8 Appreciation Ideas for Nurses and Healthcare Workers

8 Appreciation Ideas for Nurses and Healthcare Workers

National Nurses Week and Healthcare Week are just around the corner. Here's 8 creative ways to show appreciation for the nurses and healthcare workers on your staff.


Healthcare workers (doctors, physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals) are modern day heroes. They dedicate their lives to helping others, working selflessly to heal, treat, and care for their patients.

Now more than ever, being a healthcare professional is heroic. The coronavirus pandemic has put the health and wellbeing of millions of medical and frontline workers at severe risk. It's also placed them under an immense amount of stress.

Over the past year, many healthcare professionals have reported experiencing chronic stress and burnout. Mental Health America surveyed over 1,000 healthcare workers between June and September of 2020, and found that 93% reported experiencing stress, 86% reported experiencing anxiety, 77% reported frustration, 76% reported exhaustion and burnout, and 75% said they were overwhelmed.

Watch ⟶ Preventing Healthcare Burnout: Fostering Connection and Wellbeing in Healthcare Workplaces

And although the coronavirus vaccines have offered renewed hope to many of us, healthcare professionals must continue battling the pandemic on the front lines.

Support your healthcare workers with a recognition program

In order to help support their medical staff and prevent burnout, healthcare leaders and the organizations that work for them need to foster a workplace environment of self-care, compassion, and appreciation.

While employee appreciation be an ongoing effort, holidays like National Nurses Week provide a great opportunity to celebrate and honor your healthcare team.

When is National Nurses Week?

Every year, National Nurses Week begins on May 6th and ends on May 12th. To continue celebrating the people who keep us all healthy, the celebrations are followed by National Hospital Week, from May 10th to May 16th. There's never been a better time to applaud the healthcare heroes in your organization!

Here's 8 gift ideas to show appreciation to healthcare professionals for National Nurses Week, Doctor's Day, Health Care Week, or any other time of year.

1. Give personalized mugs, shirts, water bottles, or face masks.

The best gifts for healthcare workers are often practical as well as thoughtful. Coffee mugs, socks, or tumblers make great gifts because they can be used on a regular basis, and remind healthcare workers that they're valued and appreciated during long shifts.

Personalized, custom gifts are a powerful way to show your medical staff that their hard work is appreciated. You can choose your organization's logo, or get creative and go with a popular catchphrase or value that you live by.

Custom rewards catalog on the Cooleaf platform: coffee mugs, face masks, shirts, and more
Create branded rewards and let your team "shop" from your custom catalog on Cooleaf

2. Host fun virtual events.

Before the pandemic, many healthcare teams celebrated Nurses Week with in-person potlucks, luncheons, or other events. But in the age of social distancing, healthcare leaders need to get creative.

Virtual events are a great way to show appreciation for your healthcare staff's hard work. Whether you choose a virtual cooking class, painting class, or cupcake decorating class, virtual events let your healthcare team exercise their creative muscles and have fun getting to know one another outside of work. You can also pick events that promote health and well-being, like a meditation or yoga class.

Virtual cooking class on Cooleaf
Share fun virtual cooking classes with Cooleaf's events tool

3. Set up a peer recognition program.

While receiving recognition from managers is important, most employees also want acknowledgement from the peers that they work with on a daily basis. Being recognized by a teammate is a powerful motivator and morale booster.

It's important to make sure that recognition is an easy and fun experience for employees — not something that adds to their stress. A peer recognition platform can make it simple for your staff to recognize one another on-the-go.

Recognize healthcare heroes with in-the-moment shout-outs
Spotlight healthcare heroes with real-time recognition

4.  Give gift cards that offer memorable experiences.

Research shows that the joy of planning a future vacation (or staycation!) is often greater than the actual experience of taking it. By giving your healthcare team a gift card that they can use to rest and relax outside of work, you'll help promote good self-care practices and encourage mental wellness.

Send out a survey to ask your healthcare workers what they are most looking forward to after the pandemic — an international vacation? A spa day? More time with family members? After completing the survey, give your team members gift cards that they can use whenever they feel comfortable doing so. Airbnb, Southwest Airlines, and Delta gift cards are all great for travel lovers, while a gift card can provide enjoyment for the whole family.

5. Give coffee and other snacks.

Sweet treats, coffee, and other goodies are always appreciated, especially after a long day of work (did you know that nurses walk between 4-5 miles in a 12-hour shift?). A gift card for Starbucks, or a local bakery or ice cream, is a perfect nurse appreciation gift.

6. Host team-building games.

Bring your healthcare staff together with fun team-building games and activities. In hectic work environments, a little levity can help reduce stress and bring your staff closer together.

The best games for healthcare staff don't require everyone to be in the same place at the same time. Virtual scavenger hunts, where staff members must take and share photos based on a fun prompt, can be a fun way to bring people together. You can also encourage some friendly competition with wellness challenges, like water-drinking competitions.

Happy medical team helping patients during COVID-19

7. A heartfelt thank-you.

A simple, genuine thank-you message can go a long way to brighten your team's spirits. National Nurses Week and Healthcare Week are the perfect time to give your healthcare staff a word of thanks.

If possible, try to get everyone on the leadership team to say thank-you in their own words. Take the time to craft a thoughtful message and share it publicly with your team along with an Amazon gift card, or one of the gifts mentioned above.

Healthcare burnout isn't just a problem that individual workers face — it's an organization-wide issue. When organizations create a culture that prioritizes employee appreciation and recognition, your healthcare staff will be be happier, more engaged, and provide better care.

8 Appreciation Ideas for Nurses and Healthcare Workers

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