Top 10 reasons you KNOW you’re a nurse


Image: Peter Dazeley/Photodisc/Getty Images

1. You wash your hands before you use the bathroom.

Isn’t microbiology a wonderful thing? My microbiology class scared the be-jeezus outta me. After that class I never looked at another public bathroom, restaurant, or salad bar the same. Things I notice about the ‘cleanliness’ of society leaves me speechless sometimes. If they only knew what they were really touching.

2. You know the smell of different diarrhea to identify it.

Can you say C-diff? And on that note you can also differentiate different disease processes or infections simply by their smell. Ever smelled GI bleed? How about pseudomonas?

3. You check the caller ID on your day off to see if anyone from the hospital is trying to call and ask you to work.

You’re lying if you’ve never done this.

4. Discussing bodily fluids over a gourmet meal seems perfectly normal to you.

I’m married to a nurse, so we speak freely all the time during our conversations. We have to ‘check’ ourselves – or be told to ‘check’ our topic of conversations when we have family gatherings. It’s not pretty.

5. Every time someone asks you for a pen you can find at least 4 of them on you.

Nurses and their pens. You know very well you hoard and protect your ‘good’ pen, or your ‘favorite’ pen like it’s your stethoscope. I know I’ve scolded a few secretaries, doctors and fellow nurses for havin’ some sticky fingers.

6. Your bladder can expand to the size of a Winnebago’s water tank.

Peeing? What’s that? Bathroom break? What’s that?

7. You find yourself checking out other customer’s veins in grocery waiting lines.

This may only apply to those of us in the critical care world – but you know you do it. You see someone with ‘pipe cleaners’ for veins and all you can think is ‘MAN- I could get a 16 in there’. Besides it’s a rare occasion you start an IV on ANYONE who isn’t in their 90’s and dehydrated!

8. Your finger has gone places you never thought possible.

Whether on purpose or accident we sometimes wish we didn’t share this trait.

9. You think caffeine should be available in IV form.

Oh – dare to dream.

10. You’ve used the word ‘rationale’, the phrase ‘as evidenced by’, or quoted a nursing diagnosis in everyday life.

And I thought this would stop or drop off once I was a couple years out of basic nursing school! Nah. I still do it.

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37 Responses to Top 10 reasons you KNOW you’re a nurse

  1. Oh this is a great article. Same goes for anyone who performs another job. For instance, a soccer player will talk about soccer anywhere. A lawyer will talk about the law and how he solved cases. It’s natural. Had a fine read.

  2. Sean Dent

    @ Mauritius Glad you liked it.

  3. Megan Gilbert

    I love the one about checking out other people’s veins!!! So great!!!

  4. Erika Rick, RN-BC

    ‘ I empty my bladder before driving so it won’t rupture in case I get in an MVA (motor vehicle accident) aka MVC (motor vehicle crash).

    ‘ I wear my official hospital badge which includes the large letters “RN” when driving so that if I get into an MVA/MVC EMS might take extra care of me.

    ‘ I wear my official hospital badge which includes the large letters “RN” when driving so that if I get pulled-over for speeding or whatever the law enforcement officer more often gives me a verbal warning in lieu of an expensive traffic ticket. “Yes, officer, as a nurse I ought to know better than to speed.”

  5. Sean Dent

    @ Erika Thanks for the laugh. It’s really amazing how we nurses think. LOL

  6. I can definitely relate to the hand washing and washing again just in case and in between and after. You hit that one right on. Pass me the lotion please….
    And what about this one, you prefer using your own pen when you have to sign for something @ the grocery store and most definitely @ you doctors office.

  7. Sean Dent

    @ Dawn Definitely a hand-washing fool here. LOL. And yes – carry a pen with me at all times. :)

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  9. Diane RN

    I also have a penlight (nearly) always within reach.


  10. Sean Dent

    @ Diane RN You’re not alone!

  11. Dana, RN

    I love the one about the veins too. I actually said something to someone I saw with pipecleaner veins. She thought I was crazy!!

  12. Sean Dent

    @ Dana, RN Yes. We are a rare bunch. LOL

  13. Martha Vega

    Loved it!!! So true :)

  14. Sean Dent

    @ Martha Thanks! I thought so.

  15. Joe

    Hah! My fianceé and I are both nurses; when we first started dating I told her I was missing her with a nursing diagnosis and care plan. Now we have to check our conversations whenever we go somewhere nice… or where there are people.

  16. Sean Dent

    @ Joe Yes, my wife and I still do it! LOL

  17. Love the bladder one. Don’t work with a full bladder in ICU – empty it as soon as you feel the need. If you don’t, you just know you’ll be doing CPR on someone and you’re about to burst.

  18. Sean Dent

    @ Marijke Great point!

  19. Jerri, RN

    LOL….I Love It. I’ve washed my hands so much my prints are coming off. My employer made three attempts before giving up. I just can’t help myself.

  20. Sean Dent

    @ Jerri You are not alone. LOL

  21. Erika Rick, RN-BC

    On Hand Washing: On my unit you’ll see RNs bowing their heads and start to make the “sign of the cross” in front of the drug-dispensing machine. Our fingers don’t have enough oil to give the Pyxis a readable fingerprint, so we touch our foreheads in order to appease the Pyxis and gain access :-)

    • lwd338

      Go to an office supply store (staples) and get this stuff that bank tellers use to count money, its pink and it works great to lift your prints for the pyxis!!

  22. Sean Dent

    @ Erika Oh now that’s classic! I’ve actually done that (sort of). Too funny.

  23. Emily

    PS- Caffeine does come in IV form, I give it on a regular basis! If only I could give it to myself..

  24. Sean Dent

    @ Emily Shh, don’t let that tid-bit of information get out! LOL

  25. Bella

    Great article! I found myself shaking my head with every statement… Especially with the pipe cleaners veins haha so true

  26. Bella

    Great article! I found myself shaking my head with every statement… Especially with the pipe cleaners veins haha so true

  27. Barb

    Or touch your nose to get the fingerprint..always have a roll of tape with you and a penlight! (it can came in handy during a total power outage in the Hospital) You never leave with a full bladder after a shift…took care of more than one trauma with a ruptured bladder post MVA. My Mom was a Nurse too and body fluids etc was the topic of discussion at the dinner table and to the one mentioning looking at veins! that is so true!!! My niece that is a new Nurse will love this site and even this “older “one with 33 years of experience did! :)

  28. Sean Dent

    @Barb Glad you agree!

  29. Abby

    Actually, I have discovered that caffeine is available in IV form. Having been on the patient’s side of the bed, I can attest that it is sometimes used in IV form for treatment of migraines. Oh and I had an allergic reaction to it. Great way to find out about an allergy; laying in a er bed and all. And for those of you who really need a caffeine fix, Excedrin is a great one. It packs in all the painkillers to, so it can really help with the coffee urge, but it won’t cure your addiction

    • acates11

      When I was younger I used to get migraines all the time. But for some reason they stopped and I don’t even get regular headaches nowadays. I think the fact that I quit smoking had something to do with it, but now I feel blessed not to have them. I can still remember extremely bad ones. Went to the doc only once with one and it was the wife that made me go.

  30. txnursemelissa

    LOL!! This made me want to cut my maternity leave short and rush back to work :)


    You don’t have to do a rapid strep to know when someone has strep, you remember the smell of strep!

  32. acates11

    All these are so true. I’ve been retired for about 3 years and I’m still checking out people’s veins. Old habits die hard. One thing I’ve learned that I would like to pass on is Nursing Process can be used to solve our everyday problems at home as well as at work. It’s a wonderful tool.

  33. acates11

    I am a glove freak!! I wear gloves to do anything. Old habits die hard!!

  34. beachwriter RN

    I would add #11 – and it’s my personal favorite, as I’ve done it many times in addition to all the above: You congratulate perfect strangers in any random location (mall, grocery store, airport, etc.) for having a strong, productive cough.