OBSERVED: Change-of-shift edition


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A smattering of my observations at change-of-shift…

Two nurses—one leaving shift, one coming on—meeting in the hallway and exchanging four words, then high-fiving each other and continuing on their original courses. There’s nothing like reporting off to the same person three shifts in a row.

A nurse who’d single-handedly prevented a disaster when the spike came out of a bottle of tube feed passing it off with an “Oh, yeah, I changed your tubing and hung you a new bottle.”

A brand-new nurse, still with a preceptor, giving perfect report, including the fact that she’d re-sited IVs on four patients that day.

The house supervisor dropping chocolates and peanut butter crackers on every nurse’s computer-on-wheels as he passed through.

Report shouted through the bathroom door by the offgoing nurse to the oncoming nurse, as the offgoing nurse was changing clothes for a hot date that night: “I SAID, I REPLETED HIS K THIS MORNING AND HIS RECHECK WAS FOUR-POINT-TWO!” Thank goodness she hadn’t had to disimpact him.

Three nurses stopping on their way out the door to help turn and lift a patient with chronic diarrhea, dementia and a severe case of the too-heavies.

The look on the oncoming nurse’s face when the day nurse said, “And by the way, she doesn’t really have a urethra as such, so try not to pull out that catheter, okay?”

A day-shifter chasing a night-shifter who just wanted to do “one more thing” off the floor with the words: “You go home and snuggle that baby.” She meant the night-shifter’s new puppy.

A resident who’d been at another facility for six months returning to the floor and being greeted with shrieks of pleasure, hugs and promises of pizza later.

Four nurses doing The Monkees’ walk off the unit, arm in arm.

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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