*This post about nurse gifts may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure page for more info.
From stylish and comfortable nursing shoes to badge clips, new nurses need all sorts of things when beginning their careers. While they have likely acquired some stuff while in nursing school, it is never a bad idea to acquire some new gear to prepare for their first job. With COVID, there are some supplies that nurses need now that would not have been necessary in the past.
When you consider the added stress of graduating into a pandemic workforce, it is clear that 2021 nursing school graduates could also use some fun and light-hearted goodies to brighten their day as they embark on a challenging journey.
Whether you are thinking about giving something practical or something fun, here are some ideas for the special nursing school grad in your life!
Badge Clips and Stethoscope IDs
Any new nurse would love a cute badge clip or stethoscope ID, especially one that matches her personality or interests. These accessories always make great gifts, and they will not break the bank.
If you are shopping for someone you are close to, consider stocking their closet with cute printed scrub tops. High-quality scrubs are durable, comfortable, and sure to make any new nurse feel great. For nurses graduating into a pandemic workforce, scrubs with antimicrobial properties make an especially great gift.
Many nurses are on their feet for 12 (or more) hours each day. A good pair of compression socks help with blood circulation and can help the wearer remain a bit more comfortable throughout their shift. Compression socks come in countless colors and designs. Choose ones that match the intended recipient’s preferences or interests.
For nurses, a high-quality pair of comfortable and supportive nursing shoes are a must. This might not be the best gift to give as a surprise, though. Instead, let the nurse in your life know that you would like to buy him or her a pair of nursing shoes. Let them pick out their preferred brand and style, and then cover the cost for them. Giving the gift of happy feet is a wonderful option, but it’s best to let the recipient pick out and try on their new shoes themselves.
While nurses know the importance of staying hydrated and tell their patients to drink plenty of water, many do not consume nearly enough themselves — especially while they are at work. Dehydration is common among nurses, but you can help by giving durable drinkware that will keep water cold all day long.
Cell Phone Sanitizer
Did you know that a typical cell phone is ten times dirtier than a toilet seat? Yikes! Nurses’ phones are exposed to germs, bacteria, and other nasty things every day. Help your favorite nurse stay safe by giving her a cell phone sanitizer. These handy devices kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria in just six minutes, and they are must-have items for anyone in the healthcare field.
If you are looking for a fun, fashionable, and practical gift, you cannot go wrong with a smartwatch. Used for everything from tracking steps to checking emails to looking up medications, a good smartwatch is like a personal assistant that wraps around your wrist. Check out the best smartwatches for nurses to find one that is perfect for the new nurse in your life.
Is the nurse in your life starting their career on the night shift? If so, a set of black-out curtains is the perfect gift. They are an absolute must-have for anyone who works nights and can help your favorite nurse get some much-needed sleep during the day. Add a pair of earplugs, and you have an easy gift that will be deeply appreciated.
Badge Reference Cards
Just about every nurse has a hard time remembering everything they learned in school when working in the real world. From medications and diagnoses to daily tasks, nurses have to remember countless things while on the clock. Badge reference cards are a great gift because they act as a quick reference guide to medications, medical abbreviations, and much, much more. Several companies make these handy reference cards. MDpocket is one great option, though.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Nurses always need PPE, but it is more important now than ever before. Unfortunately, it has come to light in the COVID-19 pandemic that many hospitals and other medical facilities do not have nearly enough equipment to protect all of their employees adequately.
To keep your loved ones safe, consider giving them a high-quality reusable mask. A 3M respirator (with extra filters) is a good option. The EnvoMask, a reusable NIOSH N95 respirator mask, offers superior comfort and has a secure seal that keeps glasses from fogging. If you don’t know what brand or style of mask the intended recipient would like, ask. As a recent graduate who will be starting their first real-world healthcare job amid a pandemic, they likely have a certain type of mask or other PPE on their wishlist.
Rest and Relaxation
The next several months will likely be challenging for the nurse in your life, and that’s putting it lightly. The first year of nursing is always difficult, but entering the healthcare field presents even more issues during a pandemic.
If you are looking for an awesome gift for a new nurse, consider giving the gift of rest and relaxation. There are several ways to do this, and it does not have to cost a lot of money. Gift certificates for massages, pedicures, and other pampering services are always appreciated. They certainly are not the only options, though.
Offer to prepare a healthy dinner and drop it off at your loved one’s house on a work night, watch their kids so they can go out and do something they enjoy or ask if they need some help tidying up around the house. An act of love that eliminates a bit of stress is always a great gift.
Additional recommended reading:
*This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure page for more info.
While every day is a great day to show appreciation for the nurses in your life, the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) official National Nurses Appreciation Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th. Since 1896, the ANA has supported nurses and promoted the nursing profession through special events, continuing education opportunities, conferences, and much, much more.
If you are looking for heartfelt ways to celebrate a special nurse in your life, there are plenty of options. From giving them a new pair of supportive and comfortable nursing shoes to sponsoring a luncheon where they work, here are a few of our favorite ways to celebrate National Nurses Appreciation Week.
#1. Give the Gift of New Gear
Any nurse would be thrilled to receive new scrubs, nursing shoes, or compression socks as a token of your appreciation. Scrubs for women come in a wide variety of colors, styles, and patterns, and men’s scrubs are pretty stylish, too. This makes it simple to find something to suit virtually anyone’s taste.
Because nurses spend 12 or more hours on their feet each day, nursing shoes and compression socks make great gifts, as well. Ask the nurse in your life to give you a workwear wishlist (including sizes) and give them some new gear to celebrate National Nurses Appreciation Week.
#2. Treat Them to a Gift Certificate
Saying “thank you” with a gift certificate is always a good option and works especially well if you would like to show your gratitude for a nurse you do not know personally. Gift certificates for local restaurants and spas are popular options, but there are plenty of creative alternatives. Covering the cost of a fun activity — like ax throwing or wine tasting — is an awesome and unique way to help someone unwind.
#3. Sponsor a Workplace Luncheon
When you want to show your appreciation for more than one nurse, sponsoring a luncheon is the way to go. Whether you have pizzas delivered to your doctor’s office, coordinate with staff to buy lunch for the nursing staff at a hospital, or give a nearby clinic a large gift card from a local restaurant, sponsoring a meal is a great way to say thanks.
And if buying lunch for an entire nursing staff is a bit out of your budget, taking a nurse you personally know out for a meal or having dinner delivered to their home works, too. Whether you go big or go small, a free meal is something that everyone appreciates.
Nurses appreciation week
#4. Share a Thoughtful Gift
Being a nurse is a grueling and stressful job. Help the nurse in your life unwind by giving him or her a thoughtful gift. A set of cute wine glasses — and a bottle of wine, of course! — a cuddly bathrobe, a relaxing candle, or even a box filled with their favorite sweet treats would all be great gifts for helping someone special unwind.
If the nurse in your life loves tea, consider giving her an adorable teacup and a selection of tasty loose leaf teas. If the nurse you know enjoys gaming in his free time, present him with a popular new game or one from their wishlist. Think about the things that make the recipient happy, and give them a gift that matches their interests. When it comes to giving a gift to help someone unwind, a little bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way.
#5. Get Your Kids Involved
Gifts from adults are great and always appreciated. There is something extra special about a handmade surprise from a child, though. Have your little ones make cute “Thank You” cards for the nurses at a local doctor’s office, hospital, nursing home, or even veterinary office.
If you happen to be a teacher, daycare provider, etc., consider having everyone work together to make something special. Even an adorable video of your students or the kids in your care saying “thank you” would make any nurse feel special.
#6. Have Coffee Delivered
Most nurses power through their days with the help of copious amounts of caffeine. Give them a break from the usual hospital coffee by having the good stuff delivered from a local cafe or coffee shop. A tasty cup of coffee is a great way to put a big smile on just about any nurse’s face, so this is an awesome way to show your appreciation for the nurses at a clinic in your area.
#7. Give the Gift of a Helping Hand
If someone with whom you are close is a nurse, one of the best ways to show your appreciation is by helping them out. Show that you understand how hectic their life is and that you want to lend a hand by offering to clean their house, watch their kids while they are at work, or prepare a meal for them on a work night.
Lending a helping hand may not seem like a huge deal because it doesn’t require a major financial investment. For someone who is working 12+ hours a day, though, the gift of help is priceless. Offering your assistance is a true gift from the heart, too, and one that shows how much you care.
Closing Thoughts On Nurse’s Week
There is no wrong way to show a nurse how much they mean to you. Celebrating National Nurses Appreciation Week is an excellent way to make a kind gesture, but remember that nurses deserve our gratitude every day. They put their own needs aside and dedicate their lives to taking care of other people, and they are there for people on some of the worst days of their lives. The least you can do is treat them with kindness and respect and remember to say a heartfelt “thank you” from time to time.
The ideas above are just a few of the many ways you can show appreciation for the nurses in your life. Feel free to get creative, come up with another kind gesture, or ask the nurses you know for suggestions.
Additional recommended reading:
Mental Health Check For Healthcare Professionals
When it became clear that COVID-19 was a pandemic in early 2020, many in the healthcare profession began referring to doctors and nurses as “like soldiers going to war.” But the truth is that managing mental health issues among healthcare professionals in the United States has always been an ever-present and tricky situation. The arrival of COVID-19 further highlighted many major issues that have always been there.
Registered nurses and other healthcare professionals willingly put the needs of others before their own under very stressful circumstances, many of which involve severe illness and loss of life. Moral injury is now a common term that more accurately describes how moral consciousness and values become injured for healthcare workers in the aftermath of horrific work events. These distressing events often produce extreme guilt and shame – and lead to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and in extreme cases, even suicide.
Over the course of my nursing career, I have seen this many times. I have often tried to explain to friends and family (who don’t work in direct patient care) about the physical and moral demands that are placed on nurses. But unfortunately, I have found that if you aren’t there to witness it directly, then you don’t have the experience to really understand it. As a result, many healthcare professionals are gaslighted and think the problem is them, and not the healthcare system they are a part of.
It helps to look at the big picture and know that you are not alone in your struggle. Take a look at the below infographic to see how mental illness is affecting healthcare workers since the pandemic started and what you can do to help yourself.
You can find additional information about resources for frontline workers struggling with moral injury and mental health amid COVID-19 here.
Take care of yourself first, always.
Graphic created by Mozzaz.
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(This post about what to wear under scrubs contains affiliate links. See our disclosure page for more info).
Many nurses and other medical personnel appreciate the gift of wearing medical scrubs to work for each shift. And who can blame them? After all, scrubs are as comfortable as a set of pajamas, and they take the guesswork out of what you should wear at work each day. They can also save you a lot of cash that you would otherwise spend on clothing over time.
Some medical institutions require that you wear a specific color and brand of scrubs. This can offer additional benifits – both for staff and visitors. Assigned scrub colors help patients and other staff understand what you do. For example, when I was a nurse at UCLA Medical Center, all of the nurses wore navy blue, the CNAs wore army green, our ER techs wore bright blue, and anyone who worked in radiology wore brown. Assigning a scrub color helps patients and family members to know what you do when you walk into their room, which can help alleviate a lot of confusion.
At the medical spa I work at now, all nurses wear Figs scrubs in black (side note, the FIGS jogger scrubs are the best scrub pants I have ever worn!). Patients automatically know who the clinicians are, and it gives the office a more professional, streamlined look.
Needless to say, scrub uniforms are great for many reasons. But unfortunately, they don’t leave a lot of room for individuality. You may even begin to feel you are lost in a sea of medical staff, and after a while, that might feel a little boring.
But there are other ways to project your own style that are both functional and fashionable. And it may also help you out if you are wondering what to wear under scrubs in winter when it’s cold on your commute into your 6 am shift.
What do nurses wear under scrubs?
There is a common term that nurses and other medical professionals use to explain what they wear underneath their scrub uniforms, and that is “underscrubs.”
Underscrubs are exactly what they sound like they would be – clothing designed to be worn under medical scrubs. They are often as comfortable as the scrubs themselves, durable to last hundreds of washes (depending on the brand), can add a flair of color, and will keep you warm in the coldest of operating rooms and medical units.
(Many underscrubs can be worn alone as workout gear. So, if you work out, you will definitely get your money’s worth on many of these items!)
What do you wear under scrub tops?
One of the best ways to make sure that you have enough under scrub tops to make it through the week without having to do laundry after you get home from a long shift is to buy them in packs of 3 or 5. That way, you know you will have one to keep you warm when you are at work. They come in 3/4 sleeves and long sleeves.
#1. Adar Long Sleeve Underscrub for Women (3 Pack)
What to wear under scrubs pants?
There are many options for you to stay warm under your scrub pants. A pair of breathable yoga pants, thermal underwear, or form-fitting spandex shorties are always a safe bet. You want to make sure that your scrubs are loose enough for the material to fit underneath your scrub pants. If necessary, you may want to size up a little on your scrub pants if what you want to wear underneath is not form-fitting.
What to wear under white scrubs?
In all honestly, white scrubs have never made a lot of sense to me. Studies have shown that when a nurse wears white scrubs to see a child on a pediatric unit, they appear scarier and even more intimidating than nurses who wear colorful scrubs with cartoon or holiday themes. Not to mention that they also clearly display every blood and bodily fluid stain, which looks pretty gross from a patient’s perspective.
Even more importantly, though, depending on the material, white scrubs can sometimes show your underwear! If that is the case, you want to wear something neutral, so underneath won’t show through.
Even though white scrubs can be a pain, many institutions and nursing schools require white scrubs as part of their medical uniform. If you are in this group, you have no choice but to wear them for the foreseeable future. But the good news is that there are still options that you can wear under your scrubs to stay warm and be comfortable.
A white underscrub will help keep you warm without breaking the rules. But if your workplace or school allows it, consider a colorful underscrub so you can stand out from your peers.
Since my early nursing days, I have been a big fan of compression socks when I worked as a novice nurse on a neuro/trauma unit. Unfortunately, I didn’t start wearing them religiously underneath my scrubs until the middle of my first pregnancy.
There is something about compression sleeves that I like even more than compression socks – I think they provide more compression. And I also wear them when I work out go running as well!
The most obvious thing that you might expect a nurse to wear underneath their scrubs is compression socks. You can find them in all different colors and patterns, ranging from the silly (like bugs bunny or polka dot) to festive (like Halloween or Christmas themed), and everything in between.
I rarely see a nurse in a boring pair of compression socks. Why would they, when it is one of the few ways medical workers can bring some unique style to their medical uniform?
I hope this article helped you answer the question, “What do I wear under my scrubs?” One final tip you might find helpful is to bring your scrubs with you to the store so you can try your underscrubs on with your uniform before you commit to buying.
If you are ordering online (and who isn’t these days), try them on with your scrubs before removing any tags. You don’t want to wear them to work before realizing that they don’t fit right or aren’t comfortable, so you can return them if necessary.
Additional recommended reading:
Effective Strategies To Combat Nurse Burnout and Moral Injury
Have you ever experienced an overwhelming amount of stress or exhaustion from work? You wouldn’t be the only one. These extreme feelings are often referred to as burnout, which is categorized by a decrease in emotional, physical, and psychological energy resulting from work-related stress. This is a problem employees face in all industries but is particularly trying for those in demanding professions such as healthcare.
How can you tell if an employee is suffering from burnout or moral injury instead of just normal levels of work-related stress? Researchers have indicated that there are three primary aspects of burnout in employees.
#1. Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion results from the feelings of immense stress and pressure on employees that leave them feeling emotionally and physically spent by the time they’ve finished their shift.
Emotional exhaustion goes hand in hand with another aspect of burnout, depersonalization. This type of detachment reduces the amount of empathy an employee is able to expend toward the people they work with and for. In the healthcare industry, this can raise questions regarding the quality of care that nurses are able to provide when they’re experiencing burnout.
#3. Feelings Of Low Accomplishment
The final aspect of burnout is described as a feeling of low accomplishment. Employees may feel worthless despite their established skills and contribute less toward the responsibilities of their position. This can have some serious implications in the case of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
For as common as burnout and moral injury is in the healthcare industry, not many organizations feel they have a good grasp on programs to address these issues. Below are a few strategies that would serve as effective tools for combating nurse burnout.
- Creation and Implementation of Wellness Programs: programs designed to educate nurses on stress reduction and wellness strategies are a great start. These programs would provide methods that can be incorporated in their days to maintain stress levels.
- Healthy Work Environments: providing nurses with an environment where they’re respected and able to communicate about their issues openly has a positive effect on their performance and stress levels.
- Incorporation of Scheduling Software: integrated scheduling tools that provide clear information for nurses allows for a higher quality of care for patients.
- Establishing Healthy Habits: though it may seem cliché, the basics are often the most important. A nutritious diet, a full night’s sleep, and exercise go a long way in terms of positive mental health.
- Management Involvement: for the management staff, allowing nurses to bring attention to workplace issues with confidence and establishing an open dialogue will allow for a greater understanding of the employees and how they respond to stress.
For more information on how burnout affects the healthcare industry and nurses, as well as strategies to combat this burnout, be sure to review the accompanying infographic courtesy of ScheduleAnywhere.
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Online Nursing School Tips For Success
Congratulations on starting your online nursing degree program!
You can go back to school without sitting in a classroom, fighting traffic, or even finding a parking spot like you would at a brick-and-mortar university. Instead, you can go straight home after work, cook your family dinner, help your kids with homework, and then work on your studies when everyone is asleep.
Starting online nursing school is something to be proud of. But in the back of your mind, you may be thinking, “Should I have waited until the pandemic is over? Will I be too overwhelmed with online learning?”
Online nursing school is challenging no matter when you do it. But you can still be successful, even during the pandemic.
Before addressing these concerns, see if one of the following four scenarios below mirrors your current lifestyle.
Scenario 1: You come home from work after being exposed to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 patients. You have not eaten. You have not gone to the bathroom. You are going on zero sleep because your 6-month old was up all night long. You come home from work and immediately bombarded with the needs of your children. Your babysitter has left the house in disarray, and now your husband calls and says he has to work late. Your online program starts next week, and you think, how am I going to do this?
Scenario 2: You are home-schooling your children and have a one-year-old who just learned to walk. You decide to get up early to get a head start on your work. You managed to get a couple of hours of work done until your 12-year old announces he needs help with an e-learning project that is due at 9:00 a.m. – the same time you have an important meeting. You sign in to Zoom, forget to mute, and the camera is on. You can be seen running after your diaperless 1-year old screaming in delight, thinking it’s playtime. The day is long and hard, with chores needing to be done, and your online program started today.
Scenario 3: You are now in the 3rd week of your online course. The COVID surge has hit your hospital hard, and you are working 60+ hours a week. You are already behind in two assignments and lagging in the discussions. You want to stay in class, but you also need to pay the bills and put food on the table. You need your degree to keep your job but don’t know what to do.
Scenario 4: You are working from home and get a call from the nursing home that your mother has taken a turn for the worst. You get in your car and receive a call that your 16-year old is COVID-positive and is coming home to quarantine. You haven’t seen your friends in ages and abandoned your own health care needs months ago. This whole pandemic has been very hard for you emotionally, and you don’t know how much more you can take. Your degree program is the LAST on your mind right now.
I’m sure many of you can relate to all or parts of these scenarios as you continue to ponder if online education is for you. You are not alone.
Online Learning and Reflections on Your Experiences
Before you think that pursuing your online degree during the pandemic may not be a good option, consider this: Part of learning online is about reflecting upon your experiences as a professional nurse AND applying these experiences to assignments in your classes. If you wait until the pandemic is over, you might miss out on one of the best opportunities of your life for reflection, personal and professional growth.
In all universities, objectives and curricula are designed according to national standards, such as an online RN-BSN program. Curricula contain specific courses for the program and are further broken down into course content.
Course content is typically divided into two main sections: discussions and assignments. Students have an opportunity to reflect upon and apply their experiences to demonstrate how they have met the overall program and university objectives. Therefore, the experiences you have accumulated from working through this pandemic can help you succeed in meeting program and university objectives.
What Can I Do to Be Successful in the Online Setting?
Now that you’ve considered the scenarios outlined above, there are ways to overcome many of those hurdles. Whether you are thinking about going to school online or have already started your educational journey, here are online nursing school tips you can integrate into your lifestyle right now.
Additional recommended reading:
Online Nursing School Tips For Success:
Support is Key
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professors, advisors, and loved ones. Your school has many resources to help you, from time management strategies to writing resources.
It is important to learn about these resources right away. Find out who your advisor is and discuss any concerns you have. Communicate with your professor often. A simple email indicating that you need help, or keeping them informed about ongoing circumstances in your life, keeps the lines of communication open. You and your professor can come up with a plan for you to complete your work. Remember that they are nurses, too. They will understand.
It is recommended you do not choose an online program that does not offer this type of comprehensive support.
Create an Action Plan
Creating an action plan is vital. Why? Because you can see a snap-shot of all your roles and responsibilities from child care, employment, your study schedule, and more.
Your action plan can be just a simple sheet of paper or an elaborate spreadsheet with time-tables and prospective future endeavors. The best part of this action plan is that it is a working document. You can add or delete from your list and find more time to do the things you need to do.
Start a Reflective Journal
Many have reflected upon how their nursing roles have changed during the pandemic and pondered about where they see their professions headed in the future.
Reflection is essential in any nursing program because it allows you to apply your course content and develop new critical thinking skills in real-time. The best thing about online learning at this time is that you can use your professional experiences to help you complete your class assignments and have insightful discussions in class.
Writing down your reflections can be as simple as jotting down your experiences on a notepad, phone, or computer. Some of my best reflections occurred while listening to relaxing music and admiring nature and photography. Perhaps this strategy can work for you as well. Even just 5 minutes a day can help you gather your thoughts during these uncertain times.
Many nurses have verbalized that they may not have enough engagement in an online program. Not so!
Many online programs have innovative ways for professors and students to be engaged with one another, such as Zoom, Skype, Voki, and real-time audio and video. Most online nursing schools have discussion boards. Aspen University, for example, has the Nurse Cafe — in which you engage with your peers and professors on a variety of topics.
Online courses often have their own unique ways to encourage discussion and engagement. One of the main benifits is that online discussions are mostly asynchronous, which means you can partake in discussions anytime during the week – 24/7!
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a great deal of stress, anxiety, and burnout for many of us. Self-care activities — like proper sleep, healthy diet, stretching, and other small changes to your daily routine — are so important as you treat patients and work your way through your online degree program.
Additional recommended reading:
Don’t Ever Lose Sight of your Determination and Passion!
This is true not only in nursing but also in life. The nursing courses you will be taking may ask you to focus on a topic you are passionate about – perhaps you discover that you have a great interest in developing evidence-based policy/procedures for addressing future pandemics. Whatever your passion is, make sure that you hold it close to your heart and remain determined to reach all of your dreams and goals.
But most importantly, remember this as you continue to ponder your future in higher learning through an online setting:
Passion and determination make up the core of our aspirations, and higher learning sets the stage to help you showcase your dreams.
About The Author
Dr. Linda Marcuccilli is a professor of nursing at Aspen University and a registered nurse for 33 years. She developed a research program involving persons with implantable ventricular devices, published her research in several peer-reviewed nursing journals, and presented her research across the nation.
Dr. Marcuccilli is the author of the book The Journey Through Graduate School: Flourish and Be Happy and her blog Inspiring Learners: Find the Passion Within.
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