It’s the Thought That Counts
Patricia L Raymond MD FACP FACG
It’s the thought that counts. That’s the phrase you hear when you look at your gift with bewilderment, seeking to understand—why this? Why to me? It usually comes as a set with a phrase about gift horses. And it’s always non-returnable, without a gift receipt.
The phrase leapt into my mind and burrowed there this week when I received an email from one of our local large hospitals about this years’ plans to celebrate Nurses Week. It left me bewildered.
The email, to the physician members of the medical staff, first educated the docs about Nurses’ Week; celebrated annually the week leading up to the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Fair enough; I didn’t know of the specific linkage of the dates.
Then the email went on to tell us of the planned celebration, and I quote: At the April MEC, we decided to recognize the nurses of XXXXX by doing 3 things: --a banner will be hung outside the main entrance of the hospital thanking them for the care they provide; --each nurse on staff will receive a travel coffee mug with a message imprinted on it from the medical staff; and --on Saturday, May 8 we, the medical staff, will provide a free car wash for any and all currently-employed XXXXX nurses that wish to participate. This will be held in the parking lot in front of the Medical Office Building from 9 am to 3 pm. Physician assignments for shifts are being filled now, so if you have any interest in volunteering 2 hours of your time this Saturday, please talk to your respective department chairperson.
The first two underwhelmed me: A banner (yawn.) A coffee mug (yippee, small font intentional and heavily sarcastic). The third confused me.
They’re having the doctors wash the nurse’s cars on Saturday between 9 AM and 3 PM. What was this? Was it supposed to be allegorical, a staff of medical Jesi washing the feet of their disciples?
My brain worked this rubix cube of a gift: But I don’t even wash and detail my own vehicle… and you believe that I’ll do an amazing detail job with yours…and to get your gift you must drive to work on your scant Saturday off within a brief window—wouldn’t you rather get a gift certificate from the car detailing biz just down the street, to use when you choose?…perhaps nurses really want to see their physician colleagues of all sexes in sopping wet tank tops and short shorts—kind of a “Physician Hooters” (although of course we’d go for a more clinical description, like “Mammaries”.)…
Fortunately, I was at a nursing convention when I got this email, so I projected it on the screen during my presentation and asked for feedback. What did the nurses think about these plans?
Not unsurprisingly, our celebration plans met with raspberries topped with derisive laughter.
So, I asked them the question: “Beyond the collegial respect you are due from your doctor associates, what do you really want? What Nurses Week gifts have you enjoyed in the past?”
I got some great answers, suggestions, and ideas: ⌂ A certificate for a meal for themselves and a loved one at a local 4-star restaurant ⌂ Movie tickets ⌂ Chair massages during their workday ⌂ A choice of a perennial plant or a house plant ⌂ A gift certificate for a spa treatment ⌂ A catered meal at the hospital to enjoy with their colleagues ⌂ Raffles throughout the day, evening, and night with “good” prizes—not coffee mugs ⌂ A catered affair after hours at a local museum with access to the museum and IMAX theatre.
Not one of them wanted their physician colleagues to wash their vehicle. Really.
My suggestion to my hospital? Ask the nurses how THEY’D like to celebrate their week, and then go for it. There’s something to be said for getting a gift that you actually want and can use, donch’a think?
Oh, and Happy Nurse’s Week to all of you. You have my respect as a colleague. Just don’t expect to see me outside with a hose.
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