It’s often someone you meet by chance that makes the difference you didn’t know you needed. These moments bring wonderful opportunities to reflect on why we are thankful for nurses and how they make a difference.
When a person or a member of their family needs nursing care, feelings of stress, worry, and uncertainty set in. We feel vulnerable and afraid — for ourselves and for those who matter most to us. While we often prioritize the physical, medical care that we or our loved ones are receiving, we can underestimate the importance of the emotional support from our caregivers.
Here, we share personal Thank You, Nurses stories and videos as a gesture of gratitude for everything you and your colleagues do. This small token of appreciation is just one reminder of how your kindness in a single shift can be felt for a lifetime.
The nurse who made a difference
In the late winter of 2019, Natalie Vaughn and her husband made final preparations for their second daughter’s arrival into the world. Having experienced complications with previous pregnancies, Vaughn’s pregnancy was considered high risk, and she (like most expecting parents) counted down the days until her due date. Things were going as planned, and her baby was healthy. Relief had finally set in. Then COVID-19 entered the world’s stage.
What had been a countdown to relief became a new and complex worry. At this point in a pregnancy, most women are eager to get to the hospital and meet their baby, but Vaughn was a bundle of nerves. “If someone had given me the option of a natural home birth, I would have taken it hands-down out of fear of the virus’s exposure in the hospital,” she said.
Vaughn recalls noticing the uncertainty and cautious vibe within the hospital at that time. “Our care team was amazing. I never doubted their commitment or decisions,” she said. “But in the early days of the pandemic, there was an unsettling tension in the air. It was clear everyone was worried — some hiding it better than others.”
During their time in the hospital delivering their baby girl, Vaughn recalled one nurse who managed to do what she thought couldn’t be done.
“Our labor and delivery nurse, Nikita, brought this genuine, lighthearted in joy, in the delivery room,” she shared. “I was so focused on simply getting our new baby home safely with the uncertainty of the pandemic – I never expected to have such a fun, bonding experience with my nurse.”
Vaughn has kept in touch with Nurse Nikita and sends her a Christmas card every year so she can see the baby she helped deliver continue to grow.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to convey just how much she helped us on what was undoubtedly one of the most stressful days in our lives,” Vaughn said. “But I’ll always appreciate her amazing care. Knowing your nurse recognizes your physical and mental health so naturally is something you don’t forget.”
Vaughn’s complete Thank You, Nurses video is available here.
The nurse who felt like family
For Aaron Lay, his father’s homecare nurse made all the difference in the world. Nurse James provided such genuine care, that he not only became a friend to his father but went above and beyond as any family member would.
Lay explained, “In 1983, my father was injured in a coal mining accident. And while he continued to lead a pretty full life, his last five years were extra tough, leaving him on mostly constant bedrest.” Aside from the physical complications, the emotional toll was perhaps harder to help at times. “My dad was a really vibrant, outgoing guy who loved to fish and go out with friends,” Lay said. “I know he suffered from boredom and loneliness more than he was willing to share with us.”
After Nurse James was assigned to care for Lay’s father, he noticed a change in his demeanor, noting a friendship that immediately formed. Nurse James would often visit his father on his free time because he truly valued his company.
“They took brotherly jabs at each other while watching football or just hung out eating candy, laughing at the little things,” Lay recalled.
Nurse James also occasionally ran errands or picked up groceries after his shift ended. Aside from providing excellent clinical care, the bond that Nurse James shared with Lay’s father improved his health in a very meaningful way. “The care that James gave my dad helped him feel better, but the friendship he provided helped my dad live. And for that, I’m eternally grateful,” Lay said.
Lay’s complete Thank You, Nurses video is available here.
The nurses who prayed for strength
In October 2021, Kelli Slade’s mother was diagnosed with ALS. “We are a strong close-knit family, and my mother’s diagnosis truly rocked our world,” Slade said.
The following winter, Slade accompanied her mother to a doctor’s appointment, but before she could make it out of the car, she passed out, unable to move. “I don’t remember much about that day, but I do remember frantically running into the facility for anybody to help me and my mom,” Slade recalled. “I watched as several nurses ran to my mom, and one nurse in particular, Nurse Michelle, began to pray over my mom.”
Slade is forever moved by their kindness and compassion for a patient and a family member who were strangers to them before that day.
Weeks later, Slade’s mother passed away, and she continued to find strength from the prayers Nurse Michelle and her colleagues shared. “It was because of Michelle and others that prayed with us that kept not only us strong, but my mom strong as well,” Slade noted. “Thank you for everything you did. It can’t be replaced.”
Slade’s complete Thank You, Nurses video is available here.
The nurses who saved a life
In 2019, Sanantanita Burnette experienced flu-like symptoms and went to see her doctor. Suspecting something more serious, her doctor advised her to go to the emergency room, where she was quickly transferred to the intensive care unit. Burnette was suffering from an infection that turned into sepsis. As a rapidly progressing condition, sepsis is a leading cause of mortality in hospitals. Burnette was scared, and understandably so.
She credits the care of nursing team with not only saving her life, but also taking extra care to assure her young daughter that her mother was going to be OK. Burnette recalled the kind words her nurses shared in a handwritten card that was mailed days after she was discharged. “I would like to say thank you to my nurses. You literally saved my life,” Burnette noted.
Burnette’s complete Thank You, Nurses video is available here.
Thank you, nurses
Like never before, the world can see how much nurses do to make a difference. Nurses care for people in their hour of need and show compassion for patients and their families during that time. This holiday season, our Thank You, Nurses blog and video series is one way we’d like to acknowledge the lasting impact a nurse’s compassion can provide.