Isn’t that sweet? The patient is showing his gratitude for all of the great care that he received while staying at the hospital. In fact, I think that he has fallen head-over-heels in love with his pretty nurse. It’s not surprising. Nurses care about people, and we are patient advocates. When I was a medical-surgical nurse, I remember finding oodles of candy boxes and bouquets of flowers everyday at the nurses station. People showered the nurses on my unit with gifts as their way of saying thank you.

Things really changed when I became a psychiatric nurse. It’s rare when psychiatric patients give candy and flowers to nurses. I’m not saying that we never get goodies from our patients, but psychiatric patients have unique reasons for not giving goodies to their nurses. Paranoid patients are not going to give gifts to nurses who can read their mind and who are trying to kill them with medications. We understand that, and we accept the logic of the situation. We also accept that we aren’t going to get candy and flowers from patients who display inappropriate behavior on the unit. Psychiatric nurses have no problem laying down the law when someone is being a jerk. This makes us unpopular with drug seekers and individuals who are using the hospital as a hideout from the police. And then there is the issue of money. Most of our patients are broke. Many of our patients can’t afford food or decent housing, so we certainly don’t want them spending their money on us.

The nicest gifts that psychiatric nurses receive are homemade thank you cards. Our patients make them for us in art therapy, or when they are watching TV in the dayroom. We really enjoy these mementos. We hang the cards up in the nurses lounge, and in our report room. We keep them up on the walls long after our patients are discharged because they keep us going when we are ready to throw in the towel and quit nursing.

Thank you everyone, and please keep those cards and letters coming.