make a big difference in someone’s life. Being a nurse myself, I strive to bring this similar warmth to my patients at every touch!”
– Angie Hammond
2. “It meant a lot that you went beyond your duties as a nurse to show kindness to a fellow human being.”
“I was 18 and in a foreign country, attending seminary in Israel. I got dysentery from eating the food at seminary and was in the hospital for two weeks. This particular nurse was a favorite of mine because her native language, like mine, was English. The fact that she took time to talk to me and comfort me really stuck with me all these years. She was just genuinely caring and good.
“To that nurse: Thank you for that time you sat with me in the middle of the night and told me about your childhood in Wales when I was alone and frightened and couldn’t sleep. It meant a lot that you went beyond your duties as a nurse to show kindness to a fellow human being.”
– Varda Epstein
3. “This experience...still makes me cry, that she would take the time to listen and hold my hand.”
“I was in the hospital several times within a four-month period about 4 years ago due to some bleeding. A relative came to visit me in the hospital, and said that I should leave immediately because of insurance issues (which were ultimately resolved).
“When this relative said these insensitive things, I could not even look her in the eyes, and then she left. Several minutes later, a nurse came in to do some kind of testing, and I began to cry. She then stopped what she was doing, sat next to me on the hospital bed, and took my hand and held it to comfort me.
“This lasted for about 5 minutes while I cried and told her what this relative had said. She then referred me to a counselor at the hospital. I had been so upset, I couldn’t thank her. I wish I had, but I never saw her again. This experience, even some 4 years later, still makes me cry, that she would actually take the time to listen and to hold my hand. Thank you, nurse, whoever you are, and wherever you are!”
– Steve Sonntag
4. “Thanks for being my friend and making me not feel like a patient.”
“My mother was ill in the hospital and I was visiting her. My mother’s nurse, Bridget, was so upbeat and compassionate, and made my mother forget she was in a hospital. Not only that, but she became a friend to me and my three siblings.
“About a month later, and pregnant with twins, I went into the hospital for three months. I recall the day when I called my sister to let her know I found a nurse with the same great qualities ― I had found my nurse Bridget!
“So, what I would say to these two special nurses: Thanks for being my friend and making me not feel like a patient. Thank you for making me feel like we were just two old friends, hanging out, talking about frappuccinos and the beach. Thanks for making me want to fight through my situation and power forward.”
– Helen Holden
5. “She was my guide, my support and, in the end, I considered her a friend.”
“I would say thank you to Carol S., she was my multiple sclerosis nurse and coordinator. Carol retired about 6 years ago and, honestly, I wouldn’t have made it through the struggles of living with multiple sclerosis without her.
“She was my guide, my support and, in the end, I considered her a friend. She had a personal mission to help people like me adjust and live a full life with multiple sclerosis. She sacrificed her personal time and supported strangers. Thank you!”
– Adele Boese
6. “Thank you for your compassionate care. Thank you for using your awesome powers for good.”
“Our mother was in the last stages of pancreatic cancer, dying at home. Nurse R., the hospice nurse, was as special as our mother. She was a slight woman, delicate, but titanium-strong.
“We were standing on the flagstone porch. It was a clear, sweet May day, and in less than 24 hours my mum would be gone. I was asking Nurse R. how much time we had, how she was doing said. My answer was there, but I couldn’t hear it. You reached beyond the question to my pain and fear. You hugged me and smiled.
“Thank you, Nurse R., for freeing us to feel joy and hope amid death, and for bolstering us with your calm. Thank you for your compassionate care, your strength and gentleness, and your grace, delicacy, manners. Thank you for being direct, and for not pulling any punches. Thank you for not rolling your eyes when I so clearly was trying not to hear what you were saying.
“Thank you for connecting with mum like a human being, and for treating her like a person, not a patient. Thank you for using your awesome powers for good.”
– Jacqueline Lewis
When we infuse empathy into our lives — the way these nurses do for their patients — we unleash the healing power of humankindness. Backed by science, Dignity Health is grounded in the belief that medicine is more effective when delivered with compassion and kindness and healthier for our mind, body, and spirit. Join Dignity Health in celebrating National Nurses Week from May 6-12.”