10 more things only a nurse would say


Thinkstock | Feverpitched

Thinkstock | Feverpitched

In addition to all the academic knowledge and skills you have to learn during your journey to become a nurse, you also have to learn a new language. This particular language has different versions, different spellings and different meanings than what you’re used to.

Everything from slang terms, words with Latin origins and good old acronym overload will saturate your brains so much that they become part of your repertoire outside of your nursing world. Just ask friends and family of nurses. We speak in foreign tongues pretty much 24 hours a day.

While our language can be married with the dialect of other medical and health professions, there are some terms that are just exclusive to our world. Here are 10 of them that just keep cropping up:


Those darn care plans–can’t seem to escape the clutches of those demon-like documents, can we? It used to be a carry-over for the reasoning behind an intervention. NOW we use it casual convo to explain why we made a certain choice…even if it was something as simple as what color socks we decided to wear. *sigh*

“As evidenced by”

Yep. Darn care plans AGAIN. I swear, we’ve been scarred for life, haven’t we? Luckily this phrase doesn’t have much use outside of our nursing world. I can’t think of a time I’d use this phrase other than to list an example of a specific manifestation.

Although I’m pretty sure we’ve used it to explain a phenomenon before. *sigh*

Darn care plans (have you noticed my angst toward them yet?!).

“Pleasantly confused”

ONLY nurses would live in a world where confused needs a descriptor. I mean, seriously. You know how your shift is going to play out if you hear “pleasantly confused” versus just “confused.” We all would rather hear pleasantly confused…I guarantee it.

“BIIIG pinch”

Or you could substitute the word “prick” for pinch. It’s our kind way of warning our patients we’re about to shove a needle directly, and on purpose, into their skin. There’s no kind way to prepare someone for that…but we sure do try, don’t we?

“High, hot, hell of a lot”

I’m showing my age with this one. I remember singing this lil’ ditty the other day..and a younger nurse standing next to me looked at me like I had four eyes.

*sigh* (Am I really getting that old?)

New nurses used to utter this chant when a first learning how to prepare an enema. Usually a soapssuds enema.

  • Hold the full enema bag high in the air
  • Make the water hot
  • And fill the enema bag full with a “hell of a lot” of water

The three Hs ensured a “positive” outcome to the enema…heh heh.

“Can you waste with me?”

No, I didn’t say “get wasted.” For anyone who works with meds locked up in the AccuDose or Pixus systems, you need a witness to waste certain medications properly. In most cases the meds are narcotics, but also can be an array of other meds. In any case, this is overheard when a nurse is needing to discard and “waste” a monitored medication.

“Butt paste”

Yep, just like it sounds. Ironically, this is a particular product’s brand name. But like everything else in the health care world, we use a common or popular name to identify all similar products. So anything used to help create a good skin barrier on someone’s backside is called good ol’ butt paste.


Pretty self-explanatory here. We suspect a good old GI infection based on what the BM smelled like. For seasoned veterans, this smell becomes quite the sixth sense of sorts. I’ve known many nurses who can identify this horrible infection well before any lab reports a result.

“Big boy bed”

Uhm. Sadly, this descriptor describes any specialty bed we may need to utilize that helps treat and/or prevent wound ulcers (bed sores). Whether it’s a sand-filled mattress, air mattress, rotating mattress, etc., they’re all referred to as a “big boy bed.” Unfortunately, the patients that require these beds are generally morbidly obese.


This word has a completely different meaning for someone who works in billing. For nurses, it has to do with Code Blues (or whatever your facility is calling them now). We use it to describe the entire process from start to finish, regardless of outcome.

Care to add any more phrases that are specific to nurses? I KNOW there have to be more out there.

Psst: Want more “things only a nurse would say”? Click here!

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