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What a Nurse Wants: 9 Essential Nurse Week Gift Ideas

nurse week gifts: girl giving gift to a nurse

From first-aid to the front lines, nursing is a work of heart. Whether your special nurse is a close friend or family member, or you're participating in a community-wide celebration, our list of nine quintessential gifts for today's essential workers will take the guesswork out of Nurse Week gifts. But first, let's get you up to speed on the tradition behind Nurses Appreciation Week.

What Is Nurse Week?

In 1953, nursing advocate Dorothy Sutherland declared May 6th as "Nurse Day" in the United States. The date marked the 100th anniversary of nurse Florence Nightingale's service in the Crimean War and also her birthday. 

Nightingale was a remarkable nurse and is revered the world over as the founder of modern nursing. She pioneered advances in disease containment, prevention, and social reform.

But it was her sense of duty and compassion that made the biggest mark. Soldiers who never knew her name recalled the same story time and again: “I was comforted by an angel from above, carrying a small lamp.” Today, nurses from around the world take part in Lamp Lighting ceremonies during Nurse Week in honor of Florence Nightingale’s legacy.

When Is Nurse Week?

In 1993, the American Nurses Association (ANA) proposed a week-long celebration to recognize the contributions of all nurses for delivering high-quality healthcare to their patients, family members, and the community at large. 

National Nurses Week is May 6-12. Kicking off the week of festivities is RN Recognition Day. May 8th is National Student Nurses Day, and National School Nurse Day falls on Wednesday during National Nurses Week.

Due to the extraordinary contributions of nurses during the health crisis of 2020-21, National Nurses Week was extended to one month. The same year, the World Health Organization designated 2020 as The Year of the Nurse.

How To Celebrate National Nurses Week

The healthcare industry, like most others, understands the importance of employee appreciation. Hospitals, health systems, public health administrations, and nursing schools all set aside a portion of the corporate budget to honor their employees and show staff appreciation. 

The most common celebrations tend to be large-scale catered events with giveaways of promotional products like keychains, lanyards, badge holders, water bottles, tote bags, and lunch bags emblazoned with the corporate logo.

No shade thrown, these events are fantastic. They’re well-planned, highly anticipated parties that do wonders for boosting morale. What they aren't, however, is personal.

Top 9 Hero-Worthy Nurse Week Gifts

four smiling nurses

Gift cards and flowers are great for Mother's Day, but save the lunch box for another day. These nine gift ideas will blow your nurse's compression socks right off their tired feet. 

1. Nurse Approved Footwear

There’s a reason this is our number-one Nurse's Day gift idea. Well-made shoes help maintain good posture, allow complete range of motion, prevent back pain, and reduce stress on the ankles, hips, and knees.

When it comes to nursing shoes, keep in mind that male and female nurses prefer different styles. A 2018 survey found that:

  • Running shoes were the go-to choice by:
    • 64% of male nurses
    • 47% of female nurses
  • Clogs came in second, favored by:
    • 13% of male nurses
    • 23% of female nurses

Interestingly, the survey noted that 75% of nurses were happy with their current pair of shoes. So, when buying nursing shoes as a gift, it's a good idea to do a little "recon" first. 

Best Nursing Shoes for Women

We love the New Balance Phantom 577v5 in Thistle and Poisonberry for its surprisingly sturdy yet low profile design, mesh uppers specifically engineered to improve airflow, and Cush+ memory foam insert for maximum comfort and all-day support. Priced around $70, these athletic trainer style shoes go the distance.

Best Nursing Shoes for Men

We recommend the Cherokee Infinity Soldier-On. These lace-up trainers are designed specifically for men in the healthcare industry by providing cool comfort and support for long periods of wear. The technologically engineered mesh upper and insole quickly forms to the wearer's feet. These runner-style shoes are priced around $70.

Best Unisex Nursing Shoes

Dansko clogs are revered by nurses and other healthcare pros for their timeless style and supportive design. These clogs come in a traditional matte black finish, are available in genuine leather or vegan, and feature a patented Dansko insole that forms to feet for a personalized fit. These shoes are priced around $119.

Why Nurses Need a Great Pair of Shoes

Nurses spend most of their 12- to 16-hour shifts on their feet. Good shoes are as essential as they are. 

2. Fitbit Zip

We love the Fitbit Zip because it's small and functional. Unlike most trackers, the Zip isn't worn on the wrist. Instead the device clips to a scrub pocket or waistband. The Zip features:

  • Hi-def OLED screen 
  • Compatibility with Android, iOS devices, as well as Mac and PC
  • Tracking of steps, distance, food intake, calories burned, and basic vitals
  • A visual display that turns data into insight
  • Moisture resistant technology 

Priced under $200, the Zip comes standard in charcoal, lime green, magenta, and cobalt blue. For an extra 10 bucks, you can purchase a 4-pack of Fitbit Zip covers in other colors.

Why Nurses Love the Zip

Counting steps is very motivating. When your nurse sees how many steps they’ve logged, they’ll feel less guilty about skipping leg day for some much-needed time at home with their fam.

3. Blue Light Filtering Glasses

Research is clear: ultraviolet, blue, and violet light is harmful to our health and wellness. Cataracts, caused by ultraviolet light may not appear until later in life. But blue and violet wavelengths penetrate the eye, causing damage sooner. Blue light exposure from computers and other devices also impacts the sleep cycle, which is something nurses struggle with already. 

PeeperSpecs come in a variety of fashionable styles, all featuring the Focus Blue Light lenses guaranteed to filter over 40% of the most harmful blue light. Featured on Oprah's Favorite Things, these glasses may help minimize digital eye strain, headaches, and make screen time easier on the eyes. Prices start around $20 for standard "no-correction" lenses and readers in strengths up to +3.0.

Why Nurses Must Have Blue Light Filtering Glasses

Better sleep, less eye strain, and greater productivity make blue light filtering glasses a must-have for any nurse’s night shift survival kit.

4. Littmann Noise-Canceling Stethoscope

The instrument nurses use to assess their patient's lungs and heart has received some high-tech improvements recently. The latest stethoscopes have noise-canceling features that filter, buffer, or amplify heart and lung sounds. 

Some models like the new Littmann L6183 Cardiology IV HP- Limited Edition are so sensitive, trained nurses can actually hear turbulent blood flow in the coronary arteries. Of course, any Littmann stethoscope makes a great gift. Prices range from $50 to $220 for the model shown.

Why Nurses Want This Stethoscope

Any nurse whose practice involves saving lives loves their Littmann stethoscope!

5. Personal Property Trackers

If your nurse’s beloved stethoscope (or other cherished nursing gear) goes missing, don't worry. A Bluetooth-enabled personal tracker like these from Tile can help them find it stat! There are others on the market but Tile has more time in the field. 

Once attached, the Tile Mate tracker pairs with a smartphone. Tile will pinpoint the exact location of the tracker and will send out a push notification of its last known location, if it goes out of range. You can pick one up for around $25.

Why Nurses Use Personal Trackers

Expensive items like stethoscopes tend to sprout legs and walk off the unit from time-to-time, so this will help your favorite nurse prevent them from going MIA.

6. Meal Delivery Subscription

nurse week gifts: salmon with varieties of vegetables on a plate

Eating healthy and spending time with family are two of the busy nurse's biggest challenges. Meal delivery subscription services like Sun Basket and Green Chef offer easy-to-prepare healthy meal kits at reasonable prices. Some kits start at $3 per meal for each person, making it one of the more affordable Nurse Week gifts.

Why Nurses Love Meal Delivery Kits

It's a lot easier to prepare and eat healthy family dinners at home when you can skip the grocery store line. Plus through programs like, nurses, first responders, and members of the military get special discounts off already low prices. 

7. Scrub Sets That Go the Distance

nurse week gifts: Keswi scrub top

Keswi's high-performance medical apparel includes scrubs designed with functional details like multiple use pockets for storage, fashionable details like a faux wrap-front top, and high-tech four-way stretch fabric for added mobility and comfort. 

Other scrub brands use 100% cotton, which requires extra care like ironing. However, Keswi premium scrubs are made with a special polyester, rayon, and spandex blend. Polyester provides the durability scrubs need to look good after multiple cycles of high-heat washing and drying. Keswi scrub sets are available in today's most popular colors: black, pewter, royal blue, navy blue, and wine.

Why Nurses Love Great Scrubs

Not all scrubs are created equally. Today's nurse needs high-end scrubs that look as great at 7 p.m. as they did at 7 a.m.

8. Personalized Gift Sets

Let's face it, we've all made the mistake of slapping someone's name and title onto a basic ceramic mug, lapel pin, or paperweight (yikes!) and passing it off as a thoughtful gift. The good news is that personalizing a Nurse's Week gift has only one rule: Start with a great gift. Here are a few of our faves from Etsy:

Nurse Survival Kit 

These fun personalized nurse survival kits are chock-full of goodies and gadgets. Each kit is tailored to your nurse’s specialty. Kits for mental health nurses, dental nurses, student nurses, ICU nurses may include candles, soap, and snacks. With prices starting under $10, this gift is perfect if you’re shopping for multiple Nurse Week gifts. 

Stethoscope Tags

Personalized ID tags range from hand-stamped copper to trendy monogrammed pieces.

Nursing Appreciation Gift Sets

For just under $50, you can give your special nurse a gift set designed to promote self-care. Gift sets may include bath bombs, essential oils, candles, and lotions. Etsy customers leave rave reviews about the gorgeously packaged set from DearAvaGifts.

Personalized Jewelry

When it comes to accessories, nurses have to keep things simple. These sweet stethoscope name necklaces are perfection for under $20. 

Why Nurses Love Personalized Products

It says you care about them. But remember, whether you're buying a stainless steel tumbler, travel mug, graphic T-shirt, coffee mug, or wine glass, go big or go home.

9. Nurse-Themed Confections

We're in love with these personalized healthcare-themed cookies from Williams Sonoma. For under $50 your RN, LPN, CNA, or nursing student will receive a gift box of professionally decorated artisan-baked cookies featuring a personal message. Plus, each purchase helps support the "Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign" to end food insecurity in the U.S. 

Why Your Special Nurse Craves These Cookies

What's not to love? These cookies are literally the sweetest gifts on our list. 

Join Us in Thanking Nurses

Because nurses are our healthcare heroes, it's important (and fun!) to participate in Nurse Appreciation Week. Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, likened nursing to an art. We like to call it a “work of heart.” 

As May approaches, we hope you'll join us in saying "thank you" to our nurses for leading the way with fearlessness, hard work, honesty, and ethics while promoting nurturing, care, and compassion in an unpredictable world.

From extravagant high-tech stethoscopes and thoughtful personalized jewelry to practical but posh Keswi scrub sets, you’re sure to find the perfect Nurse Week gifts.

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