Some days are better than others, but I have to say that I do generally feel appreciated in my work. In my present job, I travel throughout the hospital, transporting patients or running errands, and most of the people I interact with are pretty decent. I take a lot of patients out for discharge and have to decline tips on a regular basis, and actually had one patient's family write a nice letter about me to our CEO. (That certainly didn't hurt my feelings!)
We also get nice cards and letters from patients, sometimes for a particular nurse or aid, but often for the whole nursing staff, and a few times have had patients come back to say hi after a particularly difficult stay. It's always nice to see someone healthy again.
We also get a decent amount of appreciation from management. We usually get a nice little cash bonus around Christmas, and our Director and Manager sometimes spring for pizza or other take out, sometimes as an incentive, but often just as a thank you after a particularly busy run. In my last couple of evaluations, I was considerably harder on myself than my supervisor was--nursing school has gobbled up a lot of my attention, and my work has definitely suffered, but the consensus from higher up is that I still get the basics done, and if I have to "coast" a little on the "extras", at least it's for a good cause.
I don't think I've worked a shift in two years without at least half a dozen people asking me how nursing school is going.
I know there are people where I work who take a much more jaded view of things, but I think part of the reason I still enjoy my job is that I'm grateful for the little gestures, like having pizzas brought in, or just a memo in the newsletter that we're doing a good job. I figure my paycheck is what I'm owed for the work I do, and while a pat on the back or a ticket for a free cappucino might not be something to do backflips over, it's still something nice.