As a nurse, you’ve probably had a few favorite patients over the years. Sometimes, these special people are frequent visitors due to chronic health conditions, or they spend weeks under your care for an acute illness. Or they might come and go in a single shift, leaving a memory and a smile. Just as a patient can win your heart, you can also have a big impact on your charges. If you’re used to giving 100 percent and not getting much recognition, it’s nice to occasionally have your efforts rewarded on a personal level. If you’re lucky, here are some of the ways your patients (and their families) might remind you that you’re their favorite nurse.
1. Words of Encouragement
On a bad day, simply having a patient say “Thank you” or remember your name can make things better. Some patients go the extra mile in making your job feel worthwhile. They let you know in no uncertain terms that your presence, attitude and skills are making their medical ordeal more bearable. Kind words are especially important for new nurses. Hearing a patient tell you that you really do have what it takes to make it in this tough profession can be a life raft that you cling to when things get rocky over the years.
2. Personal Gifts
Regardless of whether your hospital has a policy against accepting gifts, occasionally a patient might really want to give you a present. Some nurses say they have been offered small trinkets, gifts worth several hundred dollars, and even bottles of wine or vodka. A few patients also offer money if that’s all they have at hand to give. Navigating these situations can be awkward, but the thought always counts. One gift that nurses report appreciating (that doesn’t violate any policies) is a sketch, poem or song created in their honor. That’s the kind of token of appreciation that might find a place on your wall in a nice frame.
3. Bring on the Food
Donuts, coffee, even a snack from the vending machine can be a patient’s way of letting you know you’re doing a fantastic job. Those with family members who cook may treat you to homemade baked goods, a pan of tamales or the best curry you’ve ever eaten. If your patient likes you enough to buy food, they will often treat your coworkers as well. This can make you very popular! The rules about accepting gifts tend to be less stringently enforced when food is involved. Of course, if you think you might get in trouble, you can always eat the evidence….
4. Thank-You Notes
A handwritten note or a phone call after discharge is always an appropriate and appreciated sign of goodwill from a patient. In addition to a personal thank-you, nurses are extra lucky when a patient or family member sends a letter of recommendation to their supervisor or the hospital administrator. That’s the kind of thing that can make it easier to get a promotion or a raise!
5. Hugs, Hugs, Hugs
Some patients have nothing to give but heartfelt affection. A warm hug from a patient may cross the boundaries of professional conduct, but it sure feels good. Words of praise can be cheap or insincere, but body language doesn’t lie. These patients really do think you hung the moon.
What’s the nicest way a patient has ever let you know they think you’re doing a fantastic job?
For more Career Advice for Nurses pick up the latest issue of Scrubs magazine, available at a retail store near you!