5 Signs Your Patients Adore You

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

As a nurse, you’ve probably had a few favorite patients over the years. Sometimes, these special people are frequent visitors due to chronic health conditions, or they spend weeks under your care for an acute illness. Or they might come and go in a single shift, leaving a memory and a smile. Just as a patient can win your heart, you can also have a big impact on your charges. If you’re used to giving 100 percent and not getting much recognition, it’s nice to occasionally have your efforts rewarded on a personal level. If you’re lucky, here are some of the ways your patients (and their families) might remind you that you’re their favorite nurse.

1. Words of Encouragement
On a bad day, simply having a patient say “Thank you” or remember your name can make things better. Some patients go the extra mile in making your job feel worthwhile. They let you know in no uncertain terms that your presence, attitude and skills are making their medical ordeal more bearable. Kind words are especially important for new nurses. Hearing a patient tell you that you really do have what it takes to make it in this tough profession can be a life raft that you cling to when things get rocky over the years.

2. Personal Gifts
Regardless of whether your hospital has a policy against accepting gifts, occasionally a patient might really want to give you a present. Some nurses say they have been offered small trinkets, gifts worth several hundred dollars, and even bottles of wine or vodka. A few patients also offer money if that’s all they have at hand to give. Navigating these situations can be awkward, but the thought always counts. One gift that nurses report appreciating (that doesn’t violate any policies) is a sketch, poem or song created in their honor. That’s the kind of token of appreciation that might find a place on your wall in a nice frame.

3. Bring on the Food
Donuts, coffee, even a snack from the vending machine can be a patient’s way of letting you know you’re doing a fantastic job. Those with family members who cook may treat you to homemade baked goods, a pan of tamales or the best curry you’ve ever eaten. If your patient likes you enough to buy food, they will often treat your coworkers as well. This can make you very popular! The rules about accepting gifts tend to be less stringently enforced when food is involved. Of course, if you think you might get in trouble, you can always eat the evidence….

4. Thank-You Notes
A handwritten note or a phone call after discharge is always an appropriate and appreciated sign of goodwill from a patient. In addition to a personal thank-you, nurses are extra lucky when a patient or family member sends a letter of recommendation to their supervisor or the hospital administrator. That’s the kind of thing that can make it easier to get a promotion or a raise!

5. Hugs, Hugs, Hugs
Some patients have nothing to give but heartfelt affection. A warm hug from a patient may cross the boundaries of professional conduct, but it sure feels good. Words of praise can be cheap or insincere, but body language doesn’t lie. These patients really do think you hung the moon.

What’s the nicest way a patient has ever let you know they think you’re doing a fantastic job? Share in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. A Greek patient I had for several days was being discharged. After going through all the paperwork, he thanked me profusely for taking care of him. He than asked if he could arrange for me to meet his brother. I said no. He than asked if he and his wife could take me out for dinner. Again, I declined. I explained that I couldn’t accept gifts, but that it was my honor to be his nurse. I suggested he take his wife out for dinner, at a nice restaurant.

  2. Two events stick out for me. The first was when I worked CCU and a older gentleman with a fresh MI came in. I got him settled down by talking about fly fishing. When he was successfully discharged, he left me four hand-tied flies (one per day I cared for him – that has been 20 years ago and I still have them). The second event was more recent – I work correctional health part time and one of my ‘clients’ saw me after his release. In a ‘free world’ setting, he stopped me and thanked me for caring and not showing any judgement.

  3. I once had a patient who I tended to on and off for extended periods of time. I washed and curled her hair when we had time over the weekend shift. In appreciation she sent me c/o the hospital a pair of “Diamond” earrings with a note saying she wished they were real because I was a diamond to her

  4. I had a patient once look at me from a reclined position with a look of longing in their eyes saying, “Are you coming back tomorrow?” like they so wished I would be back… It was the best compliment I ever received.

  5. its nice to hear from a patient/resident that you are his/ her sunshine and making them feel good. It’s true it’s not what you do that they remember most but how you made them feel. Compassion is indeed important when you are a nurse.

  6. I like it when my patients or their family make me laugh. Yesterday I said to my male patient after a procedure, “you need to take it easy for 24 hours, this is your opportunity to have your wife do everything for you.” He looked at his wife and said, “hun I want a pony.” I busted out laughing. Of all the things I didn’t expect him to ask for a pony 😂

    Today I offered ice chips to my patient after a procedure and the moment she put it in her mouth she said, “ummmm I love you, love you.” I knew she meant ice chips but I responded, love you too. Her husband couldn’t stop laughing. We all laughed.

    My female patient had a warm blanket still attached to her although it was not connected to the warmer and she asked me what it was, before I responded her husband said, darling you are not in a body bag, you are very much alive, it’s a warm blanket, my patient and I busted out laughing.

    The other day my patient was really not feeling well, her husband was at bedside. He was very caring and concerned. I said to my patient, “you trained your husband really well, when you feel better I need you to give me lessons on how I can train my husband.” My patient laughed, with a weak laugh but she laughed. The husband turned to me and said, “I haven’t seen my wife laughing in 2 weeks, and you just made her laugh, thank you and he gave me a hug. One of the best days of my career.

    I sure have so much fun with my patients, I honestly love what I do.

  7. I work at an HIV clinic. Today we had one of our new guys come in for follow up blood work. When he got ready to leave he asked if he could hug the other nurse and I he said he’d been so scared when he got his diagnosis and was terrified to come to the clinic.he told us that after he had his first visit ,he felt so much better about his health. Of course we hugged him. I’ve been a nurse 48 years and still love it to hear that I’ve touched someone’s life.

  8. When I turned 70, I cut down to only 1 12 hr shift per wk in the LTC facility I have worked at for 12 yr. It is so nice when the residents are happy to see me on the day I come in. They will say they missed me, or know it will be a good day if I am there, or will say “It’s my lucky day, you’re here”.

  9. After getting off work on the night shift,four of us decided to go across the street and have breakfast. We sat for awhile chatting after we were through eating. When we got to the register to pay our bills, the waitress said our breakfast was already paid for. We asked who paid for it? She said it was the man that was sitting behind us. He told her to tell us that he knew we weren’t the nurses that saved his grandchild, but he hoped that this would show his thanks for all that nurses do. This is a memory that I’ve held dear since 1983.


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