10 things to NEVER say to a nurse
Nurses hear it all: The good, the bad, and the (very, very!) ugly. From pushy patients to bossy doctors, nurses handle it all with grace. But there are some things that can get under the most tolerant nurse’s skin.
NursingLink talked to healthcare professionals, one another and (of course!) nurses to find out what phrases or questions were most irritating. Ever felt like strangling someone with your stethoscope? Then you probably heard one of these 10 things.
10. “Helloooooo, Nurse!”
You’re not an object to be fawned over. You’re saving lives here! You don’t have time to be ogled. Luckily, younger generations probably have never heard the phrase, so you can hope that it will be phased out soon.
Okay. We get it. We’ve all seen the cartoons with the buxom nurse who is swooned over by a wolf, or a man, or an Animaniacs character. It wasn’t funny or original the first dozen times you heard it, and it certainly hasn’t made a positive impact 10 years later.
9. “Do You Only Date Doctors?”
Puh-lease. Anyone who has actually spent any time around a doctor knows that dating one is next to impossible. Crazy hours. Constant stress. Big egos. Who wants to put up with that? Plus, everyone knows you shouldn’t “dip your pen in the company ink.” Spending 12-plus hours with someone can make you form an incredibly close bond, but that doesn’t mean your coworkers will make the best significant others.
Anyone who asks a nurse this is clearly watching too much Grey’s Anatomy and needs their head examined.
8. “C’mon. Nursing is Just Like on TV!”
What were we just saying about people who watch too much Grey’s Anatomy? While medical shows are a great form of entertainment – tons of nurses watch them, too – that doesn’t mean they are an accurate portrayal of when hospital life is like. Nursing organizations have even taken up arms against nurse-centered shows like Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe. Prior to these shows, nurses were almost never the focus of a medical TV show. Nurses were merely in the background emptying bedpans or taking orders.
But we know the truth. Nurses are the foundation of any good health system. They don’t have time to be the center of attention because they are always cleaning up a (metaphorical) mess a doctor has left!
7. “Nurses Take Orders From Doctors”
Nurses work alongside other nurses. They report to other nurses. They belong to organizations and unions just for nurses. Edie Falco of Nurse Jackie put it perfectly when she said “Doctors diagnose. Nurses save lives.” When it comes down to it, nurses are the ones in the trenches. Because they spend the most time with patients, they can be counted on to know when something is wrong or if a patient has made any progress.
Doctors and nurses may work side-by-side, but nurses are responsible for nurses.
6. “What’s Taking So Long?!”
Patients depend on nurses to keep their healthcare experience a positive one. But we all know that things can get hectic in the medical field. Emergencies and unpredictable accidents can happen on a daily basis which means patients may not always be seen when they thought they would.
Having a patient gripe at you and ask “What’s taking so long?!” can be irritating, especially if you are trying your hardest to make sure everyone is taken care of. It’s in stressful situations like this that it’s sometimes easier to snap instead of calmly explain that you are doing your best.
And the top FIVE (drumroll please)…
5. “So…You Can Score Me Some Meds, Right?”
Shows like Nurse Jackie and House, MD make it seems like any nurse can walk right into a pharmacy and get whatever he/she wants. We know that’s totally not true, but those who aren’t in the medical field often believe it. Many nurses have friends or family members who ask them to score some meds they don’t have a prescription for – without even considering the fact that the nurse could lose her/his license!
Most nurses can laugh this off, but, for others, it’s a real problem. To banish this stereotype (and this request!), there needs to be continual education of consumers.
4. “What Does a Nurse Do?”
Coming from a 5th grader who is doing a report on what she wants to be when she grows up, this question is sweet. Coming from a snarky patient, this question is almost intolerable. What doesn’t a nurse do? Let’s see…nurses care for patients, chart, memorize and administer medication, write care plans, take direction, give direction, handle emergencies, handle stress, handle “dirty jobs” doctors don’t want to do…
The list goes on and on.
3. “I’m Just a Nurse”
Just a nurse? No such thing!
I’m sure you’ve heard a fellow nurse say something along these lines. Doesn’t it make you crazy?! Nurses are the backbone of any successful healthcare facility, so stand up and be proud!
Similarly, you might hear “I’m just an LPN.” Well, LPNs are nurses, too!
(And don’t you forget it!)
2. “Anyone Can Be a Nurse”
What?! Anyone can deal with juggling 20-person patient loads, keeping track of dozens of medications, handling emergencies with grace, and charting it all correctly? (And more!) Yeah, right. Nursing is not for everyone, which is why not everyone is a nurse. Nurses have a special set of qualities that set them apart from everyone else.
Anyone can be a nurse? I’d like to see them try.
1. “Why Didn’t You Become a Doctor?”
This utterly annoying and disrespectful question comes in a variety of forms: “Why didn’t you become a doctor?” “Why don’t you want to be a doctor?” “Did med school sound too hard?” No matter the variance, the underlying insult is the same: Doctors are better than nurses. Not true! Let’s see a doctor take on everything a nurse handles with ease.
You know what they say: Behind every good doctor is a better nurse!