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10 soothing phrases no nurse wants to hear

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AbleStock.com | ThinkStock

You know when you have a bad day? I mean, a really, really bad day? And you get home, or meet non-nursing friends for a drink after work, and somebody tries to calm you down?

And then you turn into Huge Green Monster Nurse and start smashing glassware?

These are the phrases that do it for me.

10. “Don’t worry; tomorrow’s another day.” That is exactly what I’m worried about.

9. “It’s a 24-hour job, you know.” I know I can trust my coworkers, but sometimes it feels like *my* 24 hours.

8. “I’m sure nobody will notice.” That I dropped a bottle of gazillion-dollar medication, hemolyzed blood samples and had a patient fall? My inbox disagrees with you.

7. “We’ve all been there.” Dear, if your office job has caused you to be covered in poop and vomit, with a patient swinging as you try to put down an NG tube, I’d love to hear about it.

6. “But you only work three (four) days a week!” You. Have. No. Idea.

5. “At least nurses get paid well.” Not enough, my friend. Not nearly enough.

4. “Well, you’re off now!” Aaaand I have to go back in (checks watch) seven hours.

3. “But you get three (four) days off a week!” I need every one of them. Seriously.

2. “It’s not as hard a job as being a soldier.” I’m not disputing that at all, but a bad day is a bad day.

And the No.1 thing guaranteed to land your butt in the next room if you say it to me?

1. “Oh, my day was worse.” As I once told a paramour, “Darling, a bad day for you is when somebody doesn’t tip. A bad day for me is when somebody dies.”

What would you add to the list?

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Agatha Lellis

Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at askauntieaggie@gmail.com.
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69 Responses to 10 soothing phrases no nurse wants to hear

  1. pamhighgate@rogers.com

    Why
    Why do wash your hands before you go to the bathroom ?your friends ask.

    • pacuLnDRN

      No one is holding a gun to my head but it does feel good to vent!

  2. Jmugg3

    I’ve really enjoyed following your articles on FB, jmugg3

  3. nursemate93

    The one that REALLY sets me OFF IS ! “All nurses do is pass meds give shots and chart.” SERIOUSLY?

  4. Sarz1066 Student

    “Nights is easier though because your Pts sleep.” This is upsetting because a lot of people must think noc nurses just babysit. Try having 4-5 total cares, dementia patients, incontinence/urgency issues, and no CNA some days. And I’m in Ca with ratios! Not sure how other states manage in similar situations. Let’s not forget these Pts do have medications at all hours of the night with the bonus of being grouchy about being woken up.

    Let’s just say every shift has it’s challenges!

    • jaishields81

      Having been a patient before, I don’t sleep well in the hospital, and so I am awake more, I have seen what nurses do at night. I applaud the noc nurses. It isn’t my cup of tea, but I appreciate that you are doing it.

    • Ohpruenella

      Plus they give you more patients to take care of, and you need to clean up all the stuff day shift doesn’t have time for.

      • Josh Zandi

        Day shift is far too busy! *rolls eyes*

        • jayhanig

          I have worked for 18 years at the hospital bedside, mostly in orthopedics but I do have ICU experience as well, and I have worked every shift. I worked nights for years because it was the easiest of the three. First shift is incredibly busy due to meds, meals, family and visitors, and doctors coming and going all shift long writing orders. In orthopedics, 2nd shift was even worse, as we got much of the same as 1st shift with the added pleasures of fresh postops and emergency admissions. Nights didn’t have to deal with meals or many doctors, but everything else was still applicable. We got all the crap the other shifts didn’t get to dumped in our laps and we had the least amount of staff to get it done with.

          I stand by my assertion 3rd shift was the easiest… but you need to know before you roll your eyes the next time in ignorance… that NONE of them is easy. They all suck the life out of you in their own special way. You leave looking like a raisin after 1st shift. You leave looking like a raisin after 3rd shift… maybe a little bigger because they didn’t suck you dry completely, but still looking like a raisin. So check that attitude about one shift vs another.

    • cgadd71

      I worked nights a long time ago, not too long ago after a memory lapse I agreed to pick up a night shift. I felt like I had been hit by a bus, only two of my patients tried to sleep and they were kept up by the demented gentleman I had whose bowel prep had kicked in. He spent the entire night screaming for me to give him something so he would stop going to the bathroom.

    • bratlisa22

      I’m in Virginia where there is no such thing as nurse to patient ratios. I work nights and my average census is around 53. So i work a 53:1 ratio. On a average night I have 2 CNA’s. So I totally understand the annoyance when people assume working nights is EASY. It’s anything but.

  5. jaishields81

    4 days off? Yeah, 2 1/2 of those we are sleeping, the last 1 1/2 we are taking care of our families, kids, dinners, school functions, husbands, our own well being, etc.

    • IAAMN23

      Cool thing is you get 4 days off to take care of your dinner, kids, family, husband, school, well being, and whatever else. Most everyone else only gets 2 days. Consider yourself lucky.

      • bug72005

        Really? Your 9-5 jon is way different than our 7a-7 job or 7p-7a job. And when we go to bed our minds are racing about what we just felt with and how we need to get back into normal role . Conside YOURSELF lucky!

        • IAAMN23

          It’s funny. I am a registered nurse. I do have an education. Started Med/Surg for a year on nights. Transferred to PCU days for another year. Transferred back to nights to begin my training as an ICU nurse. I love my job and am thankful I have it. No other profession on earth gives the same reward as nursing. I work 3-4 nights a week and still have more time to spend with my kids and tending duties around the house than my poor wife who works a job she hates from 8-5, 5 days a week stuck in a cubicle. Funny you should assume I don’t do the same job as you. I just am grateful. :)

          • cardio12

            Nobody has pointed out that your experience as a nurse is limited and though that allows you some input it doesnt give you much credit….there are multiple factors and how a nurse feels toward her job….in so saying that the most frustrated nurses are the floor nurses on a busy floor (more than one yr experience)…so I see why you are so grateful and everyone else is whiny ( some really are I agree)….I congratulate you on getting off thefloor as soon as you did or else you would be on the same boat as the people who attacked you…

        • IAAMN23

          Oh, and most importantly, I do consider myself lucky. I get to save lives for a living. If fact, I’m the luckiest person I know. Spell check your work next time. It will help make you look more professional.

          • Susan Duvall Ghostreich

            Funny, you should mention spell-check…

  6. nurse2005

    when the dr rolls in…. writes 10 orders and leaves……and you cant read half of them….ugh…and as he is leaving he says “have a good eve”….

    • nurse68

      I hate it when the DR calls at 11 am and says ” I’ll be there in 3 minutes to do rounds on one entire wing and have everything ready for me when I get there.

    • Ohpruenella

      And then they yell at you for waking them up at 2am for clarification…when THEY are the one who didn’t write legibly to begin with. But if we messed up the order because of their crappy writing, they’d throw us under the bus at warp 10!

    • kez

      i had a dr do this to me once at 2 am with Insulin orders that i couldn’t read so i rang him up and asked that he explain to me exactly what he want he yelled at me said it was 2am in the morning and couldn’t i ask someone else. I promptly turn around and said yes it is 2am in the morning and i am trying to make your patient safe over night while you sleep, do you really think that I want to be here at 2am in the morning trying to decipher someones bad handwriting no I don’t and I also don’t appreciate being yelled at at 2 am in the morning now what are those orders thank-you. He gave me the orders hangup about 5 minutes later he rang back and apologized Stand up for yourselves because if you stuff up their orders your the one that goes down not the Drs

  7. IAAMN23

    Man I really despise these petty articles written by whiny nurses. Get over it. It’s the profession you picked. Do it well and quit complaining. You ever worked as a waiter/waitress? It sucks. You work your tail off almost every day for next to nothing. Nurses are required to work 3 days and have the other 4 available for family/friends/fun. Do your job with pride and quit playing the victim.

    • Ohpruenella

      How about you work 1 shift as an RN and then you can tell us how we should feel. There’s a reason why there this country is perpetually short of nurses. I could fill this blog with all of the things that are wrong with the nursing field. And if you don’t like busting tables for lousy money, get off your butt and get an education and qualify yourself to make more, instead of being so ‘whiny’ yourself.

      • IAAMN23

        I have tried 1 shift. Actually, I’ve been a nurse now for about 4 years… Let’s see…. We average 3-4 shifts a week X 52 weeks X 4 years… That equals roughly 725 shifts I’ve tried. How interesting of you to assume that simply because I defend the food service industry that I have no education and am lazy. Nursing is a wonderful profession that allows us access into the beauty and wonder of other people’s lives that no other profession offers. I choose not to complain about it. These types of articles are just silly and paint the picture that an RN deserves better than the rest of the world just because of the work they do. Gratitude. It’s a big word but one you might want to look up and read. But for now let’s continue to do our job as RNs and do it well.

        • CNRN

          Yes IAAMN23, we get it. You are grateful. Everyone else is whiney.

          I love my job and have been doing it for a long time. I enjoy these funny articles. A little humor helps with all of the stresses we deal with.

          If you don’t appreciate it. DON’T READ IT. You should be smart enough to figure that out!

      • IAAMN23

        I have tried 1. Actually around 725 to be exact. I’m a RN BSN CCRN. Been a nurse for around 4 years. How ignorant of you to assume that because I am defending the food service industry that I have no education and am lazy. The reason there is a nurse shortage is mainly because there are not enough educators to train them as the baby boomers age and need more care. I know many who would give their right arm to have what we have. They just can’t make it through the highly competitive and selective training process. So again I might suggest… Stop your whining and do your job with gratitude. We are nurses and we are stronger for it.

        • clemrn

          I’ve been a nurse for 4 1/2 years and worked on a postpartum and med surg floor. I love being a nurse and love my job. But yes it is a very stressful job and there is no comparison to a waitress who deals with food and nurses who deal with life and death, could have a more stressful job. I’ve had patients who laid and cried in pain, have they. I’ve given blood cause they have as much coming out as was going in, have they. If you can tell me that dealing with food is more stressful than that, then there’s something wrong with your way of thinking. If you haven’t had that kind of stress, then I’m happy for you. Either you’ve had the greatest patients or you’ve got the hardest heart.

        • MrsShippy

          I don’t think of it as whining. I think of it as venting. Almost everyone does it; commiserates with co-workers about the crappy boss, whining client, etc. It kets off steam. And it is nice to know others may feel like we do. That’s all.

    • doxhund

      Someone thinks they are SUPER nurse. I am grateful for my job. I love my job and I do it well. It is because I do it well that sometimes I need to vent. I appreciate nurse humor as it helps relieve some work stress. If you don’t appreciate nurse humor don’t read it. I’m not whiny, I’m human.

    • Sandra Davis

      Are you serious? In a profession such as nursing, you have to be able to laugh to survive. A lot of nurses will read this stuff and get a chuckle out of it. As for being a server in a reaaturant…..how many customers a day do they have to disimpact? How many customers a day do they have to give enemas to? How many customers a day do they physically assaulted by, and can’t do anything to fight back? How many families do they have to call to tell them their loved one has just passed away? Yes I do agree that servers have hard jobs, but when they go home, they’re done. They’re not going home crying over the lonely people who have just been dropped off because their family doesn’t care anymore, they don’t go home grieving the loss of a patient that they spent countless hours caring for. Oh yeah, and servers are expeceted to be tipped for their services whereas it is illegal for a healthcare worker to accept a tip. Anyone who thinks being a server is harder than being a nurae can go straight to hell.

    • Josh Zandi

      Seriously, get off if you hate it so much. I despise people who whine about other people and seek attention by trolling.

  8. trishybobishy

    “Sorry you had a bad day but at least you’re just a nurse and the responsibility all falls on the doctor. You only have to do what you are told.” Coming from an ER tech who decided that my education is third to his and the doctor’s.

    • Ohpruenella

      How ridiculous when we all know nurses are blamed for EVERYTHING, and they are always saddling us with more and more responsibility.

      • IAAMN23

        Maybe you should try waiting tables if you hate it so much.

        • Faeyth

          This article is meant to be funny. And encourage people to share. I love being a nurse and I wouldn’t trade what I do for any other job in the world. That doesn’t mean I don’t come home some days about to pull my hair out, venting and/or crying. It happens to most of us and if you are lucky enough to not have it happen to you then that is wonderful. That doesn’t give you the right to judge those of us who find humor in articles like this or are encouraged to share some of their stress from the job. I don’t normally comment on this stuff I prefer to just read and enjoy but your comments on this are so off putting and defensive. Having said all of this I hope you have a wonderful day!

    • ticewok

      Wow. I’m and ED tech and I wouldn’t dare say something like that. Being an ERROR tech has made me realize I never want to be a nurse changing my career choice to psych related choices. I want nurses every day rush in and out of rooms. Got to the hall beds cause our rooms are pack. Even rush to triage to tend to the less serious cases. And the doctors whine because we ask them to check them out so we can send them on their way. My job as an ER tech is extremely stressful, at our ER we have a lot of freedoms and a lot of extra training for special tasks. But it’s nothing like a nurse. I don’t have to remember so many meds. Wait on another nurse to waste with me while I’m in a rush to get an MI to cath lab. I don’t have the unfortunate task of calling it after that patient coded two or more times. Nurses, you job is hard. I’m there to make it easier, but to any one who says it’s not, especially to ER and ICU nurses, they can shove it.

  9. redlinegold94

    I’m sorry, is someone holding you at gunpoint and forcing you to continue your career as a nurse?

    • icunurse42066

      No, nobody is holding a gun to our heads!!!! We do not because we love it or else we would do something else!!!! We do it because we love our patients and we want to make a difference!!!!! My only hope is when you need a nurse, you get one that really cares about his/her patients!!!!!!!

  10. IAAMN23

    Intended this as a reply to Ohpruenella. Had to type twice, thought I lost this post. Well, in short, nursing is the greatest profession in the known universe and I’m so lucky to be one of the many of them!

  11. kmarshall

    I hate when someone tells me “I understand” and they have no idea what your job is like!!! My husband is the worst one of all who says this to me when I have a bad day

    • MrsShippy

      And that, KMarshall, is why I am so happy my husband is also a nurse. When he says, ” I understand”, he really does!

  12. jcp420@yahoo.com

    A bad day: As a Supervisor of a 162 Rehab/Skilled building I work with many people, of all ages and educations. When anyone of them come to me or converse in passing, and say they are having a bad day, or dont “feel good” I remind them about the people they care for. Did you get out of a dry bed? Did you bathe, toilet and feed yourself? Were you able to get to work under your own power? Now look around. Your day ain’t so bad….is it?

  13. gardeningrn

    Yep……..my fave of an (ex) husband: Well, teacher NEED several months off each year because it is soooooo hard teaching kids. And cafeteria duty is so loud, you have no idea. Ummm, try critical ill pts, vent, moniter, IV alarms,family members that need you as much as the patient, to say nothing of going to CT twice, MRI once, and going on a transport. All in half a shift.

  14. exnurseinwaiting

    The one that really bothers me is “you picked the profession”. If only I knew then what I know now. It was the worst decision of my life. 20 years later I am now back in college working on my next career, I am one of the older nurses who is leaving the profession. I only see it getting worse. Unfortunately I still have 3 yrs to go until graduation.

    • katb217

      To all my fellow nurses reading this have you ever heard the phrase that nurses eat their young?? Are you listening to yourselves??? I have been an ICU nurse for the last 32 years and still counting, can I say that I have loved every minute of it… No. Is it challenging, exhausting, rewarding, mentally tiring, absolutely on all accounts and more. But what I have been most frustrated about in all my years is the lack of encouragement. You are right nursing is not like waiting tables, you are talking about someone’s life here but that doesn’t mean waiting tables is a piece of cake. If you have never walked in someone else’s moccasins ( as the saying goes) that you can’t tell that person how easy they have it. It’s all hard work people, just living is not for the weak!! So how about we all try to encourage each other, build each other up, help each other out. It’s hard enough to live don’t make it harder for each other. If you have ever been a patient you know how it feels to have a great nurse, if you have ever been to a busy Resturant you know how it feels to have a great server or not so great one. If you are an RN I applaud you and encourage you to be the best damn nurse( I spite of the poop, blood, short staffing and terrible doc’s and admin) you can be, if you clean floors, pump gas, or a CEO of a big company I challenge you to be the best damn ___you can be. Appreciate those who do different jobs one never knows when one will find themselves is someone else’s moccasins!! Just saying!!

    • Rosie

      I know what you mean. I am still in my profession and have thought about just living on welfare like I see my patients live. Why not??? Good luck with you’re change I do believe that once we get tired we should change. It’s the best thing to save our sanity. The new nurses coming in are not “strong” enough to handle the situations we have.

  15. divinecookie1

    11. Its so awesome that you get to deliver and feed babies all day!….

  16. kit Kat

    The one comment that will make ANY ERR nurse cringe:
    “HAVE A QUIET NIGHT!”
    LMBO!

  17. lainiern

    Having been a n ICU nurse for many years…..and an RN for over 20….it is always amusing when I see people who have been nurses for a few years with no sense of humor. I think……that’s cute. Lighten up children….

  18. Jenny-Shel

    ‘Nursing is a 365days a year job’ Yeah it is and I love my job (God knows I’ve had some awful ones before I went through my training!) but I’m still going to b*tch and moan about having to work Christmas day!

  19. MrsShippy

    Just let it go. Why, yes, it’s so easy. Just let it go that you have to explain to a stunned 21 y.o. that, yes, when the doctor saud terminal that means you’re going to die. I’ll just let it go that the 35 y.o. hit by a drunk driver just woke up with an aka and, even though he knew it was goibg to happen, he is now screaming in pain and mental agony. See, when you let it go, its a late report sent in or a crabby boss yelling at you. I am trying to let go of human suffering.

  20. kay2n

    Patient in window bed states ” when you are done with her (referring to patient in bed by the door )……can you wait on me ?” Gotta love ’em.

  21. bjellis

    “I bet you have good insurance benefits!”

    • stevenm73

      having been both a waiter and a CNA in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, i know they can be frustrating and thankless jobs. the healthcare field isn’t a job for everyone. either you love it or hate it; there is no in between. i LOVED it. all jobs have their challenges for sure. what i loved about being a CNA was the people i took care of. too many times the nursing staff (CNAs, YOU and dietary included) are the ONLY “family” your patients have. you cannot help getting close to them and when someone dies, it’s hard and heartbreaking but you keep going because you have to, for them and yourself. no matter what kind of day i was having, i tried my best to make my people feel special and loved like they were the only ones i had to care for. forget about the office politics and crabby demanding doctors. you brought your patients a lttle bit of sunshine and a measure of comfort that day. for me, that makes all the rest of the BS worth it

  22. mamasonRN

    Wow! Why can’t we just support each other? I agree that being a nurse is the best job ever. I also understand that to survive in our profession, a sense of humor is a must. If you don’t start out with one, you will develop one. I think it’s a special sense of humor only health care workers have. The most aggravating statement lately came from my husband (who happens to be a waiter). I was getting ready to go in for a half shift and he told our friends, “Oh, six hours will be a piece of cake, no trouble at all”. I had to inform after I got home that I worked the entire six hours without a bathroom break or having any time to eat. His reply was, it could have been a twelve. I just had to smile and agree and growl just a little. …

  23. Scrubsbear

    When you meet someone at a bar.
    And through conversation, you learn they are a Certified Nurse Aide, IN SCHOOL TO BE A NURSE…..and they learn you are an L.P.N., and say: “Oh, so you’re not a real nurse.”
    The future, ladies and gentlemen. :)

  24. charity13

    My set off is, oh you work night shift, that’s the easy shift! Let me express myself, “..B..” Shit, come spend a night at my job, with my aides, and you will leave with a whole new respect….

  25. Nanz

    Of course we need to vent, but not on each other! I love my job, but every one has their own problems. You all know that as nurses who have heard so many.

  26. lyoungstein

    This is so pretentious. I mean yes, I understand it’s hard work but YOU chose to go into that field. No one forced you to. And honestly no one is forcing you to continue either.

    • Susan Duvall Ghostreich

      Just like no one forced you to read the article or the comments. It’s nurses who are identifying with one another and showing support. Except for the rare few, ahem, who come along and berate them for sharing and showing camaraderie.

  27. raelyns123

    I am a lpn and I work the noc shift and each shift has its quirks. Some people think that our residents sleep at night. Lmao is all I can say. We work side by side with the cna’s and sometimes I get pulled off my cart to work as a cna so they don’t mandate cna’s . I do love my job and I do vent and by the end of shift I look like I could pull my hair out at times. The worse part if my job is when my veterans passes I get attached to them. I like reading the posts and get a little chuckle out of some of them. Some I just shake my head. I have worked all shifts and I do work 4 nights a week with only 2 nights in between.and some with one night off and them they call you in and you work 5 nights a week. This is where I am coming from. We all need to vent and relief of stress. I am very great full of our cna’s / hsw’s that I work (ed) with.

  28. Rosie

    Well said Cardio12 and IAAMN23 is really on a very high horse. I have worked ICU and I would probably be right there with him since he only takes care of maybe 2 patient or on a bad day 3? Being a nurse is stressful but if you’re sitting back and judging everyone on here who signed up to “vent” then you must have it extremely “easy”. I don’t know where you work but is it a 500+ bed hospital or a smaller facility? You are playing off nursing as “not that bad” so obviously you are lying to yourself, to us or do a half-a/! Job and leave work for the next shift. I am grateful I have a job and I have had it for quite a while from being in the O.R to med/surg floor. Some days are a breeze but others make you wanna run out like a bat out of hell. I have read a lot of the stories and I thought you IAAMN23 is the most arrogant/ pompous so far. I hope you do continue to have good days and do not ever have to deal with any situations like these other nurses are venting about. I have a feeling that you’re pride would be knocked down real quick and you wouldn’t be so quick to judge and possibly quit the ICU quickly! Plus if u work the unit you should make enough money for your poor wife to quit.

  29. Melody Beth Bell-Posey

    I have been a nurse for 38 years and have watched a well loved profession got to hell in a hand basket. Every year things just get worse and worse. The patient load is ridiculous, the meds and charting even worse. I project a severe nursing shortage soon, not because people dont have it in their hearts to help but just because its just too hard anymore. Patients have absolutely no respect for nurses anymore, they are viewed more as maids than health care professionals. Ihave seen things change so much that it makes me sad…Whats the solution??? I havent a clue but I do know changes need to be made. To my fellow nurses…I appreciate you as my co-workers and my allies.

  30. Ahimsa

    Wow I have to say I am very surprised by the nurse who apparently has the perfect job, with no stress. How wonderful would that be…to do our job and every patient be perfect. As for the rest of us yes nursing can be very stressful. There are plenty of days when you don’t even have time to pee…food yeah not happening. Those days when you have one patient who’s oxygen saturation will not come up. You keep calling the doctor saying lasix please and come see the patient….not happening. Next door you have the patient that just found out he has brain cancer (very advanced) and is dying and the family all treat you like its your fault, why can’t you make them better. Next door to that patient is the one that doesn’t like to be alone, you have spent as much time as you can with them but they continue to call asking for a cup of ice when you just brought them one (or two or three). They have called 911 and their family and said they fell and no one is helping them (you just left the room they never got out of the bed). Then your patient codes (you tried telling the doctor he wouldn’t come) and you have to start CPR…send them to ccu (if the resuscitation efforts were successful). Thats not all you have an admission coming….oh meds have I passed any meds hmmm.

  31. skyedancer

    I’m not in the field at all but I know a few nurses. I have a great respect for nurses my fiance is a certified Medical Assistant and a close friend of ours is an ER nurse. we don’t get to see him very often but when we do he often jokes about some of the things that happen in the ER but there are times he vents about some of the doctors.

    he did say that one of the patients told him that it should get Q***t soon and after they left all hell broke loose

  32. rebzim51

    My favorite is when a school teacher says to me: you don’t know what a hard job is. I have to teach 30 kids”. I have 2 patients circulating the toilet and I spent my entire12 hour shift on my feet working to keep these patients alive. Unfortunately I sent one to the morgue near the end of my shift. How many kids do you lose a day?

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