99 Essential Nursing Truths (Part 1)


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99. Never walk onto a peaceful, well-functioning unit and say: “Quiet night.”

98. The most hellish patient assignments are strictly reserved for when you show up to work hungover.

97. When you need a hemostat, you will only have a pair of scissors. When you need a pair of scissors, you will only have a hemostat.

96. Patients in the very worst pain will almost never report a 10/10 pain score.

95. Nothing beats the exhilaration of successfully placing your very first IV.

94. Chin to chest, when dropping an NG, never works as well as it should.

93. Coffee and Pepsi: the magic ingredients to unclogging a Dobhoff tube.

92. If you delay going to lunch for any reason, even just to chart a quick set of vitals, then you will not be going to lunch. Something will come up … ONE HUNDRED percent of the time.

91. There is no delicate way to tell family members they are agitating your ICU patient, so don’t even try. Just bump up that Fentanyl drip.

90. The unit secretary runs the unit.

89. Your non-nursing friends will never, ever understand.

88. If you can make it to 2AM, then the rest of night shift is smooth sailing.

87. When it comes to needles, the biggest crybabies of all are tattooed, tough-looking men in their twenties.

86. Your job is maddening, difficult, demanding. But nursing aides shoulder an absolutely impossible workload.

85. Housekeeping is an invaluable hospital service. Learn the housekeepers’ names, smile when you see them, ask about their children, and thank them for their hard, good work.

84. People are shitting and pissing machines. You will work entire shifts when you swear all you did was clean up poop.

83. Tube feeds are the most toxic and revolting substance known to man. That’s just science.

82. Many years after you retire, you will still remember the smell of GI-bleedy stool.

81. Male nurses: flirt with your geriatric female patients. Make them giggle. Make them blush. It’s therapeutic — for both of you.

80. Above all else, our patients need two things: to get restful sleep, and to feel like human beings. It’s insane how often we forget this.

79. Your first six months as a nurse, you will think you made the biggest mistake of your life. Know that every new nurse goes through this. Stick with it. You owe yourself at least one year. It gets better.

78. And know when to step away. This gig isn’t for everyone.

77. Find a way to be useful — even if it’s just stocking gloves. (This goes double for nursing students.)

76. You are not “just a nurse.” You are A NURSE.

75. St Patrick’s Day weekend is the busiest time of the year. That’s Head Bleed Central. Expect to be called into work.

74. You will observe a steep increase in patient mortality rates during the month of July. (Only nurses who work in teaching hospitals will get this joke.)

73. Put the letters “RN” after your name at every opportunity. Sign your checks that way. You’ve earned it.

72. Be proud of your salary. You’re worth every penny.

71. It’s good pay, and never quite good enough.

70. Set high standards, for yourself and others. Represent the field honorably and well. Remember what those before you went through and sacrificed … and be grateful for how this profession has evolved.

69. Sweet Granny May does crossword puzzles by day … and becomes a raging hellion come nightfall. It’s really something!

68. Ain’t no one got time to cover a blood glucose of 143.

67. When in doubt, the answer to that baffling NCLEX question is “clubbing.”

66. You will rarely, if ever, see actual clubbing.

65. Scribbling fishbone labs down on a paper towel is a time-honored practice.

64. The break room is no place for salads. Comfort foods here ONLY.

63. Perfection is expected, and impossible.

62. There are no superheroes, no saints, in nursing. Just hungry, exhausted people, trying their best to do their best.

61. When an ICU nurse says his patient is “really sick,” he is talking about a level of sickness and disease incomprehensible to people outside of the field.

60. Don’t try to explain what you do to the normals. They will experience it themselves, in their own time.

59. Pray for your patients. It’s clinically proven to improve outcomes.

58. If nothing else, you can always talk to your patients about their pets. Watch their eyes light up.

57. Animal therapy is magic. A very underutilized, and unexplored, aspect of our practice.

56. Ditto art therapy.

55. Working a 12-hour shift without a proper lunch break is an unsafe practice, and must be abolished from our culture. Insisting upon an uninterrupted lunch break does not make you lazy; it makes you prudent, reasonable, professional — and human. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

54. Plan away, but you will ALWAYS forget something crucial after gowning up and entering a room.

53. Auscultating bowel sounds for five straight minutes in each quadrant is one of the many ludicrous and completely insane things you will learn in nursing school.

52. The nurse who knows how to set firm boundaries is doing her patients a great, loving service.

51. Family members are universally annoying, and also suffering greatly.

50. The richest doctor in the hospital just walked off with your stethoscope.

(Stay tuned for 99 Essential Nursing Truths: Part 2 — coming next week. Sign up for the NurseRants newsletter to stay abreast of new posts. Or follow NurseRants on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading!)

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