Anyone who’s set foot in a hospital or doctor’s office or watched television shows set in one knows nurses spend nearly all of their waking hours devoted to caring for others, so the key to a meaningful nurse gift is one that encourages them to care for themselves. Whether it’s something that’ll make her long shifts more bearable or help him relax when he’s off the clock, you’ll want to get the special nurse in your life a gift that acknowledges all of the hard work they do. Since no one knows the demands of the job better than nurses themselves, we asked five experienced nurses about the best gifts they’ve received and the ones they’d love to get. Their picks, below, include everything from a guidebook for new nurses to a “status” stethoscope.
Stylish compression socks
Nearly every nurse we spoke with said they’d love to receive a pair of compression socks, preferably in a fun pattern or print. According to Sonja M. Schwartzbach, a nurse in the tristate area, these snug socks are the “holy grail” for nurses on their feet for 12-hour shifts. Atlanta-based family nurse practitioner Julia Eze says they’re “really good for making sure you’re getting good blood supply to your legs,” which prevents pain and swelling, and Katie Duke, an in-patient cardiology nurse practitioner in New York City, recommends Therafirm socks that “offer medical grade compression, which means [they’re] going to help keep your feet and legs from getting fatigued.”
Here’s a very on-trend tie-dye pair from Nurse Mates, one of Schwartzbach’s favorite brands, that are less than $20. As Schwartzbach says, “You don’t have to spend a ton of money on [a pair] but it’s something that when nurses get as a gift, they appreciate.”
Scrubs and accessories
Because nurses wear them every day, a new set of scrubs would be a nice gift. Duke (who actually designed her own line of scrubs with Cherokee Uniforms) explains that lots of nurses often wear free scrubs offered by their hospitals, but that these can be unflattering, uncomfortable, or not made with enough pockets for everything nurses need to carry around. “We work in health care, so you can’t really express yourself with tons of fashion,” she says. “But everybody still wants to look good and be confident in what they’re wearing at the hospital.” This set from Figs has a more tailored fit and plenty of pockets. Nurse practitioner Danielle LeVeck (who is a Figs brand ambassador) says, “They are the most innovative and downright beautiful scrubs.” Registered nurse Brittney Wilson agrees that “they’re super-soft and really nice.”
Figs also makes tailored, functional scrubs for men.
Like Figs, Jaanuu is a relatively new brand that designs stylish scrubs, as well as pieces like jackets and undershirts meant to be worn under or over your hospital outfit. Wilson says the brand has done a good job catering to the plus-size audience, and it’s also a favorite of Schwartzbach, who turns to Jaanuu for “scrub leisure” styles like this underscrub shirt. Since some parts of the hospital are kept very cold, she relies on these for warmth — and also modesty. “We’re doing a lot of bending and lifting,” she says, “and you don’t want that crack between your scrub top and your scrub pants to show.” A tucked-in underscrub shirt closes up the gap.
Since many hospitals require that nurses wear specific color scrubs, a little piece of flair like a handmade badge-holder clip helps them add some personality to their uniform. Eze says nurses often choose clips that represent their specialties like a heart for a cardiac nurse or an X-ray for a nurse in the orthopedic department.
For newly engaged or married nurses who don’t want to risk losing their rings, silicone bands offer a cheap and fuss-free alternative to wear on the job. “I have a beautiful wedding ring and engagement ring and I don’t wear them to the hospital because it’s an infection risk,” says Schwartzbach. She’s heard “horror stories” of nurses throwing away rubber gloves with their rings still in them. Plus, the silicone ones are easy to sanitize.
A status stethoscope
With three nurses mentioning the brand by name, Littmann is basically a status stethoscope among nurses. “When you see doctors and cardiologists wearing a stethoscope, it’s usually that one,” says Schwartzbach, who thinks it’d be an especially thoughtful gift for a new nurse about to start his or her career. LeVeck adds that they’re “the highest-quality stethoscopes on the market and a must-have for any nurse.” Wilson says “you can almost never go wrong” with a Littmann.
A nursing bible
Another solid pick for new nurses or recent nursing-school graduates is this practical guide to everything from time management to performing patient assessments. Schwartzbach says it covers most things nurses usually “learn on the job,” and Duke likes that it includes all “the best things you need to know for your first year.”
Things to stay caffeinated
For staying caffeinated or keeping hydrated, Eze says an insulated tumbler is “perfect work accessory [that] a nurse can utilize throughout the entirety of the shift.” Schwartzbach says Yeti tumblers, which keep coffee hot and water cold, are popular among nurses because they hold large quantities of liquid to sip during a shift.
Speaking of coffee, several nurses we spoke with said a gift card for Starbucks (or local coffee shop) would be a very welcome gift for nurses who rely on caffeine to stay awake and alert for long hours on their feet. “[Nurses] can use that going into their shift, but they can also treat their whole unit to Starbucks,” says Duke, and Eze calls it “an all-time fave.”
Not surprisingly, massage gift cards came up a few times when we chatted with nurses. “Nurses always take care of other people,” says Duke. “It’s what we do for 40-plus hours a week and sometimes at the end of the day we don’t have energy to do things for ourselves.” LeVeck agrees that “nurses often care for everyone except themselves,” and that they’d appreciate a gift that lets them pamper themselves. A gift card for a local spa is always good, but Schwartzbach says one of her favorite gifts was an in-home massage through the on-demand service Zeel: “They send a masseuse and a table to your house — it was amazing!”
One of the best gifts LeVeck ever received was a subscription to a meal-delivery service. “Nursing is exhausting and the last thing any of us wants to do when we get home is cook dinner,” she says. She loved that it took the work out of grocery shopping and menu planning so she could easily prepare healthy meals for her family.
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