A Nurse’s Love Language: How To Show You Really Appreciate Them

Many in healthcare are familiar with the 1995 classic relationship advice book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. For National Nurses Week, we talked with a few of our very own nurses, Crystal Sheffield and Jennifer Best, on staff here at DataFile. Through a hilarious impromptu interview, we learned a lot about their “nursing love language” and how we can all learn to turn a theme week into a true showing of appreciation.  Read our full interview with Jennifer and Crystal and share your best suggestions for appreciating all those hard-working nurses!

What would YOU say is the best way to show a nurse appreciation in a clinical setting? When you were in offices/clinics/hospitals what would have been nice—or was nice—to receive, be told, etc.?

J: Just getting a simple thank you from the patients or family members. Or the hugs when you’re discharging someone to go home after helping them heal. Or just the hugs you get from the little old ladies (I came from a long-term care & rehab facility) that are thankful for what you did for them because they can’t do it on their own.

C: I think that if we were told what we were doing right and getting consistent kudos for things the other 51 weeks a year that would have been great.

Ha! Do either of you have specific instances you can recall where you felt particularly appreciated?

C: When I was a school nurse, my kids would give me cards or drawings, and it was super cute and made me feel great. I think I kept some over the years.

J: It’s so hard to pick just one time. I worked mostly on the rehab side, so I got the chance to see so many patients heal from their surgeries or strokes and be able to go home. I think the best feeling was seeing a patient that came in after a stroke, and couldn’t do anything for themselves, and several months later, they got to walk out the door. Just a thank you from them and getting to see that they were healthy again meant so much.

Wow! That must have been very rewarding for you both. Have either of you ever heard of the Five Love Languages? 

  • Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.
  • Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
  • Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.
  • Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided, undistracted attention.
  • Physical Touch: It can be holding hands. With this love language, the speaker feels affection through physical touch.

The idea is that everyone has a primary love language. Ways in which they RECEIVE love. 

If you could choose only one, which of these love languages is the way you want to be loved? As a nurse or as a person?

C: For me, touch. As a person, I’m physically demonstrative but even as a nurse when I comforted people I would either give hug or just a squeeze on the shoulder so they knew they weren’t alone.

J: Physical touch – Either a thank-you hug, or even just holding the hand of one of your patients when they’re talking to you, just to let them know that they’re not alone and that you do care.

That’s interesting! Both of your answers said that you appreciated words of affirmation, but I see that you like to show love with physical touch. Does that sound right?

C: I would say so. I think touch is a hard one to navigate professionally in my opinion.

J: Definitely!

Can you think of any other things that would be helpful for folks to know more about what nurses need to feel truly appreciated?

J: We like food! 😀

C: With enough chocolate and pens, we can rule the world. 🙂

 J: I know just getting the plates of cookies or snacks, the nurses love it! Especially when they’re busy running around. OH! Yes! And the pens! lol

Like, writing pens?

J: Yup! There’s some really good pens out there. I think every nurse has their favorite type.

C: I used to hoard hotel pens for work…

Bahahahaha! Were they that hard to come by? 

C: My husband asked where all his Pilot G2 pens went. I looked at him and said, “Well, you should know what you’re getting into for marrying a nurse…” Haha!

J: You can’t leave a pen just sitting around. A nurse will steal it. And if you have a favorite, don’t lend it out. Patients were always needing to borrow pens, so you had to keep those pens you didn’t like in another pocket to let them borrow.

Thanks for the sneak peek. The things we learn if we just ASK! Thank you, lovely ladies!

It’s often the little things that truly show appreciation. Nurses work so hard and are giving to a fault, and it’s probably not even fair to only appreciate them for a week. Rather than settling for once-a-year recognition, our nurses told us it’s often better to aim for small, personal expressions of appreciation throughout the day. In fact, Crystal and Jennifer confided that the best way to show them love wasn’t with a cake or party, but with helping them provide the best care for their patients all year long. Nurses feel the most special and appreciated, they said, when their practices help them remove stumbling blocks, offload some of the busy work and support them in providing attentive care to their patients every day.

For another absolutely fabulous article on pens and nurses, read this great piece.

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