Nurses are Intangible Gifts

Happy Holidays! We are in the heart of the holiday season. I thoroughly enjoy this time of year! I enjoy the act of gift giving to others. I know many of you who are reading this do as well. We tend to think of gifts as tangible. Tangible gifts are things that can be wrapped such as toys, clothes and coveted wish list items. Yet, gifts can also be intangible.  Intangible gifts are things that cannot be purchased. Intangible gifts are often invaluable to their receivers.

So, what is an example of an intangible gift? I’ve heard parents often describe the birth of their children as gifts. I’ve also had moments where I received some help that was unexpected but very necessary at the point in time. That help from someone else was a gift to me. I’m sure many of us have had moments like that in our lives and/or stepped in for others in those moments. While there are many intangible gifts around us, I’d like to describe my belief that nurses are intangible gifts.

intangible gift

Nurses spend their time at work caring for others who are not able to care for themselves at that time. Nurses can be found in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, outpatient facilities, emergency rooms, patient homes and many other locations to make an impact on a person’s life. Nurses care for people who have a need for their health. No one wants to need medical attention. Yet, we all know that it is something that may occur at some point in our lives.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were sick or not feeling well and the standard over the counter measures were not helping? I have, and I AM a nurse! I can tell you that the need for medical attention creates a feeling of vulnerability and uncertainty to which you must place your faith and trust into another human being whose job is to care for you. If you are anything like me, this can be an uncomfortable and worrisome feeling.

Yet, when you are feeling better and no longer in the need of a nurse’s care, this overwhelming feeling of gratitude appears and is often expressed as, ‘Thank You’. I’ve also heard families say to nurses, “I don’t know what we would have done without you” or “I don’t know how we could ever repay you.” These expressions reveal the gift of nursing care. As nurses, all we want is for you to feel better and heal to the extent that is possible. We want to help and are there to help. Being able to give our gift of nursing care to others makes us feel as though we are making a difference in the lives of others.


I’d like to share two stories that bring the idea that nurses are intangible gifts to life. Just two days ago, I caught a headline about a school nurse helping a student who had a stroke at school. A young boy in Tennessee suddenly required medical attention at school. The school nurse, Carrie Stephenson, called EMS to bring the boy to the hospital. Her intervention helped the young boy and his outlook is reported as good. The boy’s mother is quoted as saying:

‘“This is going to be one of the best Christmases. Ms. Carrie has given me a gift,” Isaiah’s mother, Deborah Griffin, said Monday. “It’s just the most precious gift she could have given me.”’

The school nurse, Carrie Stephenson, told the news: “I would just consider myself an everyday nurse that I would hope any nurse would do.” () She was a lifesaver to the child yet maintains her humility throughout as most nurses do. This is just one of many stories that demonstrate how valuable nurses are to the lives of others.


Now, nurses do not stop caring for others when they are off the job. This next story I am so excited to share with you all. I am a member of a nursing group called Show me your Stethoscope (SMYS) ( This group of over 600,000 nurses is a collaborative and supportive environment to empower the nursing community in their effort to deliver the best possible care to their patients. During their time off from their nursing roles, members of this group find ways to support others who could use the help.


For the holiday season, SMYS opened their hearts to 31 families in a program the group refers to as Christmas Families. Families that were unlikely to be able to provide their children with a happy holiday, submitted their story to the group. Together, the members of SMYS worked through every Christmas Family list to complete the requested items and ensure that they would be able to have a Christmas for their families. To see this happening each day was remarkable and demonstrated true generosity and compassion for others. I was thoroughly impressed with these efforts.

In addition to the Christmas Families, SMYS also donated 54 pairs of pajamas for the Nurse’s Children’s Foundation (NCF). The NCF helps children that are in foster care and have lost a parent that was a nurse. The NCF travels to foster homes and shelters on Christmas Day and gives gifts to the children. Think of the smiles that those children will have from the generosity of others that they don’t even know.

Nurses give their intangible gifts to others who need it every day in many different forms. I know that these stories are not the only ones demonstrating the giving nature of nurses during this holiday season. We are very lucky to have over 3.6 million nurses in the United States to help and support us when in need. Lastly, I just want to mention that while many of us will have the weekend off work to spend with our friends and families, many nurses will be working to ensure that their patients are receiving the necessary care. So, if you happen to know one of these nurses, be sure to thank them for their efforts and commitment to their profession this holiday season.