10 Things Only Nurses Understand

 Rebecca is a nurse at UW Medicine in Seattle. In honor of Nurses Week, she shared a few things only fellow nurses might understand. This small glimpse into a nurse’s world makes us appreciate our everyday superheroes even more! 


#1 - Having the skin of a reptile after washing your hands one million times in eight hours.

You’d think they could come up with hand sanitizer or soap that doesn’t leave a sticky residue and dries out your hands in mere seconds. Until such magical potion is invented, every nurse knows that when in doubt, the answer is hand hygiene!

#2 - Not all nurses wear scrubs.

Nursing is a diverse profession, employing people in many locations other than hospitals! Did you know that nurses work in airplanes, correctional facilities, cruise ships, research labs, and people’s homes as well as in clinics and hospitals? Not all heroes wear capes, and not all nurses wear scrubs - but all nurses do deserve to be acknowledged for the critical work they do!

#3 - That feeling when all you want is a hearty dinner after night shift.

What do you mean no restaurants are serving steak and potatoes at 8AM?! Could I at least get some Chinese takeout? No luck.

#4 - The emotional roller coaster that bowel habits can cause.

Some nurses measure the intensity of the day based on how many code blues they had to participate in, while others will wearily recount the many code browns they had to endure. A quick mention of BRBPR in a handoff report lets a fellow nurse to monitor a patient closely. On the other hand, almost every nurse can tell you about a time when they jumped for joy or high-fived a patient for having a bowel movement after an extended period of constipation!

#5 - Hearing call lights in your sleep.

Is that my alarm or is it just another patient needing help to the bathroom?

#6 - Worrying if your patient hasn’t peed in six hours when you haven’t used the restroom – much less sat down or taken a drink of water – in twelve.

It’s called nurse’s bladder: the impressive (and unhealthy) ability to stave off the urge to pee until every patient has received their medications, all three meals, and a thorough explanation of what the doctor said in rounds. The patient’s needs trump everything, including, unfortunately, nature’s call.

#7 - How rich you would be if you charged a dime for every time a friend or family member asked you to diagnose them.

Unfortunately, Uncle Carl, I work with cardiac surgery patients, so I don’t know what that rash on your foot is. Yes, you probably should see a doctor.

#8 - Each day challenges your endurance.

Most people can sympathize with a nurse whose patient passed away on their shift. However, many people don’t realize that every single day of work comes with ethical challenges and emotional strain for nurses. Whether it’s discharging a patient to an unsafe living environment or juggling lifesaving tasks with your patient’s need for vital education regarding their condition, there is never enough time or energy in twelve hours to do everything that demands your attention.

#9 - Varicose veins before age 30.

Standing on tired legs for eight or twelve hours at a time puts nurses more at risk for varicose veins and subsequent blood clots than almost any other profession! VIM & VIGR’s high-quality, breathable compression socks are essential to any nurse’s wardrobe.

#10 - The satisfaction of saving lives.

For all the complaints we have about bodily fluids and grouchy patients, there is nothing that compares to the reward of knowing that we are saving lives each and every day. From performing CPR to advocating for preventative healthcare, nurses are vital to our communities. If you have been positively impacted by a nurse, make some time this week to tell them thank you! Because the number one thing every nurse knows is that the gratitude of those we serve makes it all worthwhile.

1 comment

  • The Gutzes

    We are so very grateful for nurses; and have thanked them repeatedly. There are some who “just” do their job and others who are angels in scrubs

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