Overheard from the nurse’s station

OverheardA group of us + a few two many cups of coffee = this article idea: Some of the stuff we encounter at work is just too good to forget after one retelling. We asked around, posted the idea on Facebook, and got inundated with random anecdotes. Herewith: Some of the funnier snippets of conversations we’ve overheard from the nurse’s station! – The Scrubs Team

P.A.: Do you have any questions?

Teenager: Yeah, will cigarette smoke show up in my urine sample?

Overheard by M. Patterson


Nurse 1: What do you do for stress?

Nurse 2: Yoga and shooting shotguns, mostly.


Female: The medicine made my teeth feel like they were floating in my head.

Male: All of ’em?

Overheard by G. Nunez


Person: I was finally able to repair the coffee table while I was waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

Overheard by K. Chang


Oveheard in a Waiting Room

Mother (to child): Sit down and start acting like you’re sick.

Overheard by D. Ludlow


Guy One: Did you see that nurse?

Guy Two: Which one?

Guy One: The one with the shoes.

Overheard by R. Armstrong


Admitting Clerk: How old is your son?

Man: 27

Admitting Clerk: Then whose child is that?

Man: I don’t know.

Overheard by L. Winslow


Nurse 1: You know what’s longer than a 12-hour shift?

Nurse 2: What?

Nurse 1: A 12-hour shift with no chairs.


Nurse: I’ve been wearing a Batman t-shirt under my scrubs ever since I started working evening shift.


Nurse: The patient’s fine. It’s his mother-in-law I can’t stand.

Got any of your own “overheard” stories? Share them below!

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40 Responses to Overheard from the nurse’s station

  1. JW

    Student nurse reviewing patient’s chart which indicated – Allergies: NKDA

    Student nurse 1 to Student Nurse 2: What type of drug is NKDA?

    • Diane Clapp RN

      too cute! we all were green, I remember having a male patient one day in my clinical rotation. The next day he was gone, asked where he had gone and was told “to the unit”. I truly had no idea what “the unit” meant.

      Also, as a nurse of 6 months many years ago, I went in to see my patient assignment for the day, didn’t see it so I asked the charge about it. I was told “You’re Floating”. Had no idea what that was and asked. She kindly explained but here’s the clincher, I was floating to NICU!!! That was a new nurses nightmare and I’ll never forget it… cirumcisions, procedures etc…. I was not prepared to assist the MDs in these types of patients.

      We need to advocate both for the patient and the nurse. As a nurse and we don’t feel safe caring for a certain patient or patient load, we must voice our concern and not let it be blown off. This is a patient’s life plain and simple. Safety is number one.

  2. Alexia Purdy

    Parent: who is your boss? I need to speak to a supervisor NOW!
    Nurse: It’s um, like, Sunday.

  3. Gina

    Overhead while a son was helping his father complete a health history:
    Son to elderly father: Dad, have you had your ovaries removed?
    Father: (thinking)…..I don’t think so.

  4. Carney

    Patients family who pretended to be a nurse and whose mother in law was having hematuria “Shouldnt you prepare her for a colonoscopy?!”

  5. mike

    Family member: And how do you guys check for urine infxs?
    Me: (pause, stare)
    Family member: I guess by checking the urine.

  6. lolamills

    Patient who had just had his catheter removed, standing @ the bedside in a pair of blue and yellow ducky boxer shorts trying to void: “Poor little guy, what did they want to go and do that to him for?, poor little guy!!!, he’s my best friend”.

  7. Joanne

    Nurse supervisor (an LPN) speaking with a Med Tech about a phone order taken by another LPN…

    Med Tech: “What does T.O.R.B. mean?”
    Supervisor: “I have no idea?”


    • blythekd32 LPN

      yea why be condicending and help the lpn who doesnt know it could one day save both your jobs since you are in a supervisory position so that makes you accountable as well,plus we are all in the business for the same thing,our patients and if this lpn doesnt know what that means then again you should help them as it could effect patient care.

      • kjohn

        ….effect patient care….. really?

      • noelle77

        Did you even read what you were replying to? Was a conversation between 1. Lpn/supervisor. 2. Med tech. just because it makes you laugh doesn’t mean you don’t then go and correct the situation.

        Don’t take life so seriously. No one makes it out alive.

    • raerae LPN

      It means Telephone Order Read Back. Why make fun of someone who doesn’t know something? How about just letting them know what it means, there is probably a thing or two you don’t know/understand and hopefully a kind co-worker will help you out and explain it to you. Or were you born knowing it all?

    • nursekim1462

      Your comment reminds me of a nurse who I had as a preceptor a few weeks ago. She wasn’t all bad though; she showed me the kind of RN that I am determined not to become.

    • mebtylcs@yahoo.com RN

      you are the nurse who eats her young!! shame on you!! btw that is no longer an accepted abbreviation.

    • Diane Clapp RN

      IS T.O.R.B. an acceptable JCAHO abbreviation???? I highly doubt it. Don’t feel uneducated etc…. you’re not the only ones who have no idea what TORB means TO THEM.

  8. Sara

    @Joanne… I’m an LVN and I still know what T.O.R.B. means. I also knew what that meant as a Med Tech lol! Makes me wonder how some people passed the test to get their license.

    • Diane Clapp RN

      Differen hospitals, different states…. you need to climb out of your secluded hole in nursing and get with “Nursing in the 2000’s or 2012”. Nursing Interns/Candidates all get their licenses the same way you did – they passed the NCLEX!

      I’ve been a RN for 18 yrs, never heard “T.O.R.B.”…. not in my area of California.

  9. Dottie Hospice Nurse

    @Sara…..I have been an LPN for over 36 Years. I NEVER heard that abbrev. in Nursing. I found it myself. That’s really an unkind comment you said. You know, the New nurses will need compassion, how about it??

    • Diane Clapp RN

      Ditto, I agree with you. What happened to Nursing Compassion? As a peds onc RN I see it as a calling…. one that must have compassion.

      • Ruth RN

        There have been times at the end of a shift that has been hectic that I can’t even remember my name much less the T.O.R.B means Telephone Order Read Back. She may have just been extremely tired. I work night shift and day shift and sometimes I don’t know if I am coming or going.

  10. Rita

    I have been nursing since the 70’s. I don’t know what T.O.R.B. means. Explain it to me…I want to know!!!

  11. Rita

    One day, I found myself caring for a gentleman with very poor hearing. He was a bit shy of the care that I needed to provide and since he was incontinent of urine, it was decided that a condom cath would be applied to help keep his skin dry.

    As I proceeded to apply it to his private member, he was kind of shocked that I was touching him in such a personal place. I explained (in a loud voice) that we were going to apply the condom cath and why.

    In an equally loud voice he said, “Well what for, we aren’t going to be having sexual intercourse.”

    Of course everyone near his room overheard every word of our exchange!

  12. mclovin

    Doc: mam congratulations, your the proud owner of a UTI.
    Pt: My sister has a history of UTI’s, is it contagious?

  13. I love how it’s specified that the nurse supervisor was an LPN. As an LPN who regularly runs circles around RN’s who refuse to get their hands dirty, I resent the implications that statements like them seem to perpetuate. Having those three letters behind my name do not make me any more or less of a nurse, thank you. It’s not the letters behind your name but the heart and soul you put into your work. I have regularly seen many with RN, BSN, and higher who could use a little bit more of that (and who regularly have to ask what some seemingly simple terms mean). But hey, since I’m an LPN, what do I know, right? Oh, and thanks for perpetuating the stigma of the LPN/RN divide just a little bit more there, although I’m sure now you will say that’s not what you were doing. But if not, what was the point of saying they were an LPN?

    • jagrnc RN

      i also resent, as an RN, that i don’t get my hands dirty. you have no idea what i do. i have best friends that are LPN’s and fabulous at their jobs. i do not pool people in different work environments as a whole that don’t do their jobs. that is plain ridiculous and condenscending. it is the person who does not do their job, not the title. as for T.O.R.B. i didn’t know what it was either. it is changed so much, who can keep up? we now use TVO/RAV (telephone order read and verified). i work hard on my 12 hr shift as much as you, do don’t judge me and other RN’s.

    • lowestPaidNurse

      Hey jagrnc,

      LPN stands for Lowest Paid Nurse and I’ve been one for 20 years. What I’ve learned is that you can’t fix stupid or ignorant behavior. And I have never seen the abbrev.. T.O.R.B.

      • inkangel69 RN

        In my hospital we would write T.O – then the order, then RBV and sign. I didn’t know TORB. LPNs are freaking awesome and we’d be lost without them.

        • Diane Clapp RN

          I’ve always written “read back order”and signed or initialled on bottom left of order: “read back order, JSD,RN or Jand S. Doe, RN” then again signed at the end of the order:
          Telephone Order: Dr. John Doe/taken by Jane Sue Doe, RN/JSD – so as to confirm this in writing, no room for confusion here – not in these days!!!

    • Diane Clapp RN

      I’ve worked with some excellent LVNs (in California LVN=s LPN). They were awesome and I would never complain about any of them, however it’s the hospitals/organizations that have placed restraints on LVN and made the RN “cover” almost everything they did.

      LVNs couldn’t assess so the RN had to do that in addition to her own patients, LVNs couldn’t give IV Meds, start IVs, insert a FC or remove, remove a Heparin Lock etc on their patients. This became very burdensome to RNs who were/are trying to care for their own assigned team appropriately in addition the the LVN they were “covering”.

      A friend of mine who was a LVN for 15 yrs at same hosp went back to school while working and obtained her RN. What did it do for her financially? $1.10/hr because they placed her at the lowest paying RN scale. Now that stinks!!!

      Not putting down the LVN, it’s the system not the LVN!!!

    • kkimbelina

      It seems you are doing some similar things. I also resent the statements that you are making that implicates that RN’s dont do anything and you run circles around them. Maybe we should try to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

  14. Joni

    laboring pt husband to nurse: I think she has dilated more.

    nurse: What makes you think that?

    pt husband: Well, I looked…down there (as he points to his crotch) and her vagina looks bigger…

    nurse: blank stare…trying desperately hard not to laugh out loud

  15. adksapphire

    On a slow night in the ER the physician and the techs had gotten bored and were playing baseball in the hallway with a wad of cellophane and a long clipboard. When a visitor came around the corner she stared aghast at the scene. She looked at me and said, “I have never seen such a lack of professionalism in my life! Where is the physician that is supposed to be in charge of this mess?” I calmly replied, “He’s the one at bat.”

  16. inkangel69 RN

    from a hospice nurse: a very somber moment – the family is holding hands around their loved one who has just passed. Sister says, “boy, I’m glad I wasn’t in the bathroom”

  17. cassie.bellemare

    Overheard at the nurses station… One nurse, while charting her admission assessment, remembers she had forgotten to ask her patient an important question. Nurse enters the patient’s room and asks in a loud voice:

    Nurse: “Have you been farting?!?”

    Obviously feeling accused of something stinky, patient state, “NO! NOT AT ALL!”

  18. Diane Clapp RN

    Overheard from the nurse’s station:

    Nurse 1: How’s that second meal break working for you?

    Nurse 2: You mean the one we’re supposed to take but never have the time to pee yet take a second break? Does that answer your question?

  19. schoolnursey39

    I have been an RN for 25 years and have never heard torb. Sounds like something kids would text message to each other. I have always said, RN’s will always introduce themselves as RN’s and not just a nurse cause you could be talking to the janitor.

  20. Camoflahj

    When tou only work in ine sectio of one state I think you don’t realuze there are different abbreviations (Non-JCAHO) and even different ways to pronounce some words (Guiac comes to mind). Had no idea what TORB meant either.

  21. Camoflahj

    Please, let’s be kind to one another.

  22. DanidelionRN RN

    At my hospital we use “WDRB” Written Down, Read back” not “TORB”… never heard that one. Try not to reveal your nastiness mocking people for lack of knowledge about things that have no bearing on practice and patient care.