Break Room

The Most Important Rule For Nurses: The Word That Shall Not Be Named


Quiet is a “4 letter word.” Not in the actual sense, but in the sense that it is a word that should never be uttered out loud, or even thought of during your shift. Saying “things are quiet” as you sip on a cup of coffee at your station is the equivalent of screaming fire inside of a crowded movie theatre.

The word quiet is the “Murphy’s Law” of the nursing world. In other words, the moment a nurse makes a casual comment like “things sure are quiet tonight” a domino drops, starting a chain of events that will turn that quiet night into a nightmare.

Murphy’s Law – A supposed law of nature that basically states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong… and at the worst possible time.

Yes, saying the word “quiet” during a nursing shift is that serious. Babies will become inconsolable, coffee will spill on important paperwork, and your favorite pen will explode in the pocket of your new white scrubs. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The effect of the “Q-word” will vary depending on your specialty or the floor you happen to be working on. For example, if you are a surgical nurse and you say that the board looks quiet for the next few hours, there will suddenly show up 20 patients who need an emergency appendectomy. Or heaven forbid, you are on the labor and delivery floor when a nurse comments on how quiet things are. Next thing you know you’ll be shuffling a dozen women who are all hell bent on giving birth at the exact same time. If you think that is bad, just imagine the Grey’s Anatomy-type of disaster that would befall if the word passes the lips of a nurse working the emergency room.

The speak not of the “Q-word” rule does not only apply to a hospital environment. Nurses working in medical offices know all too well the dangers of mentioning the seemingly mundane passing of a work day. Suddenly the phone lines light up, the waiting room fills up, and that cup of coffee you just poured is left to go cold at the nurse’s desk. If your office specializes in pediatric medicine, get ready to take about 30 throat swabs for strep, while those working with dermatologists will see a sudden onslaught of rare skin conditions.

Murphy’s Law is one to take very seriously, especially when your workday is as unpredictable as a nurse’s is. Don’t tempt fate by pointing out the obvious, just relish in the tranquility QUIETLY and enjoy that cup of coffee while you can.

Nurse HERO Spotlight: Jarrud Knapp

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