10 humorous ways I knew I was a nurse

The day you start nursing school your life changed permanently.

There is the life “before nursing” and then life as a nurse. Two very different worlds.

Here are some of the ways I knew my life had changed when I became a nurse.

1. I started using a different language
“Rationale” and “as evidenced by” became common terminology. Really… (only nurses will understand this one) don’t ask. Heh heh

2. Acronyms became my best friend
Patient history of COPD, CAD, DM, BKA, CVA with some JVD and new onset CHF noted. What??? Can I get a vowel, Alex??

3. I somehow started caring about the type of pens I use
A “fat” pen with some cushion is like gold when you have to write narrative notes that are pages long for EACH patient you care for during a shift.

4. My bladder grew 3 sizes larger
For some strange reason I could go 12 + hours without having to use the bathroom? Is that normal?

5. Coffee was a mainstay in my diet – and still is.
Without it I don’t think I could blink properly some days.

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74 Responses to 10 humorous ways I knew I was a nurse

  1. On a excellence scale of 1 to 10, this gets a 9.5.

    • Sean Dent

      @William Thank you so much! I thought this list would get a good smile.

  2. Austin Goodwin

    Your immune system has been known to attack squirrels in the back yard!

    • 4bdnfruit

      I have to use retractable pens….to take the cap off takes time! LOL co wrokers laugh at me I am OCD with my pens!

      • mcoburn38

        You arent the only one!!! I am also OCD about writing down EVERYTHING on a sheet and keeping it for weeks. I mean what if someone questions my work? I’ll have the answer immediately!

        • Giggra

          @4bdnfruit I am so glad its not just me. LOL Caps actually make me cringe. Bestdes I hook my pen ony lanyard…can’t do that with a cap!

  3. Marcus V Roberts MD

    Laughter is good medicine. My prayers are with you. Miss seeing you. Come by to see us sometimes.

  4. Marcus C Roberts MD

    I do know who I am. I’m not Marcus V Roberts. Maybe I am and don’t know it. New public email = md_questions@yahoo.com

  5. Mary Lynne

    11. I started checking out random peoples veins while standing in checkout lines, etc.!

    • Maria Venus

      So true!

    • lq1124

      lol, or their ankles for peripheral edema!!

    • afnurse92

      I do it all the time! My family thinks I’m nuts!

    • mcoburn38

      LOL!!! Right!

    • raynydayz0116

      I’m always checking out people’s veins or feeling my family members’ veins. My husband has amazing veins and I love how bouncy they feel.

  6. Alice Sillis

    I love #6. My kids still marvel at my super power of smell… My addition would be: In the “Old Days” of the 70’s, most nurses smoked.There were cigarette machines next to the soda machines and they even sold cigarettes in the gift shops… Head Nurses had big ashtrays by their phones (then, they rarely left the desk area) and most were chain smokers….. Yep, I started smoking during nursing school, but luckily quit before age 22. During the first week of my first job as a nurse,my head nurse asked, “You went to college but where did you go to nursing school?” Only one Asst. Head Nurse had a college degree… I was only one of 5 nurses (including the DON) with a BSN at that hospital! These nurses told us newbies their stories of their rules: nurses giving doctors a seat and a pen when they came into the “Nurse’s Station” and getting the doctors their coffee. I felt like a trailblazer living in a 1950’s world (most nurses there went to 3 year hospital schools in the Post WWII era.) Even when I was a Clinical Specialist at a Rehab Hospital, I still got the nursing school vs. college question.

  7. Pingback: Why I knew I was a nurse « My Strong Medicine

  8. Urologynurse

    Lots of abbreviation in my world also here’s just a few: ESL, KUB, PVR, TURP, VAS, US/BIO, CIRC ok I’m bored!!!

  9. Nicolette

    Where do I begin..ahhh, PENS!! How you can identify a “lost” (read stolen) pen 25 feet away..in someone’s pocket! Holidays??? Oh, you mean “time and a half days.” OK. Calendar weeks vs. work weeks.. who cares? Just as long as I know when I have 2 days off together. Calling off..Yeah, I felt guilty about that too. But, yeah, loved being a Nurse too!! Great article.

    • RNHeather

      LOL..so true.. how many of your non-nurse friends get confused when you say, “This is my Friday!” when it’s only Tuesday! :))

  10. Nurses R Best, better ‘n Docs any day!!

  11. Patty

    I couldn’t pass a neuro physical if I had too. I know the date only, live on coffee, have the bladder of an elephant and would inflict severe pain on anyone grabbing my pen.

  12. Cristy

    Wow…I love how the Pt knows and asks for promethazine and 100 micrograms of fentanyl yet they haven’t even graduated highschool big words for such a looser!

  13. jojo

    Haha..so true.. Im night shift..exactly 1930 when I finish report..i must..must ha e coffee. I thought I wa going senile forgetting the date daily now. True abo,ut caller id

  14. penny wiltz

    Yes, I am particular about my pens. Yes, I really get PO’d when I have to buy ANOTHER stethoscope (generally one a year). On a good day I get to pee twice in 12 hours. Speaking of bladders, Had an A&P repair( put it all back where it belongs if you please). The road to recovery was a tad rocky. Couldn’t pee for love nor money for weeks. Asked the doc about said “recovery”. Reply was- you work here, you are a nurse and you all have flabby bladders because you never void! C’est la vie!

    • NurseWaldo

      Penny, are you having to buy a stethoscope because they break or because they walk off aka a doc says let me borrow your stethoscope and then walks off with it?

      If it’s the latter do what I do: ask them for car keys or cell phone. When they ask why, tell them: collateral. Never lost a stethoscope yet.

  15. Sean Dent

    @Penny I’m going to have to remember the ‘flabby bladder’. Thanks!

  16. JB

    Best way to keep track of your pen… label it. The only time I lost a pen is when a Dr. “borrowed it” and then left. She even called later to appologize. Still never got the pen back, though.

  17. Sean Dent

    @JB I never thought of that. Thanks!

  18. shannon

    All of the above comments are soooo true. I am glad that we nurses are all alike. I especially like the pen one, because I thought I was the only one who was thought that way. I mean I don’t even like my pts. to use my pen. I will go get them a pen from the nurses station,lol

  19. Sean Dent

    @ shannon I’ve also followed someone using my pen to make sure I get it back! LOL

  20. I have been retired for sometime, but I can still “smell” my first GI bleeder (1966). A nurse’s sense of smell, or memory, never goes away!

    • Sean Dent

      @Janet No. No it never does. LOL

    • mcoburn38

      C-Diff, ewwwwwwwwwww! Worked for a doctor that had a contest with the nurses, “sniff test!” is this or not c-diff!! I won everytime!!

  21. Amanda Coll

    I am obsessed with fine point pens because a lot of the time I have to write very small especially for discharge interagencies. I am very protective of my pens but carry at least 2 cheap ones with me ( like papermate 20 for 2 bucks type) to give to those who need one so i don’t have a fit if I don’t get it back. As for the bladder, it is true and probably not good for us. Funny post :)

  22. fddiver2

    I love the pen comments, its all true. However, I have learned that I loose pens constantly so I carry 4-5 pens with me and have several packs in my locker. I love and will only use click top pens and apparently mu co-workers love my pens. I just raid Staples when they have a sale on them and now have a couple drawers full of them at home.

  23. redrose11453

    It’s true! And I have to be careful when writing letters, that I don’t slip naturally into Nrsg shorthand…..LOL

    • nursectattoos

      Same here!! I actually had to make a list of my most common abbreviations for my family since they constantly get used in notes, memos and even recipes I write lol

  24. rp

    Aww, my favorite is that each time I sign my name outside of work,
    I have to stop and remind myself that I don’t need to “document” it with
    the initials “RN” at the end….

    • Wendy Grable

      I keep signing first initial, last name on checks and deposit slips. I think I should just change my checks and make life easier.

    • raynydayz0116

      At work is really the only time I have to sign my name so any other time I have to sign something I accidentally add the RN at the end.

  25. AaronLPN

    Eating your lunch while looking at very detailed, graphic pictures of wounds and then realizing the guy who brought the lunch was ready to throw up watching you!
    Cleaning up explosive BM and commenting to your co-worker that you’re really hungry and could you please cover for a few minutes while I eat?
    I guess in general, being hungry at times that would make most people want to get sick.

  26. deannaelv

    you know you are a nurse when your dinner conversation is all about your day, including foleys, enemas, etc. Nothing is sacred anymore.

  27. maryannq

    We have flower pots with cute colorful flower pens on our nurses station desk…they never get taken, the doctors won’t be caught dead carrying one around!

  28. beliefnhope

    OH SO TRUE!!!!! Don’t touch my pen, it’s a death sentance. My husband laughs because I forget to go to the bathroom…he doesn’t understand how I can forget to pee. I love sitting in restaurants or public places and diagnosing all the people around me. Definately never know what day it is…and if I go on vacation, forget it…I couldnt even tell you the date from not writing it a hundred times in a day. Constantly stopping myself from signing non-medical documents with RN. I am not just a nurse, its who I am! God Bless Nurses!!!

    • Smiley

      I loved this article, we all need the humor and ability to laugh at ourselves :). I’m anal about my pens and dry erase markers! Carry my own “pencil case” with my supplies. I have also discovered that my old HS days of running track have come in handy. I can run to a code and hurdle couches, nurses desk, small children in nothing flat…. they call me Nurse Flo Jo. LOL

  29. lwd338

    I knew I was a nurse when I was at the mall and could spot people with certain diagnosisis or symptoms like moon face or jaundice or the big ascitebelly, things most people would not notice.

    • mcoburn38

      Me passing a man on the sidewalk…..Wow he has a significant hernia! The man…fully clothed!! LOL!

  30. becknurse

    I grab free pens where ever I can and then save those to loan out to people so I don’t lose my good pens. I love acronyms and abbreviations, but it’s a pain when doctors or other nurses create there own.

  31. crissy1219

    I LOVE THIS! =)

  32. Lisa Herrera

    You absolutely are correct! I might add how when out to the store, you can spot certain ailments just by a glance! Also, you start to categorize people by their veins!

  33. luvprn

    Calling in is what I could identify with!! When I went to another job(after 12 yrs) they had three months of personal days, 6 weeks of sick leave and 24 holidays they had to pay me for plus a pay period that had 20 hrs of overtime. I worked in the OR and our shortened conservations were about the same- GI, GU, Stat, open, close, 4-0 or a 3-0 or cath, TUR, or the best one DR in PMS so don’t talk.

    • mcoburn38

      Oh how I agree! I remember the exact 36hr pay period I worked 127!!! When I changed jobs I was asked “who will we get to work the hrs of two nurses.” LOL!

  34. blossie

    As a nurse you can discuss any subject and not miss a meal.

  35. Pattijorn

    New “language”; acronyms (that no one other than medical folk understand); being VERY territorial about MY pens; COFFEE…..ahhhhhh, the life of a nurse ! Love it !

  36. Abby

    Whenever I say that something is NORMAL, I hear my clinical instructor say that nothing is normal. But if I use WNL when talking about prices of groceries, I get a look like where did you fall from?

  37. saturn567

    congrats on finishing your masters, any advice?

  38. savedRN

    Love this top 10! One of my favorite abbreviations: BRBPR. A nurse manager once said she would never order pens for the unit. If a nurse couldn’t cop a free pen somewhere you weren’t a very good nurse! In the 80’s they told us about designated smoking areas: in the locker room with all the coats of non-smokers hanging there! I had a choice: bathroom and coffee or food. Skipped the food and ran out for a cig with my coffee. I still don’t eat but quite smoking so I have more time for Echarting now! Thanks again,

  39. Njames

    We use e-charting now except for the MAR… I am so used of using my initials when signing off the MAR sheets that when I do have to sign documents outside of work I use my initials instead.
    Sometimes I used acronyms with text messages…

  40. funster42

    Nursing gave me OCD. I did not notice it until after I retired. Working in OR or Sterile Supply everything is arranged the same, packaged the same, in the same order and wrapped the same everytime. Supplies are always put in the same place, dates rotated. I even do this at home with groceries.
    Worked for temp agencies and learned to fill in every space on every form, even if it was just a slash through the box, so they at least know you saw it. Hated getting called back to initial or sign something by Med Recs. Still see there is something in every box when filling out forms.

  41. midnites4ever

    I have a draw full of every pen ever made lol. Finally found my perfect pen bought a boat load and hide them lol. Just kidding!! Has anyone else wrote their notes on the old white paper towels? The worst thing about a 12 hour bladder is a 24 hour urine test. I told Dr I have to train for a few weeks before I can perform that tesst on myself! Lol. What a great site. Thanks to my co worker Teddy

  42. jessi9380

    When your 10/10 pain patient starts out with “what’s that D medication? D-D-D” you can name off every D medication except for Dilaudid. 😉
    Hmm…we must not carry that medication.

  43. nursectattoos

    I love this!! #2 and #3 are dead on. I am obsessive with having a good pen and cringe when someone “borrows” it I have been known to hunt them down and I have had to write a list of abbreviations for home since I use them in all my notes and lists it drives my family nuts. I didn’t see anything about a cast iron immune system though I rarely get sick anymore probably once every few years I get something deadly, but it has taken a while for my boyfriend to adapt, I had to assure him that he would eventually not get every sniffle and bug that was going around the clinic. After three years he still makes me bag my uniform in the garage before coming in during flu season.

  44. Marciaf

    I retired from nursing a year ago, and this article mentioned so many things that I had forgotten about. I was neurotic about my pen. It had to be just right with a smooth ink flow and cushion for my finger. Great article!

  45. Victoria Harmsen-Van Dalsen

    Only a nurse can eat her lunch in the nurse’s lounge with a stool specimen in her pocket.

  46. perrywinkle

    Nothing grosses me out, I can eat from a (new) emesis basin while discussing hematemesis or other nasty discharges. Smell? A patient came in with an unrelated problem and I asked him if he was diabetic. He said yes. Doctor-“What made you think to ask that question?” Me-“You don’t forget the smell of ketoacidosis!”

  47. Joy Gordy

    I learned I could eat about anything with a tongue blade, and using specimen cups for drinking when nothing else was available.

  48. dudu@0183