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10 Things to Never Say to a Nurse

Let’s face it: Nursing is a job that requires a powerful gut that can withstand the most disgusting, most stomach-crunching, most out-of-this-world scenarios. Nurses are always within the environmental limits of human excreta, blood, and other fluids. Together with this, nurses are always in contact with various clients, doctors, dieticians, housekeeping staff, and all other types of people every day.

Nurses do not only get to withstand the “organic” part of their job; they also get to control their temper around people who seem to just tip over the line of patience and professionalism. Nurses talk to people, and I mean a LOT of people every day, and sometimes, people just do not get it. Here are 10 things to NEVER say to a nurse:

1. “Hiiiiiiiiiiiii/Helooooooooooooo Nurse!”

A nurse is NEVER meant to be called like that, EVER. Nurses went through 4 years of mind-boggling college and then took an exam that certifies them with the possession of skills needed to perform the duties and responsibilities of the profession within the Standards of Professional Nursing. Do not be like a teenager who calls nurses like this. It annoys us, big time.


2. “Do you only date people in the medical field, especially doctors?”

NO. Dating a co-worker who you see every day is just nuts. The hospital gossip will spread like wildfire, and soon enough, the entire hospital will be looking and will be prying over your relationship. It will pressure you EVERY WORKING DAY of your life. And regarding doctors, will I want to date a person who is ALWAYS busy, is CONSTANTLY stressed, has TONS of money, and has an ENORMOUS ego? I like the money part but in exchange for the other 3? I’ll pass.

3. “I saw CPR and other nursing stuff on TV. It’s not the same as what you do.”

Hello, that is TV, TV, TV. It is meant to entertain, and it is NOT accurate. I once saw this movie where de-fibrillation was done on a patient in asystole, and I laughed so hard. The CPR performed was incredibly awful, and I was like, “Hahahahaha!” all the time. What we do here, inside a medical facility, is the right thing. It is VERY (if not COMPLETELY) different from what is shown on the boob tube.  Stop watching Grey’s Anatomy, or House, MD, or Scrubs too much. =)


4. “Nurses are just assistants of doctors.”

Assistants? Not! Nurses and doctors work hand-in-hand. Nurses are under the Nursing Service, and doctors fall under the Medical Service. These are totally different departments. Doctors and Nurses work together. Simply put, “Doctors diagnose. Nurses save lives”, as quoted by Edie Falco of Nurse Jackie. Often, nurses are the ones who know what is actually going on in real-time, and nurses will always be the one who will initiate CPR and other life-saving measures in the absence of Attendings.

5. “What is taking so long?”

This is very annoying. I am a nurse, and I look out for other clients too. This is especially true for the Nurses in the Emergency Department. Do not rush us. We know your needs and others as well. We might already be doing CPR on another client, saving his/her life as you wait. Simply put, if we keep you waiting, you are MOST LIKELY NOT to DIE. Congratulations!


6. “Can I get some medications? You can ask the pharmacy, right?”

We cannot prescribe medications. PERIOD. Talk to your Attending about this.

7. “What exactly does a nurse do?”

For the nth time, we nurses: administer medications, give orders, carry out orders, initiate emergency measures, chart, handle stress, talk to almost everyone, care for clients. I can describe our profession in four words: caring and saving lives.

8. “You are JUST a nurse.”

I studied four years of college, memorizing drugs and complex pathophysiologies just to know how to properly care for my clients. I was trained on how to defibrillate, cannulate, administer medications, perform basic diagnostics, assess, intervene, and more. I took a licensure exam which qualifies me for the profession. I initiate CPR, and I know what to do when your heart stops beating, literally. Yes, I am JUST a nurse, and you are JUST alive.

PS: This goes out to LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) too. You are NURSES, too, period.

nurse just

9. “Anyone can be a nurse.”

Can you, let’s say: keep track of dozens of medications, assess and manage 20 patients, perform emergency measures like CPR, update 40 Attendings, handle blood, body fluids, chopped fingers, eviscerated organs, and chart everything correctly and accurately? If you can, welcome aboard!

Nursing is not for everyone, and that is why not everyone is a nurse. It requires a special set of skills (and patience, plus perseverance). Whoever says this, I have got to see them try.

10. “Why are you NOT a doctor? They are better than nurses.”

Now, this is just disrespectful. It is my choice that I do not want to be a doctor. People say this, but they do not realize that it is the nurse who is at the bedside when emergency measures are needed. Doctors are great people, and they manage the condition medically, but it is the nurse who monitors the client and intervenes in real-time. Lives are literally in our hands. It is NOT true that doctors are better than nurses. As the saying goes: “Behind every good doctor is a better nurse!”

doctor nurse

Nurses, be patient.

Article by JD Gopez

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