13 Problems Only Nurses Will Understand


If it’s wet and not yours, use gloves.

Do you remember what weekends are? Are you so immune to undesirable body fluids that you no longer have a gag reflex to suppress? Can you hold in a pee for hours, if your hectic job requires it? If you answered yes to all three questions – you’re probably a nurse.

Now, everyone thinks they know what a nurse is: the romanticised versions on Grey’s Anatomy probably help form the disastrously erroneous illusion they’re all sex-mad bimbos. Let’s be straight, though – if there was one thing the nurses in TV and movies wouldn’t be interested in (if they portrayed the profession realistically), it’d be sex.

Who has the energy for nooky after a 12 hour shift flipping angry, disorientated patients back into bed and being covered in green bile at sporadic intervals throughout the day? Ha! Oh, the media.

It’s impossible to convey exactly how much a nurse does if you’re not in that world – understaffed and overworked – which is exactly what makes the bond between you and your team-mates so magical. You’ll find a special kind of love within your nursey workforce: you know, like an ‘I’ll hold the butt cheeks while you clean the crack’ kinda love.

One thing’s for sure – laughter is definitely the best medicine, and not just for the patients…

13. When Friends Think You’re Actually Gonna Be Shocked By Their Embarrassing Problems

Micro penis? Gynae issues? Dodgy stools? We’ve dealt with more third nipples and genital warts than Dr Christian Jessen – and it’s going to take a hell of a lot of grossness to even extract a flinch from us now.

12. Hearing The Dreaded Words “Oh, You’re A Nurse! Let Me Ask You…”

On further deliberation of the previous point; just because we’re not shocked by problems, doesn’t mean we want to hear about them over nibbles at a mate’s dinner bash.

You only met this person 15 minutes ago and you already know how many bouts of recurring thrush they’ve had this year. Somebody pass the wine, pronto.

11. Pretty Much Needing An Enigma Machine To Decrypt Doctors’ Handwriting

Once upon a time, doctors from all corners of the land met at an evil conference: there they devised the most torturous form of communication known to man! Seriously, trying to decode some doctor’s pen jots is harder than unraveling an ancient manuscript.

Is that 20mg or 2? Is that a zero or some kind of Ampersand written with a vibrating pen? We all know the truth here, and that’s the fact a lot of scientific spellings are totally beyond them, so they merely scribble to hide their shame. We’re onto you, Docs!

Just quit your jobs while you’re ahead and pursue a career in captcha writing.

10. You’re Able To Devour Your Entire Lunch In 0.24 Seconds Flat

One thing they don’t teach you in nursing school is the fine art of speed-eating.

The beauty (if you can call it that) of a nurse is that everything come secondary to your own basic human functions. The same goes for toilet time – that minute and a bit perched on a toilet seat is sheer luxury during a busy shift.

9. When Someone So Much As Even Mentions The Word ‘Quiet’

“Quiet today, isn’t it?”

Stop, stop, stop – what are you doing?! Curse us, curse us all! Everyone knows saying that word is simply begging for trouble. Next thing you know you’re knee deep in a Code Blue, your favourite unruly patient is demanding to pee, and another just pooped everywhere. Ah, and would you look at that – your favourite challenging family just arrived and the pharmacy is calling.

Are you one person, or twenty?

8. Forever Making Your Friends Puke With Work Stories

For most people, a good day at work is one where they’ve gotten their tasks finished smoothly, on time, and maybe even impressed the boss.

In your case, a successful day is one you haven’t seen anyone die or masturbate. Yup – if we say we’ve had a sh*t day, we really have had a sh*t day. Like, literally.

7. When A Patient Thinks They’re On Their Death Bed (Thanks To Google)

Maybe if you refrained from reading Web MD you’d feel better?

Can’t we just remove that website of fear from the Internet, already? It’s a little tricky comforting a patient who thinks they’ve got a brain tumour purely because they typed ‘head pains’ into a search engine.

6. When A Patient Is Adamant Their Pain Meds Aren’t Working

The only thing you can do: be patient with a patient who is 100% not patient. No doubt they’ll threaten to report you for “not doing your job” too – and all because you can’t give them another dose for four hours. Deep breaths, now.

5. When Your Friends Start With The TFIF Posts On Facebook

Hurray for Friday! Oh, wait…

Anyone who thinks Mondays are bad should try weekends, holidays, and those positively ravishing 12 hour nights. You won’t be posting on Facebook after all that – you’ll be in a candlelit bath supping a gigantic glass of wine with whale music in the background.

4. When You’re Getting A Report On A Patient That’s An Absolute Trainwreck

Every ward has one: they’ll probably report their pain level above a 10 and make your life a living nightmare until they’re discharged.

You can’t fix crazy, you can only document it.

Just thank the lord for Lorazepam.

3. When You’re A Male In The Profession And People Automatically Assume You’re The Doctor

Cue “Gaylord Focker” references and questions of sexual orientation.

Thankfully, male nurses are more widely regarded as a norm now, but that doesn’t stop people asking why you chose the profession in the first place – like it’s completely out of the question for the beer-swigging, hunter-gatherer all men are obviously supposed to be. Women are from Venus, men are from Mars: well, nurses are nurses, and that’s that.

2. When You’re Asked To Do Overtime

My desire for overtime pay is substantially less than my desire to be here – I’m afraid I must ferociously decline the offer and run from the building as fast as my weary nurse-bones can carry me.

1. Forever Hearing “Nurse! Nurse! [Insert Expletive Here] NURSE!”

Yup. You know you’re a nurse when this is all you hear; day in, day out, and then even go to bed hearing the same words. Still, for all the curses, rages, misunderstandings and sheer ignorance that comes part and parcel with the role; you wouldn’t change it for the world (well, maybe the rages… and the ignorance… actually if the poop could go too that would be great?).

Barfing, puking, and exasperating patients aside: no other job gives the kind of satisfaction that comes with being a nurse. From the first breaths of a baby, to the last of the elderly: you’re present at the most personal, precious moments of people’s lives. It requires ultimate compassion, respect, and patience; qualities that don’t come naturally to everyone. For every horror movie patient, there are a dozen that touch your soul, and make it all worthwhile.


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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