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My favorite things about being a nurse…


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What’s your favorite “thing” ever about being a nurse?

I have several. Tops on the list: Working in neurology, you gain a basic knowledge of all the little weird bits of the brain that other specialties never hear of. It’s fun to stump or impress professionals with a good background in, say, urology or cardiology (or even neurosurgery!) with the blasé pronouncement that, yes, you’ve seen those symptoms before, when a patient had a blockage of the third branch of the left-lateral mid-coronal whangdoodle, but only on alternate Thursdays.

Another cool thing, along those lines, is the stories you get to tell. Did I ever tell you the one about the guy who stroked out his entire corpus callosum? How about the woman whose only symptom of stroke was that she couldn’t read out loud? Believe me when I say that Oliver Sacks barely scratched the surface in all of his books.

Then there’s the swag. When you do neurology, you get pockets full of cool things like reflex hammers and penlights. You get toothpicks, cotton swabs, von Frey hairs (that’s a set of bits of monofilament to test fine touch perception), and flip-books full of cartoons to describe and words to repeat. Walking down the hall with your lab coat pockets stuffed with testing widgets, you look like a well-groomed mad scientist.

And finally, there’s my favorite thing about being a nurse in general: the variety of people you meet. Working in an academic setting, I meet folks from all over the world. I’ve met a professional rodeo clown, an auctioneer, a couple of Nobel laureates, a guy who spent 10 years studying sociocultural norms in various groups who live in the Sahara desert, and ordinary people who do ordinary things very well. I work with doctors and nurses from countries I’ve had to look up on maps. You wouldn’t believe our parties. Or, come to that, our potlucks.

Happy Nurses Week! May your next year in nursing be filled with all the cool trivia, neat swag and interesting encounters that make our jobs so much fun.

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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