Can nurses have fun without risking it all?


I’ve previously mentioned that, as health care professionals, we are never really “off the clock.” Some health care professionals have discovered the hard way that being “unprofessional” can have dire consequences.

As a nurse, I’ve become socially gun-shy. Many of my coworkers have asked me on numerous occasions to join them in an array of social activities ranging from drinks at the local “watering hole” to attending parties or important events. I’ve continually declined their kind offers simply out of a fear of having too much fun.

Does that make any sense at all?!

The public has not been kind to many professionals who “let their hair down” and had a good time. Somehow the public equates our clinical skills and decision-making abilities with whether or not we act accordingly. A professional would never partake in loud or obnoxious behavior, nor would they consume alcohol of any kind. To do so would tarnish their reputation as a professional, right?

No one ever mentions that they are grown adults celebrating and enjoying the company of their family, friends and/or coworkers in a safe, non-threatening, non-violent and non-disruptive manner.

I’m willing to bet a few rotten apples have spoiled the bushel. Some extreme cases of carelessness, recklessness and juvenile behavior have raised the public’s concern.

In the end, I have spent a lot of time, effort and money to attain my professional position and degree. Am I wanting to go out and act like a fool? Or break the law? No.

Unfortunately, I’m still a tad bit defensive about interpretation. An innocent misinterpretation can be a very sharp sword. The mere presence of questioning one’s professional abilities simply because of what someone “thought” they saw is enough to damage a career.

Whether accurate or not, perception is reality. And with enough influence it can change other people’s perceptions.

I guess I’m not willing to risk all my hard work over a misinterpretation.

Am I being extreme? Or am I being conscientious? Anyone else brave enough to admit to sharing my fears?

Maybe I’m just getting old? (Insert sarcastic grin.)

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4 Responses to Can nurses have fun without risking it all?

  1. essarge RN

    I gotta say…I’m with you on that one!! If I want a beer, I drink it at home. Don’t even have one when hubby and I go out to dinner because (murphy’s law) I will always run into one of my pt’s and am worried about what their perception will be. I even work almost 50 miles from my home and still hate to go anywhere to “have fun”! Sad but true about nurses and fun times!

  2. Katnip

    I agree with everything, and every bit of critical thinking, you expressed. It is the very reason I don’t go anywhere. I am a nurse in a small town – it isn’t worth the risk.

  3. Rudy311

    I guess times have changed. 25 years ago we 20-30 somethings from ICU and ER would go out and party after work. Glad there wasn’t any Facebook then, only the work.

  4. SteveK3636 RN

    Probably I am a different generation to you. I trained in the UK and have been in nursing since 1970. During that time my social activities have revolved around people, motorcycling, family and friends. My current position involves global travel and working in a nursing role. I am a known socialite on both sides of the Atlantic. Sometimes an employer has taken a dim view of some of my more boisterous activities, BUT, and it is a big ‘BUT’, I have never received a complaint, formal or otherwise, about my practice, either from a patient, relative, or relevant governing body. Most people recognize when you are ‘off duty’. If I feel I might be impaired when approached for assistance I inform the person of this, but if no-one else can help I will still do my best. My best asset is over forty years of unblemished practice combined with a fair disposition. Maybe my gender helps – it doesn’t hinder me anyway!