10 more things only nurses understand


Shutterstock | michaeljungShutterstock | michaeljung

Superstitions, secret codes and special language—they’re part of any profession. What do nurses have that nobody else does? As a follow-up to my post last year, here are 10 more things that only nurses understand.

1. How the word “quiet” is like “You-Know-Who” or “The Scottish Play”: You never, ever say that word at work.

2. Why one pair of hemostats isn’t enough. Why stop at one when you can have two to undo stuck IV line connections?

3. The feeling of taking off your shoes at the end of a day that’s been beyond crazy. It’s not just a relief; it’s a ceremony.

4. How you feel like Cinderella when you finally find a box of gloves in your size.

5. The mild anxiety that accompanies any appearance of blood where it ought not to be.

6. That mingling of sadness and relief when a patient who’s really been suffering finally gets put on palliative care.

7. Hearing a doctor who doesn’t know you’re outside the door talk you up to a patient.

8. Punching out at the end of the day and knowing you haven’t left anything undone.

9. How often we use gallows humor just to get through the day.

10. That perfect IV stick on the patient nobody else could get an IV on.

What would YOU add to the list?

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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