12 memorable “first-time” nurse moments

Nursing is a profession filled with first-time experiences. For better or for worse, we’re pretty sure they never come to a stop.

Then there are the “firsts” themselves—we don’t need to tell you about the dramatic range of these experiences. Whether they’re traumatic, inspirational or downright bizarre, they certainly have a way of keeping nurses on their toes. Because we know that a nurse’s “firsts” are so often memorable, we wanted to hear about some of your most, well, impressive inaugural moments.

As always, your fellow nurses’ responses via our Funny Nurses Facebook page did not disappoint.

Side note: If there’s one conclusion we can take away from all the not-so-light reading we did, it’s that although nurses have a lot to worry about, boredom is not high up on that list.

1. “The first body I ever had to prepare for the morgue was shortly after graduation and I’d never handled a dead body before. We rolled the patient to place the body bag underneath him and a loud groan of air escaped his lungs, and I dropped everything and ran for the hills! The nurse I was with could hardly talk, she was laughing so hard.” —Krista S.


2. “First time a patient sneezed up all their puréed pizza all over my nice white scrubs. In nursing school! Haha. First day of clinicals.” —Meredith F. 

3. “Had a patient with a radical neck dissection with a trach and feeding tube—he would escape the hospital, go to the local bar and pour beer down his tube!” —Judi K. 


4. “First day of nursing school in the hospital…the very first thing my teacher made me do was bathe a 500-pound man. You haven’t had a bad day until you’ve had to bathe a 500-pound man while he’s trying to argue politics.” —Allan

5. “I remember the first (and last) time I tried to reorient a patient (like the nursing text says you should). It’s also the first time I got hit in the back with a telephone. Never again…when someone tells me it’s 1924, I smile nicely and write down, ‘Pt is not oriented to time.'” —Mike D.

6. “First time giving PEDs shots, nearly cried afterward.” —Alease M.


7. “Showering my first heavy-set geriatric. She instructed me to lift ‘the girls’ really high and scrub big-time…AWWWWKWARD!” –Heidi K. 

8. “While in nursing school I had to give a vitamin K shot to a newborn. I was so nervous I forgot to make sure the needle was on tight to the syringe. I pulled the syringe out and the needle stayed in the baby. I was horrified, but the baby didn’t even cry. My instructor said he’s a tough little booger.” —Karie B.

9. “I remember the first time I felt proud of a patient. She was a 15-year-old laboring patient during my preceptorship and she birthed her son with such strength, grace and determination. I couldn’t hold back the tears watching someone that young maturing right before my eyes. She looked like a powerful goddess that morning!” —Lynette C.


10. “My nursing first: a geropsychiatric patient who managed to swing her Foley bag like a lasso and hit me up the side of my head with it.” —Annette S.

11. “My first day of clinicals in nursing school…I was chosen to straight cath an elderly man. I passed out cold and had to sit in the chair of shame at the nurses’ station for an hour.” —Liz M.

12. “First time doing CPR. Fourteen-year-old car accident victim. I was a 16-year-old nurse aide.” —Steve P.


Go ahead—share your own most memorable “first” in the comments section below. It might help your fellow nurses see their own a little differently.

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13 Responses to 12 memorable “first-time” nurse moments

  1. Gypsy4g

    Let’s see,…….was it my first time in an inpatient psych unit as a student , my patient went AWOL out the door onto the sidewalk running top speed in a patient gown butt showing out from an open back gown with me running behind him? It was 1970 and there were no electronic doors . Or…… Was it the gentleman pt who carefully saved me a stool sample ( from the day before) in a open bed pan in a pt closet!

  2. Jennifer Raymond

    My first time attempting to insert a foley in a 60 year old man who had esophageal cancer with a feeding tube whose son chose to stop him from pouring beer down his tube and started going through DTs. This dude was well endowed and was having such severe tremors and literally peeing everywhere that attempting to insert the tube was quite the challenge. The force of the urine kept pushing the dang catheter out before I could get the balloon inflated. Let’s just say my coworker and I took showers after cause urine went everywhere including our hair. Ugh!!!

  3. mymagicslinky

    I was a nurse for 1-2 years but pretty new to agency work. I was working in a new-to-me hospital and had 3 patients for the first time in my career. I was having a horrible day and had no time to eat, pee, etc. This one patient had been asking for pain medicine and it took me a while to finally get to her. I was having trouble with the also new-to-me computer system and as I was trying to scan her pain meds she says, “you just care more about your computer than you do me”. I almost lost my head and walked out forever that day. Unbelievable.

  4. Donna Woodward

    I was helping a female patient off the toilet and something was hanging out of her that I had never seen before. I gasped “oh my God, don’t move!” She says casually, “oh honey, did my uterus fall out again?” I was mortified, not sure what was worse, her uterus dangling in the toilet water by what looked like a long string or the casual manner she was handling it while she proceeded to tell me to “just shove it back up in there.”

  5. rml

    #5: assessing a pts orientation & asked her if she knew who the president was, as she couldn’t give me the date, and she said Jimmy Carter. I was afraid to tell her it was Barack Obama, so I just breezed on to rest of my assessment. I was scared if I explained who Obama was it would confuse her even more. Bless her heart, even with the confusion, she was such a sweetie!!

  6. dondi2735

    I was working as a “Student Nurse Extern” while in nursing school which is a glorified title for “butt wiper” but I took pride in my work and considered it good experience to apply to my future nursing career. I was working in a nonprofit hospital that was in a sketchy part of town. Knife wounds and gun shots were the norm for the ER, to say “rough neighborhood” would be putting it lightly.
    I was on the med/surg floor caring for a local. She was AMS and had a foley attached to the side of the bed along with a bed alarm. We heard the bed alarm go off from the nurses station and rushed to her room attempting to catch her before she fell and hurt herself, she was probably in her late 50’s, early 60’s. We get to the room and sure enough, she is halfway between her bed and the bathroom she was attempting to get to. Who knew that a foley catheter could stretch that far (remember her foley was tethered to the bed) about the time we walked in the room the foley had stretched as far as it’s limits would allow and came flying off the bed toward it’s inhabitant, it caught up to her in about 0.01 seconds and hit her hard in the rear making a VERY loud “slap” sound. The AMS woman, hearing the sound and feeling the bag catch up to rearend ,screams “I’ve been shot” and drops to her knees and then lays down on her belly as if she had actually been shot (picture a dog playing dead.) She is steadily screaming “call me an ambulance you imbeciles, can’t you see that I’ve been shot?” Myself and her nurse, attempting to stifle out laughter finally convinced her that she not been shot and she didn’t need to get up and go to the bathroom to pee. Maybe you had to be there but I will never forget it and it never ceases to make me laugh.

    • Jacqui Kreimer Roell

      HA! That is hilarious. I laughed out loud, literally

      • dondi2735

        Thanks Jacqui, I’ve told that story a time or two in the past and it was usually met with a blank stare. I was never sure if the blank stares meant they didn’t “get it” or if they felt that I was wrong in finding laughter in the situation. In the many years that I’ve nursed since that time, I have found that we ,as nurses, have to find the laughter in situations like this or otherwise lose our minds. I always laugh when I remember this story even if it does make others think that I am not an empathetic nurse.

  7. Jacqui Kreimer Roell

    First time I ever put in a Foley was on an 80 something year old man in the VA hospital. Huge prostate and major urinary retention. Finally got the foley past his prostate and from the end of the Foley exploded pus. Literally. All over me and all over my instructor. The basin filled up with pus and some urine. My instructor told me I will never see this again. After 20 years of nursing, I can say that he was correct!

  8. Erica Mowen

    Very first straight cath in nursing school was on a “gentleman”. I use this term loosely-you’ll understand in a minute… So I prepare my field, get everything ready. I’m very nervous, the “gentleman” was quite the joker. My instructor is telling me what to do, I start the procedure. The said “gentleman” is watching TV, as I start he proceeds to reach over the bed rail and grab a handful of my right butt cheek. I froze, my instructor asked him to kindly remove his hand, I looked at her & said “if it keeps him from moving, he can leave it there.” He just looked up at me with a big smile.

  9. patyerian

    During nursing school, first time patient bath and I was given an elderly blind African-American gentleman. I bathed most of him and realized he had spilled most of his powdered scrambled eggs into his “private” region. Having different hair type etc. I wasn’t sure what to do. He obviously couldn’t “finish his bath” as we used to say, so I attempted with a washcloth. Total smush. Now what? I then proceeded to use a fine tooth comb to try to comb the residue out. At long last the poor blind man said “Dear, just WHAT are you doing down there?” I was mortified and couldn’t even explain. Clinical processing was especially funny that morning and my instructor never let me forget it.

  10. Patty8201

    After 33 years in nursing I have experienced pretty much all. The one memory rhat does make me smile is when as a young student nurse I had to get a stool specimen from a 5 yr old little boy. I took the cup in and explained what I needed him to do ( no family members were there) and told him I would be right outside the bathroom door if he needed me. I waited, and waited..finally I asked if he was able to go poop in the cup. No response. I asked again using every name I could rhink of to describe what I needed and what a small child might know. Still no response. Finally…I asked were you able to use the bathroom in the cup…I almost choked from laughing when he yelled his response “I SH*T IN THE CUP LIKE YOU TOLD ME TO DO”. Our of the mouth of babes!

  11. Susan Cleary

    When I first started working at a local hospital after nursing school, I was asked to Cath a 60ish male with urine retention. I began the procedure and was thrilled when I inserted it and got urine return right away. As I filled the balloon with 5cc of NSS I noticed that his scrotum was getting larger and larger. I was in a panic and quickly excused myself to get the charge nurse. A resident overheard my exchange and panic. I kept saying “I only put 5cc in there, I don’t know what happened.” The charge nurse and the resident said nothing but smiled at each other and returned to the room with me. The resident asked to examine the patient, began manipulating his scrotum and it began to return to normal size, turned out he had an inguinal hernia. The entire floor staff got a good laugh when we got back to the desk and were told of my experience and panic.