When nurses wear the gown: life on the other side of the rail

michael jung | istockphoto
michael jung | istockphoto

Every now and then, a nurse is (not so) lucky enough to end up on the other side of the rail–as a patient. It certainly is a drastic role reversal, and paves way for a variety of experiences…both good and, well, less than good.

We couldn’t help but wonder how it felt for nurses to pass through the hospital doors rather unexpectedly as patients. So, we asked our Facebook fans to tell us about the miles they’ve walked in a patient’s shoes. As it turns out, there was a lot to be said about it. And boy, did the nurse-as-patient stories really run the gamut!

For some, time spent in the gown and not the scrubs provided a valuable lesson that they’ll never forget.

Being on the other side of the rail is part of what motivated me to become a nurse. I saw “the good, the bad and the ugly” and I decided to fight for/join “the good” so we can try to outnumber “the bad and ugly.”

–Robert Martino

Unfortunately, I have been the patient a few times. It is very difficult to let go and allow the nurse to do her job. I ask way too many questions, and don’t always do as I am told. I tried to get up or wash myself when, as a nurse, I know it’s not safe to do so. I totally get patients that push for independence now, and I often tell them how that attitude set my own recovery back.

­–Lisa Robart

Others had a few LOL moments to share with us.

I was studying for a MedSurg final last semester and next thing I know I’m getting rushed to the hospital for an emergency. Everyone was really nice and my nurses even quizzed me before the procedure to help keep me preoccupied. Apparently when I woke up (still under the influences of anesthesia) I kept saying, “Everything leads to peritonitis!” This was something my instructor drilled into my head during class. LOL!

–Kelly Traylor

I was a surgery patient and when I ambulated the halls I found myself wanting to answer the call lights because that’s what I’m used to doing…LOL.

-Ramona K. Abner

There were those who had encounters that were, well, less than savory.

After having a total knee replacement the nurse assigned to me decided for me that I didn’t need my scheduled pain meds. It is drilled into a nurse’s head that the patient’s level of pain is where the patient says it is. I advocated for myself and told her not to come back in my room, then I demanded a new nurse.

–Toni Borth Hopson

I’ve been hospitalized numerous times. Because I’m an RN, MSN, the staff seemed intimidated. Other times, I felt like a “nursing instructor.” These were NOT good experiences as an “inpatient.”

–Carol Henroid

Finally, others had little to complain about. Aside from, you know, the obvious…

I was the patient from hell. The nurses on maternity ward spoiled me rotten when they found out I was a nurse. They put up with me a lot.

­–Rebecca Duy Thang

I’ve been hospitalized three times since becoming a nurse 2 1/2 years ago. I am fighting breast cancer. Most of my nurses have been great. Really pretty much all of them! I’m one of those patients that doesn’t want to bother the nurse, so I take care of myself. Within 4 ½ hours of my mastectomy, I was off of the “needs assistance to go to the bathroom” list. I’m able to help my patients better because I’ve experienced things first hand. I became a nurse late in life because of the wonderful nurses I have had. I wanted to be like them!

–Angela Burton Wyckoff

Nurses, we want to hear from you! Share your own stories about the patient life in the comments below!

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