4 ways to say “thanks” during National Nurses Week.

As the American Nurses Association prepares to celebrate National Nurses Week on May 6–12, we can also take a moment to thank the nurses we’ve met for their important role in healthcare. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reports there are around 4,148,730 professionally active nurses in the U.S. Whether you oversee a team of nurses or your life has been made better by knowing one, showing appreciation for the hard work our nurses perform every day is infectiously fun and simple.

1.Say thank you with food or flowers.

Depending on where your favorite nurse works, sharing some edible gratitude is a fun way to say thank you. Providing a large fruit basket loaded with portable, healthy treats makes it easy for nurses to not only grab a tasty treat, but they can also feast on the appreciation. If food isn’t permitted in that section of the hospital, a nice flower bouquet or potted plant can add a dash of color to a sterile nurse’s station. If you aren’t sure about the policy, some companies like EcoFlower.com design beautiful arrangements out of natural materials that offer a cheerful scent and design but won’t interfere with hospital safety guidelines.

2. Provide a massage therapist for an afternoon.

After getting permission from the hospital or doctor’s office, why not hire a massage therapist equipped with a massage chair to provide free massages to the nurses who helped make your hospital stay comfortable? “We bring in a massage therapist for students and staff every few weeks where they can receive a 15-minute neck and upper back massage,” Julie Aiken, CEO of Ameritech College of Healthcare, said. Massage is a great way to relieve stress and relax sore muscles.

3. Share your appreciation.

While you may not have time to show your appreciation during treatment, taking a moment after you’ve returned home to write a note or card to the nurses who helped you recover is a thoughtful gesture. If you are offering support to a family member or friend who is recovering, you can write a thank you card on their behalf. Even better, you can make it a cooperative effort. “You can encourage other patients to do the same and use all the notes to create a “thank-you” board,” Rozzette Cabrera, RN, says.

If you really want to show your appreciation, forward a letter of gratitude to the nurse manager or hospital administrator. Everyone enjoys getting good news for a change, and both managers would appreciate hearing about the good work their staff is extending to patients.

4. Take care of your health.

The best token of appreciation you can share with those who dedicate their lives to wellness is to take care of your health. “I’m not sure if you know this or not, but when your nurse leaves your bedside they take a piece of you with them,” contributor Brie Gowen says. “They will wonder how you’re feeling, and will likely call the other shift on duty to see how you’re doing.” They saw you at your worst, and they were delighted to see your recovery. So if you have been given a second chance at good health, use it wisely. Your nurse will appreciate it.

The year 2017 is the “Year of the Healthy Nurse.” As we honor the nurses who changed our lives, let’s take a moment to share our gratitude and appreciation for their dedication to caregiving. Who knows? It may just change theirs.