It’s the end of the world. What are you still doing at work?


iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

I’m a big fan of planning ahead. My to-do lists include mention of to-do lists I want to write in the future. I never put off until tomorrow what I can accomplish right now, even if it’s not due to be done until next year. I learned that habit in nursing school, where staying just a little bit behind takes all of your time and energy, and a little bit behind is often as far ahead as you can get.

So, in honor of the zombie/viral/nuclear/climate-change apocalypse that I understand, from the trailers at the movie theater, will soon be upon us, I’ve devised a list of essentials for every nurse in the event of Armageddon.

First, we’ll tackle self-defense.
In every hospital, there are mop buckets and mops, as well as carts of cleaning supplies. Mop handles can be sharpened, and mop buckets—with the wringers removed, please!—can be used as kicky helmets for zombie jousting.

Mix up a little Cidex and bleach and go to town on any undead or alien invaders! If that fails, be sure your little citadel-in-the-hospital has a good supply of hospital cafeteria food. The extraterrestrial or reanimated attacker that can plod through a load of macaroni and cheese has not yet been invented.

Then, of course, we’ll worry about food, water and entertainment.
Make friends with your pharmacists. Every hospital in the world has a stock of alcohol that’s fit for human consumption, as well as a supply of juices and sodas. A few ethanol-and-Coke cocktails will help take the edge off after a long day of slaying the shuffling hordes.

Hospital food is, by definition, not food. Therefore, it behooves every survivor of civilization’s collapse to know where the good vending machines are. It’s been scientifically proven that White Castle burgers are exactly the same fresh, reheated or dug out of a pyramid after several centuries. Plus, they give you plenty of energy for slaying Borg.

Entertainment is easy: If your facility has a rehab unit or workout room for employees, put some zombies on treadmills and let the fun begin! With a little effort, you can re-create the famous OK Go music video in your very own home-away-from-home.

Who should you have around you when the asteroid hits?
My plan is to be near a whole slew of orthopedic surgeons. Their muscle will come in handy when we’re building barricades out of beds. Cardiac surgeons are useful only if they’ve brought their golf clubs. Neurologists, while charming, are not particularly warlike. Psychiatrists will be overwhelmed by the implications to everybody’s mental health.

Make friends with your housekeeping and engineering staff now, before the crisis hits. Not only can their intimate knowledge of chemicals and sprinkler systems work to your advantage, but they often have fun tools like drills and circular saws. Dermatologists might come in handy as well—there’s nothing like a good derm consult to calm the flesh-shedding hordes of hungry zombies that’ll be knocking on the door.

If all your planning fails and you’re bitten, slimed or otherwise assimilated, don’t be discouraged! You’ll find that being one of the mindless conquering alien army isn’t too different from nursing, and zombieism beats the heck out of mandatory overtime.

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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