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What’s your nurse curse?

nurse-taking-child-temperatMedical knowledge can give you the edge when it comes to your family’s health. It can also be a curse—in more ways than one. Relatives call for a second opinion after seeing their doctors. Friends want free medical advice. Strangers, upon learning your profession, give TMI.


Sometimes the curse is your own knowledge. Of course, having too little knowledge is dangerous…consider the patients who Google their disease and come up with crazy diagnoses. But having too much knowledge can be just as scary.

Seasoned Nurse Rebekah Child blogs:

“I remember one of our truly seasoned nurses (20 plus years!) was taking care of a child who had fallen off the swing set. Mom brought the child in and they CT’d the kid and it turned out he had a head bleed.

“This RN was standing at the nurse’s station with a look of horror. I asked her what was wrong, surely, surely, this wasn’t her first child with a head bleed?

‘No’ she said ‘The same exact thing happened to my daughter two days ago and I didn’t bring her to the hospital.'”

Student Nurse Megan Gilbert sometimes wishes that she didn’t know all that can go wrong in the hospital, anesthesia, and surgery, especially when it’s her own special needs son who is undergoing treatment:

“I constantly am watching our doctors and nurses like a hawk…..are they washing their hands? I can’t help but putting everyone under a microscope.  I have to say, I keep quiet about it…I am not rude and always let the staff do their jobs and constantly thank them for their care.  I just am fearful of someone neglecting or cutting corners…after all, we all know hospitals are the best places to acquire infections!!”

Registered Nurse Sean Dent, on the other hand, gets frustrated by the medical queries from his ‘non-medical’ friends and family:

“Fraught with good intentions and a need-to-know mentality, I somehow get ‘consulted’ to answer the ‘why’ questions for the medically and physically unexplainable signs and symptoms that family or friends experience. I don’t know if I should feel blessed or cursed sometimes. I am of course not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. I cannot offer medical advice. It’s not only dangerous but extremely illegal.”

So, what’s your nurse curse story?

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12 Responses to What’s your nurse curse?

  1. April Essary

    My mom is a diabetic and the hardest part for me as a nurse is the fact that she doesn’t take care of herself. I sometimes feel I am failing as a nurse because I can’t even get my own mother to see this is a serious disease.

  2. Marcy

    I don’t know if this is exactly what you mean, but everytime I work triage in the ED we are going to have a terrible shift. I am considered a triage magnet. It will be good for several shifts but let me in triage and there will be ‘no room at the inn’

  3. Anthony

    My daughter had surgery this past summer for an abscess from pneumonia. My head was swimming with issues that I had no control over. It was difficult to sit there and let someone else take care of my baby and on the other hand, filter information to my wife while not overwhelming her with everything

  4. Sandi

    I think one of the worse things about having the knowledge is that at times other medical professionals “assume” you know something when you are on the other side or when they beocme defensive when they know a family member is a nurse. I have gone as far as telling my children not to say my mom’s a nurse when we they had to go to an ER or somewhere. Sometimes too much knowledge is a dangerous and uncomfortable thing!

  5. Kelli Burnett

    One neighborhood i lived in, the neighbors would come to me for my “diagnosis”.. when i could actually offer advice, i did (which was inevitably ignored) or let them know they needed to contact their physician, which would anger them. I finally refused to give any opinion asking them why they ask when they wouldn’t do what i said. I then told them i would start charging a fee like an attorney would when asked for advice. Ironically enough, i was soon left alone.

  6. Your name

    I let my daughter go 4 days with a fever before getting into the clinic the next day:( It’s always, always, always viral whenever we go in, this time it was left lower lobe pneumonia. I felt terrible!!

  7. Jas

    I hate it when a family member is in the hospital and I know it’s serious. I always try to sugarcoat it for the rest of the family so no one will get alarmed.

  8. Lee Ann

    I think the opposite is worse. My daughter is an anxious new Mother, my Father was an OCD old man before he passed away. Neither one would listen to me. My daughter would call me for advice, then she’d listen and say, “I’m calling the doctor’s office to find out what I should do.” so she called the LPN nurse at the doctor’s office (where I work) to get her imput. My Dad got a skin tear on his arm. So I told him, clean it really well, push the skin back together and put a big band aid on it and don’t mess with it for a couple of days (he didn’t have steri strips or anything). so the next day I asked him how his sore was. HE said, “I didn’t like all that loose skin so I cut it off with the fingernail clippers next to my chair.” well, it got infected and he had a big scar. Nobody listens to me. lol

  9. PatriceMarie

    When my Mom started showing her decline in health, I backed off as daughter. I couldn’t handle that Mom was dying and we wouldn’t have a great mother-daughter relationship. When she died just 8 weeks ago, I treated it more like a nurse than a daughter–clinical. Oh, I loved her and miss her TERRIBLY.

  10. Jennifer W

    My curse is when family gets sick and I get frustrated with the nursing staff when their nursing standard is less than mine. It’s hard to sit back and watch while they provide my loved ones with sub par care. I wouldn’t do that to any of my patients.

  11. nurse nikki

    my SIL seems to be the worst one for this I get all sorts of messages asking about all sorts of things… one day I had to pick some stuff up from her house before going to work… she had been up all night vomiting and asked me what was wrong with her.. my response was: wash your hands, drink plenty of fluids, see a doctor and dont touch me…
    after repeating it a few times it sank in 😛

    and when my mum was in hospital I was the one “meddling” to make sure she got the pain relief she needed… she wouldnt ask so I just went and spoke to the nurse looking after her and they went and saw her (when they asked she said she needed pain relief… what did I no 😛 hehe)

  12. sarahMckinsey

    My Mom was dying. She was talking to my dead father. My sisters insisted that she have a surgery my mother didn’t want. She didn’t come out of the anesthesia. I tried to let them know early on that if they had anything they needed to say to her, say it now. My sisters were furious with me for saying that. I don’t think they will ever forgive me. I saw it coming. Twenty five years in the ICU, you see the signs. My advice is never tell your family what you know. They kill the messenger