30 Things Nurses Almost Say, But Then Don’t.

The field of nursing is complex, very stressful, and emotionally draining. While we may seem to have it all together and be all cool, calm, and collected; there are some days that make us question ourselves, our abilities, or even our choice in a career. Albeit briefly.

Some days are easier than others, but still some days your nurse may wonder if they’re going to make it to the end of the shift without their brain exploding. The amount of information, ever changing, that swims inside a nurses’ mind while he/she contemplates medication administration based on patient assessment coupled with the an uncertain presentation is stressful to say the least. It can be a load on a person to keep up with and provide the best care possible in this environment.

At times it all becomes a little too much. We get frustrated. Our patience wears thin and our tempers may threaten to flare. There’s little time to decompress and sometimes we can get a little flustered. We may even get angry.

Here’s 30 things your nurse may have thought, but never said.

  1. It’s ok. You can breathe. You’re talking.
  2. I’m older than you think.
  3. I’m not a waitress.
  4. I require nutrition to function. My taking lunch is not to punish you. I really need to eat.
  5. I’m not killing you.
  6. This is not fun for me either.
  7. I noticed you’re able to sleep, eat, and/or talk on the phone with that 10/10 pain. Interesting.
  8. Here’s the call light again. This is so you don’t have to yell “hey girl” at the top of your lungs. Subsequently, my name isn’t hey girl.
  9. Are you familiar with the words “please” and “thank you?!”
  10. You don’t have to poop everyday. I promise.
  11. So… You say you don’t use drugs. Your positive drug screen indicates you do. It’s ok. That happens a lot.
  12. Don’t abuse the call light. It may disappear.
  13. Your arms are not broken as far as I’m aware.
  14. You are allowed to do some things for yourself. For example, you may scratch your own nose.
  15. Stop being a baby.
  16. Feeling sorry for yourself does not foster healing.
  17. Be nice to me. I know 100 ways to kill you just off the top of my head.
  18. I’m not a maid.
  19. My feelings get hurt too.
  20. Your socio-economic status means nothing to me when caring for you.
  21. You are not starving to death.
  22. Removing your oxygen mask doesn’t help you breathe better. You will die.
  23. Despite your assumption, no, I can’t lift 3 times my own body weight.
  24. Yes. I “only” work 12 hour shifts. I’m super, but not super-human.
  25. Kinda like food, I require sleep too.
  26. Just because I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’m not working.
  27. I laugh at funny stuff. That doesn’t mean I don’t empathize with your time here.
  28. If crazy was a diagnosis, you’d be all set.
  29. You will be the cause of my disability claim.
  30. You are not my only patient today.

We may think these things, but we’ll never say them. They leave our thoughts as quickly as they came. And then usually we feel a bit guilty and may fuss over you a little to make ourselves feel better.

You see, the thing is that we love what we do. Yes, it’s frustrating at times. Yes, we get mad. But in the end we want to take care of you whether it’s saving your life, bringing your lunch tray, or fluffing your pillow. So, even though we may think it for a minute; we’d never say it.

Most of us have been patients or have sat with a family member who was a patient. My own mom was a chronic patient off and on before her death. So I know the other side of the coin. I know you get frustrated with me too, and you could probably come up with a list longer than 30 things you wanted to say, but then didn’t. And I’m okay with that. I know being a patient is as hard as being a nurse.

No matter what goes unsaid, at the end of the day I’m proud I got to take care of you. And if I’m lucky you will be proud to have had me as your nurse too.

What’s a controversial blog without a response? Here’s your response.



  1. Chris says

    I have said many of these and feel no guilt whatsoever :p Good article though, it was enjoyable.

    1. It’s ok. You can breathe. You’re talking. (except it was, “if you can talk you can breathe”)
    6. This is not fun for me either.
    10. You don’t have to poop everyday. I promise.
    15. Stop being a baby.
    20. Your socio-economic status means nothing to me when caring for you. (“Or your race, or your attitude. Although I am less likely to put you on the back burner if you are pleasant”)
    21. You are not starving to death. (“It may not be pleasant, but it would actually take a few weeks…”)
    22. Removing your oxygen mask doesn’t help you breathe better. You will die.
    30. You are not my only patient today.

    • Nurse J says

      I’ve said a few of these. I work long term care and it is a little different then acute care. Some of the ppl we have had think we ARE their maids etc.

      • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

        Thanks for commenting. I did a year of long term care once upon a time. You work very hard!

      • Valerie says

        Long term is the worse being that I’ve worked both long term and acute… At least in acute care they go home and you may not see them anymore.

    • Lori says

      They are crying because “afraid of needles”. Meanwhile they have a mural tattoo on their entire back, along with piercings everywhere. Stop you whining….

      • says

        I place PICC lines several times a month & have had many male patients express apprehension about the discomfort of having one of these placed. Nine times out of ten they have numerous tattoos and I assure them that this can’t be any more uncomfortable. The response I get most of the time is “Oh, well I was drunk when I got those”.

  2. Ceep says

    The call light thing got me. Does anyone realize that when the call light goes off someone might really need something? I have heard them go off for 15-20 minutes. I’ve never used one unless it was urgent. It’s a helpless feeling to lay there unable to get up while being ignored.
    I’m sure glad nurses don’t say some of those things.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. I’m sorry if you have had bad experiences in the past. I’m certain your nurse didn’t want to make you wait. The post is meant to be humorous. I always answer the call light. Although there are types of patients who use the call light repeatedly, right after you leave the room, to ask you to retrieve an item that is well within their reach. This happens a lot. This is one of those frustrating moments I speak of. Thankfully it doesn’t stop me from answering a light. I’m a critical care nurse so I’m always right there anyway. For me, a frequently pressed light means you are getting better and can move to MedSurg. Thanks again for the comment.

      • Lindsay says

        I’m an ICU nurse too and totally relate to the “if you can use a call light, you are not really an ICU patient any more”. Give me 2 vents any day.

        • Sarah says

          As a recent patient in ICU for 10 days with strep A sepsis, I think that’s a little unfair. I would have GLADLY moved out of ICU, but I wasn’t discharged. And I got chastised for having my mom help me out of bed to use the commode when I should have used the call light.

          • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

            Thanks for commenting. I’m certain your doctors and nurses had your best interests at heart.

          • Ron says

            I know its not the only reason (I’m sure our host could point out others) but *part* of the reason the hospital staff would prefer you use the call light to use the commode is a simple issue of liability. Its very sad to say it, but hospitals have to protect themselves from ANY potential lawsuits.

            My brief experience in the medical field (as an attendant in a state mental institution — and yes, I know this isn’t the same thing) has taught me that there are reasons for *all* of those seemingly niggly little rules. For YOUR protection and for the hospital’s.

            As the veteran of 14+ major surgeries as a patient, if I can reach it, I do. If I cannot, but its not truly needed (a book or something) it can wait till someone comes in. I only use the call light if I’m in distressing pain, in fear of soiling the linens or something in the room is beeping. Heck, you give me a drip with a button… you probably won’t hear from me all day! 😉

          • Tyrtaeus says

            Because if you got up by yourself and fell, you would have at minimum created a lot of hassle and paperwork for the staff, who would get to spend their day off in a “post fall huddle” conference call where educators and management droids second guessed their every action. At worse (on top of the aforementioned hassle for the staff) you’d have placed a financial burden on the hospital because expenses associated with your fall aren’t covered by insurance, even when it’s your own fault or an act of God.

        • Sarah says

          I’ll also add that I got great care and appreciated every one of my nurses. I also understand that helping me to the commode is not high on the list if someone else in the unit has critical needs. Unfortunately, understanding that didn’t make my postpartum PC muscles any stronger ;).

          • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

            Haha. That made me laugh out loud. I completely understand that! You sound like you were a great patient. Thanks again.

        • Mike Ryder says

          Lindsey, two years ago I was an icu patient for a pituitary tumor that had hemorrhage. I had to have emergency brain surgery. I just want to thank you as an icu nurse because, mine were amazing. Thank you for giving of your God given gifts. God Bless and Thank you.

    • jenny says

      15-20 minutes is long enough for a code blue. It’s long enough to intervene on a patient’s benefit to prevent a code blue. If a nurse cannot to you in 15-20 minutes, you need then someone needs you more than you do. Nurses have to make choices all the time. Seeing to a patient who has chest pain is more important than someone who needs to go to the bathroom. Getting a breathing treatment for someone who is wheezing is more important than someone who needs pain medicine. There are thousands of prioritizing decisions thru out a shift. We can’t tell you we are sorry your tray is late because our other patient was having a seizure. As a nurse you are constantly apologizing for situations you did not create. You want desperately to get everyone everything they need at the same time, but that is simply not possible. Feeling helpless is an aweful feeling, but that is what family is for. If you feel helpless often when you are in the hospital you may be a person that requires more attention for emotional needs. Emotional needs have to be prioritized by your nurse also. They come after scheduled medication administration. After calling the Dr for more pain meds for the woman down the hall that is whimpering in pain. Or after track care on your patient who has been in the hospital for 2 months and counting. HIPPA prevents us from detailing this all out to you.

    • carol says

      My call light was answered, “can I help you?” then hung up on. I had a trach , was on assisted vent breathing, and COULD NOT SPEAK. DUH….how about tagging my call light as such.

      • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

        Did you fill out a patient survey Carol? That’s where you might wish to address this issue.
        As far as the issue itself? I can picture a young lady fielding multiple ringing phone lines, watching a telemetry monitor, speaking to a lost visitor at her desk, and answering about five call lights ringing simultaneously. She might just respond, “can I help you?,” even if your bed number was tagged.
        Just a thought. Hope you’re feeling better now.

      • Deb says

        This one kills me. I have watched a unit secretary answer a call light and, if she doesn’t get an answer, simply hang up without alerting that patient’s nurse. My feeling is you never know for sure that an emergency isn’t happening. Although 90% of the time it’s non emergent, I try my best to respond immediately to all call lights. That being said, I totally agree with the sentiments above when folks call you to hand you things within their reach…With 3 family members in the room…etc…arrggh!

        • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

          Thanks for commenting. And I agree with you also. Especially in my unit, I always react to the light. You never know. Things change quickly.

      • Megan says

        Carol, I’m sorry about your experience but at my hospital, we have people in a whole other building and have no idea who or where the patient is that answer when you press the call light. As nurses on the floor we have to call them to tell them which patients can’t not speak, then they page us. So most nurses don’t get those calls, non medical people do.

      • kim says

        In our hospital you have to go into the room to turn off a call light. But it dives us nuts when we go into the room to answer the call light and you are sleeping in that 30 seconds that it took for me to answer the light.

      • Megan says

        Carol, I am currently an ICU nurse, but previously worked an ICU step down unit that took care of very alert patients who were trached and vented. It was our unit policy to always answer the call light over the intercom so that our patients knew that someone was aware they needed something. Perhaps this was the cae where you were. We tried to also tag the monitor so that anyone answering the lights would be aware of specific patient limitations, but that doesn’t always work. Sorry you felt like nobody was in tune with your needs and limitations. I hope you’re better now.

    • WarmSocks says

      I can relate. My call light was never answered, either, so did stuff myself. Got yelled at for that, but they still didn’t answer the call light. I felt bad for them being so short-handed. They finally started checking on me (even without a call light) after I ordered pizza for the nurses. If I’m ever unfortunate enough to be hospitalized again, I’ll order pizza delivery first thing.

    • bette says

      in response to “Does anyone realize that when the call light goes off someone might really need something?”: Does anyone realize that some people use the call light indiscriminately, their need is not emergent, and it is used an inordinate amount of times? If my 14 patients pushed their call light 2 x/hr in 12 hrs that would be 288 times. Could I (1 RN) or my team (1 LPN…maybe) and 1 Nursing Assistant (maybe) be attentive to that many call lights? Just to give some balance to your comment which is valid. When you need something, you should use the call light and get a prompt response. But if you don’t…there might be someone whose need is more urgent than yours at that moment. Thank you for being patient with us!

      • Sarah says

        Sometimes it’s hard, as a patient, to know when to use the light. I was recently an ICU patient and sometimes I needed something that wasn’t overly urgent, but still a need. But because I was bed bound, there was no way to communicate that. I know that my need for yogurt at 2 a.m. Isn’t urgent, but that doesn’t mean I want to lie there wide awake and hungry for an hour until someone happens to come in and change an IV.

        • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

          You’re right. I always tell my patients to use the light for anything they need. Anything. Anytime. And I mean that. But then when I’ve been a patient I realize I would often wait until someone came. It’s one of those things that can’t be given terms or limits and that’s ok.

    • sara says

      Its a humor post for nurses… not a patient complaint section. Sorry your 20 needs an hour seem really urgent to you. You haven’t a clue.

      • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

        Thanks for commenting. I definitely wrote this with humor for my co-workers in mind.

    • Brenda says

      Does it occur to you that the reason you wait 15 to 20 minutes is because we are in another patient’s room up to our eyeballs in poop?? Just like on the list, the one with the call light needs to know they aren’t our only patient. There is never a situation in which you can just stop what you’re doing and answer a call light.

    • jessica says

      The call light thing is actually a very sore subject. Yes, you may have *heard* a call light go off for 15-20 minutes, but that does not necessarily mean it is the *same* call light. See, it sounds the same no matter if it is room 1, room 2, room 3a, room 4b, the call lights all sound exactly the same. So while your trusty nurse may have went and answered call light number 1, in the meantime 3 other lights have popped on, and therefore you get the endless call light sound ringing nonstop that I do hear in my nightmares sometimes. This is especially a problem on bigger wards, that have a lot of patients that have multiple needs. Another situation is that when your trusty healthcare worker went in to check on Mr. Patient-ringing-the-call-bell, he/she may have found a serious situation, such as the patient lying on the floor unresponsive, and is spending valuable time picking said patient off the floor and reviving this patient, instead of wasting time walking over and cancelling the call bell. I’ve had that happen a number of times as well. Another situation is that the patient waited to ring the call bell until their bathroom needs were *urgent*, and proceeded to shriek at me that they need the restroom right away and proceed to have an accident because they let the situation go too long and cannot wait for me to disconnect their heart monitor, their IV pump, their foot pumps, and make sure they are wearing nonslip footwear. Or, it could be the old fashioned patient who I have spent 30 minutes tucking in, fetching water for, toileting, putting the bed up, putting the bed down, pillow up, pillow down, making sure the tissue box is perpendicular to the gravitational pull of the moon on a Friday before Lent, who has decided that the pillow is still just not right and that the phone needs to be a millimeter towards the equator, and I really just need a break from that, because after all, I may be in nursing, but at the end I am only just a human and get aggravated too.

      • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

        Thanks for commenting. Seriously. Loved this comment. Please come work with me in Mississippi!

        • Kate says

          Oh my gosh, that was SO funny! I can relate to the “making sure the tissue box is perpendicular to the gravitational pull of the moon on a Friday before Lent” That made me smile so big after a really long 12 hour Monday!

    • Amber Wiski says

      In the hospital I work at once you hit a call light an operator come on and asks what you need. If it is help to the commode that goes out as a regular page if it is chest pain or something more serious every person on the floor gets an emergent page. Further more, you where a tag that let’s anyone who wants to check and see how long it took you to get to the room so relax if its urgent we will get there ASAP.

    • RN says

      If you aren’t a nurse, you’re a patient. That means you don’t understand and your reply is unwelcome. Had you been a nurse, you would have realized the one about call lights applies to the patient who presses the button a thousand times a day for stupid reasons like they want their water moved two inches closer to them when they are perfectly capable of reaching it. This type of patient takes us away from the ones who can’t do for themselves.

      • jenny says

        Sorry I have to keep adding my 2 cents! This post was obviously meant for humor. But I would also like to ask those who are hyper critical about the call light issue if the work with drug addicts, prostitutes, drunk college students, people who are suicidal, people who are homicidal, or those who have mental health issues? No, you say? Well, we do.

  3. Barbara says

    You could add ” I do have a normal size bladder,I do go to the bathroom at least once in a shift I promise I wasn’t reading War and Peace in there “

  4. jasc says

    I agree with you, jenny. I have worked both med surg and critical care. In med surg, you generally have a large patient to nurse ratio(6-7, sometimes more, patients for each nurse. Each of these patients require a specific amount of time to understand their needs and the top priorities of their plan of care. In addition, we must provide them with their medications, education, coordinate with other members of the team to ensure everyone gets home safe, able to care for themselves( or have a caretaker.) Let’s not forget patient basic needs. Food, dressing changes, ensuring patients comfort. For such a large population, one must consider how daunting a task this can be for someone. But we do it because, as others have previously mentioned, we love our jobs. Truly and honestly, it is a part of who we are.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. You are so right in everything you say, especially the last line.

    • Labor and delivery RN says

      I work labor and delivery and there are times when I only have one patient (two if you count the unborn baby, but most don’t count them.) Its not just the patient you are taking care of though, its their families. Having worked all over the hospital, sometimes the family is worse than the patient. Yes I want to answer every single one of your questions and to be able to ease all your fears, but that isn’t always possible.
      Some additions for you from labor:
      1. no you can not have a cheeseburger when we are inducing you.
      2. no, I dont know when the baby will be born. It will be born after she pushes it out.
      3. yes labor hurts, that is why it is called labor and not a walk in the park.
      4. its time to act like a mommy now.
      5. put your big girl panties on and push!!
      6. No labor and delivery is not the happiest place on earth, almost none of my patients are happy until the baby is born and a large dose of pain killers has been ingested with a nice meal.

      Hope that puts a smile on your face and doesnt tick too many people off. I love love love my job, but there are lots of days I say lots of things at the desk to myself. 😉

      • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

        Thanks got your comment. It definitely made me smile! And I completely get it. Thanks for what you do.

      • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

        I remember my OB nurse being surprised by me. I came in at 8 cm. Middle of the night and anesthesia in house was in an emergency case. I breathed through my contractions while my epidural didn’t come. She said, “You’re taking this so well. Most women would be screaming at me.” I responded, “What good would that do? It won’t make the epidural come.”

  5. Sandy says

    Sooo funny! Several have made their way out of my mouth in 17 years of nursing! When I have a tough day in the ER sometimes you gotta laugh so you don’t cry hysterically?

  6. Charlene Lincoln says

    Nursing is an extremely hard career choice when my daughter was deciding her future I discouraged being a nurse nurses are underpaid and overworked hospitals in particular do not staff to accommodate the needs of pstients

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. It is hard. But it’s rewarding. It has also provided opportunities for me to work less and be with my children more, yet still receive the income I require. That’s hard to find. It has many sides.

  7. Jeff Stevens says

    Sounds like both sides can use some remembering of the best line in this whole article:
    “I know being a patient is as hard as being a nurse.”
    Which of course goes the other way.
    “I know being a nurse is as hard as being a patient.”

    And don’t forget that for some of us patients, it’s not what we do every day. We’re scared, we’re lonely, we’re scared, we’re in a totally unfamiliar place, we’re scared, we’re not in control, we’re scared, we have no power, we’re scared, we don’t know what’s going on, and did I mention we’re scared?

    Yes, our emotional needs take a back seat to the objective health of patients. And yes, you have rights too, including bathroom breaks and lunches. And sometimes patients are unreasonable, absolutely, so you have a right to complain about it (out of earshot of course). And you have a right to sympathy for the unreasonable things you have to deal with from all directions.

    It cuts both ways.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. Truly! The best comment thus far. Today’s society is selfish in so many ways. Not just this small subject. We seldom see the other side of things, but I think if we could it would help tremendously in our daily interactions. I’m a good nurse because I place myself in my patient’s shoes. When I forget to do that I’m not so much. As you said “it cuts both ways.”

    • catherine says

      i understand being scared, in unfamiliar surroundings, & even not being in control. but, what i dont understand is not knowing what is going on & feeling you have no power(unless you are not oriented…& in that case you should have a mpoa to take care of such). i may be a nurse, but i have also been a patient. im not gonna allow anything to take place unless i have all my questions answered. i may even want a second opinion(this is rare anymore). i see patients go to procedures without having met & talked with the dr who is performing such. crazieness! i know i am way off subject, but i am addressing the no power & not knowing what’s going on issue. the patient(or *MPOA) is part of the health care team. the patient/* has a say in what takes place. the patient/* makes the final decision for treatment. & may i say this to the chosen MPOA’s: if you cant be available when needed, then please dont agree to be MPOA. when someone is in hospital, a patient’s status can change quickly. & if they are not able to make decisions for self, we need to be able to turn to MPOA IMMEDIATELY. yes, it can be an inconvenience for you when this occurs. but it is also inconvenient for the patient to be in their situation. what i want to convey is, please dont be afraid to speak up to the nurse or DOCTOR. yes, they are a person of authority. but YOU are the client/customer. YOU deserve to have your questions answered. YOU deserve to make an INFORMED decision. YOU deserve to have YOUR TEAM(dr’s, nurses, staff, family, friends) pulling for your best interest. YOU have the RIGHT to ask questions & have them answered to your understanding. granted, we cant always tell you how things will turn out. we dont know. we know the EXPECTED OUTCOME. but complications happen. each patient’s body is different & may react differently to procedure, medication, anesthesia, etc. please listen when the dr explains POSSIBLE complications(this may make you more scared). you need to know. i want my patients/* to be an active team player. then maybe things will be less scary. God bless!

  8. Barbara says

    One of the best movies I saw recently (and I wished I remembered the name) was about a doctor who had cancer. It was in his throat. He had to chose the doctor who would do the operation. He chose one he thought to be less selfish rather than his friend who was an ass. At the end of the movie, he placed five of his interns and placed them in a “hospital” ward with made up diagnosis. They had to spend a week in the hospital getting all the tests and treatments like a patient in their care would get. I think we have to remember the number one problem … they are scared. They have no control. We are scared of them because they become so demanding. We thought we were there to help them heal. We are. What about the really great patients who never complain and you almost forget they are there?

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for commenting. I would love to see that movie!
      You’re right about the scared part. Illness is scary for patient and nurse alike. The patient who inspired me to write this post was frightened because she couldn’t breathe. We worked through it together. My last words to her as my shift ended were “Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed being your nurse.” I find I truly meant that. And when she replied, “I’ve loved having you. You’re wonderful.” I think she meant it too. I’ll take it.

    • Tyrtaeus says

      And yet they never seem to appreciate that they are there, with us, at this time. To appreciate how lucky they are. It has only been in the last 50 years that they’d have access to chemotherapy, safe anesthesia, extensive antibiotics, minimally invasive surgery. It’s a cultural thing in America these days: the “You can have it all” attitude, combined with the demand that someone else pays the bill. For now anyway… with over a trillion a year in just federal healthcare spending, 40-50% of which is borroed money, it’ll mean that your kids will be lucky to have electricity.

  9. Crystal says

    During my labor, c section and recovery i was so blessed with my nurses. I know I wasn’t their only patient but they sure made me feel like I was. I wish i could have brought a couple of them home.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting! I love reading compliments for fellow nurses! A nurse delivered my second daughter so I know what you mean.

  10. jenny says

    It does cut both ways, but we remain professional an unable to defend ourselves because it casts a negative light on the profession. So Nurses create blogs like this to vent and laugh at ourselves. Which in turn opens us up to criticism and ‘reminded’ by those not in the healthcare field that we didn’t do all we could. I have 18 years under my belt in all walks of nursing. Don’t presume to know the challenges of the profession better than those in it. We don’t forget patients are scared. I promise you that is baseline for those of us in the profession. Baseline. Compassion is our cornerstone. For our employers the bottom line is cornerstone. For patients customer service is cornerstone. We want to be there for every call light. We want to take your fears away. To claim nurses don’t know that you may truly need something implies we purposefully don’t answer the call light is disingenuous. If you find yourself scared in a hospital, call a family member to stay with you. That is for real good advice. 99% of the time those family members see the whole picture and bake us cakes and cookies. They apologize for unreasonable behavior.
    It’s not just a job, it is a license and a career at risk. Sometimes we are fighting for someone’s life, while we know judgement is being passed down the hall and we WANT to love on them and take care of them anyway. After all, that is what we clocked in to do.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks Jenny. I love your passion. I know you’re an exceptional nurse.

  11. says

    So true! Another good list would be the things nurses have to say but don’t really want to or believe. I’ll start 1) I understand you want to go out to smoke but the dr has ordered a nicotine patch and that should really help you.

  12. Sarah says

    As an ER nurse, I have wanted to say soooo many of those things! The two I would add that I’ve stopped myself from saying are: “you’ve had this on and off abdominal pain for 3 months, but never bothered to see your PCP and now it’s an emergency to you at 2am when my other patient came by flight and is almost coding….?????” And: “you’ve got a WHAT in your WHERE????” when dealing with a “foreign body” complaint.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for commenting. Your comment made me laugh. I’ll bet as an ER nurse you could add 100 things to my list!

  13. Samantha says

    I’m not a nurse, but I work in the hospital as a CNA. I’m not going to lie. I’ve said several of these things plenty of times. Especially the “you’re not my only patient”. I don’t have a problem requesting a patient to say “please”, after all, I wipe your butt and bring your food and am at your beck and call all day long so that the nurses can focus on the bigger things (not that nurses don’t do any of my duties when I get bogged down). My biggest frustration is while the nurses I work with have at most 5 patients, I have up to 15. The part that bothers me is that many patients and nurses are very quick to forget that I literally have 3 times as many patients who all need things all day and on top of it I have my own charting to do and I have to take people to tests. I wish CNAs weren’t so overlooked because no offense nurses, but I don’t see how you could do it all without us.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for the comment. I completely agree with you. In critical care I don’t have a CNA and I miss you dearly! I used to be a CNA and years ago when I was a new graduate RN I realized right away how much more my CNAs knew than I did! We can’t do it without you! You can never be appreciated enough. Thanks again.

    • carey says

      well said!!!! I have been a CNA for almost 30 years and I have said the same thing many time!!

    • carey says

      Well said!!!! I have been a CNA for almost 30 years and I have said all those things several times and I agree we CNA’s are under appreciated at times!! I have been on all 3 sides of the bed 1 worker 2 patient and 3 family member and I try very hard to remember how difficult it can be to be a nurse and a CNA

  14. sam says

    Be nice to me. I know 100 ways to kill you just off the top of my head. <—-kinda doesn't leave much faith in #5.

    It’s ok. You can breathe. You’re talking. <— And yet another difference between nurses and paramedics.

  15. Bratt says

    This is what’s wrong with healthcare today. You DID choose the job. Suck it up and put on a happy face and do your best to treat people as they deserve. You don’t know their story…

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. You show another side of humanity to us all. Feel free to reread the post. You may have missed half of what I said.

    • Brittany says

      We nurses really do try to do the best we can. Note the topic of this little excerpt says “things we THINK about saying but DONT.” I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, and can sympathize with the patients point of view. I don’t think this article is complaining about the job, just meant as comic relief to the situations we are put in from time to time due to certain patients forgetting we are human too. That we are not machines, and we require food, bathroom breaks, etc. Patients are always #1 on our priority list, even above our own families sometimes not to mention our, um….humanly needs (bathroom break). We don’t ask for a medal of honor, but we DO APPRECIATE a little “patience”, and EXPECT the respect as anyone at any profession would. And as far as “sucking it up”, We do “suck it up” when we are treated very poorly due to circumstances we have no control over. That’s why this is a list of things we THOUGHT of saying but DON’T. Thanks for the article, I giggled quite a bit.

      • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

        Thank you for the comment. It was wonderful, well thought out, and very true.

    • DG says

      Seriously? To the person this reply is directed to…..So, you don’t think the care of our more critical patients don’t suffer because of the amount of time we spend with those who truly don’t need us….like straightening their room because they decided to throw trash on the floor, or waiting till we’ve asked for the hundredth time “do you need anything”, walk out and 5 second later have another list everyone we leave the room?
      I’ve been an RN for 14 years Andover if the things on this list have most certainly past my lips, sometimes multiple times a night. As someone else posted, we have to laugh at ourselves because if we don’t we will go as crazy as some if the people we care for.

  16. Karissa says

    People’s comments are so negative.

    Personally, I loved this. Everything you said is spot on. As far as the call light thing goes, some people call for legitimate reasons: the nurse goes. Other times, they want to “chat” or “have a question” about something totally not important, or they want an orange Popsicle. Give me a break. It’s called prioritizing. If it were me as the patient, I would want my nurse to go to her other patient if they required help first. My desire to have a Kleenex box might not be at the top of their priority list. Nurses can’t be on the phone with the doctor or pharmacy, talking to family, giving pain meds and charting all at the same time. Give us a break! We are just one person! Hahaha.

    Another thing, my favorite is when people want a private room. We aren’t a hotel. We save private rooms for isolation. If not getting a private room means you want to leave AMA, go for it, you probably aren’t that sick. It’s amazing how abdominal pain 10/10 disappears when patients discover they have to share a room haha.

    Lastly, as for the dude with the “differences between nurses and paramedics”… The only paramedics I meet, are transporting patients to nursing homes.. They don’t even take vitals. If you can’t even take my blood pressure, why would I want your help in an emergency situation?!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the comment. I knew I might have negativity when I wrote this, but I chose to anyway. It’s the nature of publicly sharing your thoughts. Thank you again. You make great points.

  17. Ruth says

    I don’t think any of the thoughts/unspoken comments posted were meant as a backlash or with negative intentions towards patients. I think only as a nurse or health care provider, can you appreciate the humor. In general, nurses love their jobs and their patients even when our patience is tried and tested. Those patients that have gotten their panties in a wad might be the same patients whom recognize themselves in the comments!

  18. Patti in MS says

    I am a nurse and was just a patient. I may have said a few of those but hope I didn’t when I was a nurse and tried to be understanding when it took 4 hours to get out the door after my Dr. wrote the discharge order. But in general, the nurses answered my call light when I pushed it for a real reason. They understood why I was having a meltdown and helped me through it and really listened when I explained that they needed to rethink their approach because it would work for them too! (And I had a central line when I needed the blood, IV’s, Meds and blood draws that they never would have gotten out of those cruddy veins!)

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for the comment. I believe most nurses understand how their patient feels more than they think. Empathy is what makes a nurse a nurse.

  19. Darlene Bargas says

    Tho nurses are great people
    patients need to realize they are just huma
    also they have the same everyday problems
    we do bills, sick children and so on but unlike
    us their job requires that they not show it.
    I have been in a hospital more than once and yes
    I have had a call button that was not answered
    right away but the first thing my nurse said as she
    came thru the door (breathing fast) was I am so
    sorry.found out later (not from her) the reason
    a patient a few doors down had just passed
    that was related to her.
    my theory
    they do not ask for us to get sick and come see
    them but I think that they do a wonderful job.
    a job I know I have neither the talent, nerves or
    patience to do.
    I also know me making their day worse will not make me well.
    complaining over and over does not make u well
    just everyone else sick

  20. Noel says

    Don’t mind waiting. Happy to say please and thank you. Not a picky patient. Tolerate pain relatively well. My ONLY request- please don’t touch me or anything in my room until you’ve washed your hands. I’ll wait. Thank you. I know you’re busy and tired and have touched a million other people and surfaces in this hospital. I am a germaphobe with a suppressed immune system. Please wash.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for commenting. That made me smile. I agree completely. I watch for that too when I’m a patient. And it’s why nurses are one of the few professions that wash their hands BEFORE they use the bathroom, and after. Lol.

  21. Shanamama says

    I have always been appreciative of any nurse I had. Only one nurse gets the occasional negative story told about her.
    I gave birth to my second child, and he didn’t latch very well, so I used a pacifier to get his little mouth going before putting him up to my chest. The nurse walked in while he had the pacifier, bent over as if talking to my baby, and said “I know something you’d like better than that pacifier. It’s called the human breast.”
    So…if you are a nurse for OBGYN…PLEASE….do not talk to the newborn babies (who don’t understand you) with the intent of indirectly scolding the mom or being condescending.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting and sharing your personal story. As a mother I’ve received that from women of all professions and even strangers. Lol. It drives me nuts. 😉

  22. Diane says

    Our family recently went through a grueling 2-week hospital experience with my mother who ended up passing away of heart failure (exacerbated by pneumonia). We have extreme gratitude for each of her nurses, especially those in the ICU, who gave so much time and attention to her–and she was a difficult patient (high anxiety). I know that her nurses had other patients, but when they were with my mother, they acted like she was the most important one and we appreciated that. They took the time to answer our questions and concerns and showed extreme compassion and empathy. We have a new respect for nurses and want to thank all of you out there for the great service you do for others.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      What a wonderful comment! Thank you so much. Your appreciation for nurses touches my heart. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother. May God bless you and comfort your family.

    • jenny says

      That was such a nice comment about the ICU nurses. My career has been predominantly ICU. The work we did there was full filling and appreciated. The tragedy and joy of life can be found there. I think that is why I have such a heart for the floor nurses. The impression they leave is hastened by their patient to nurse ratios and they take their job every bit as seriously as the ICU nurse.

  23. Becky says

    I care for 31 long term residents on my shift. We have a total of 62 residents with a staff of 5 on midnights. I think the math on this is pretty obvious. We don’t take breaks off the unit. One emergency can take 3 people off the floor, so only 2 are left to care for the other 61. Call lights can go off for a while. We are not ignoring anyone, or hanging out, we are caring for the other 61 residents in the building. And yes, I have told people that before. I have given them my “time- space continuum” speech before as well explaining how I cannot possibly be in 31 places at exactly the same moment. No guilt.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for commenting. You have my utmost respect. I started my career in critical care. Then I tried long-term care for a year. Worlds apart! I couldn’t handle not being able to lay my eyes on everyone all the time. There’s no way to provide the very best care in that environment. I wish it could be different. I cannot do what you do. Thanks again.

  24. Kim says

    Thanks for writing this! I’m not a nurse, but my mom is and has been my whole life. I know the dedication and compassion it takes to be a great nurse and you are appreciated. Thanks for all you do! Btw… I would like to second the post that stated that the purpose of this blog is to be HUMOROUS for NURSES, not a COMPLAINT board for angry PATIENTS. There are plenty of places to voice your patient care complaints, but this would not be one of them!;)

  25. KJO says

    I understand all of the comments and the thoughts about what nurses think however…

    I was never a nurse but I was a caretaker of a chronically ill man for 25 years. And I ran him on in-home dialysis for more than 10 of them. When he was dying the nurses that surrounded weren’t thinking one of the thoughts listed. They had tears in their eyes and only wanted to help. Nurses I believe, know more than doctors do. They know what to do… I doubt throughout my journey or my husband’s that they thought the things that were listed here. And if they did? Then we all did for a minute or two. But that’s OK…

    They are expert and amazing… I wish I was a nurse.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the comment and sharing personally. I’ve worked in a variety of areas. I worked as a Hospice nurse for a few years, and I probably didn’t think any of those thoughts then. But I may have once or twice. Thank you for understanding and for the compliment to nurses.

  26. Keri Jackson says

    This is soo great!! It is spot on! 😉 this is just for laughs and we all know that we as nurses do not go around saying most of these things to patients (faces) ha! J/K! ? I’ve worked in the ER, Pediatrics and then it changed to Peds/Med-Surg floor for 7yrs I did this but ultimately had to change environments ~ the conditions and staffing were unrealistic. You can imagine who thought who had priority! Who makes the call that a 2yr old is more urgent than an 80yr olds needs and vice versa. Or a 6wk old vs. a 30yr old. I’ve also done House Supervisor on nights & weekends. So it again falls back to the old saying~ You’re are def not going to make ALL of the people happy ALL of the time! And in a perfect world, this sentiment would be wonderful but let’s be real. :) as a patient in the past, I feel I have more empathy for my nurses since I know EXACTLY what they are dealing with! ALL of it! There are soo many things besides the obvious routine patient care that other patients/families know nothing about that we’ve had to do!! And we, as new nurses, didn’t know of either when we chose this path…there are many pros & cons as I’m sure nurses will discover! Ok I’ve rambled enough, so I’ll just leave it by saying this: you attract more ?? (Flies?) with honey or something like that. My mind went blank. Haha! Just try being alil more polite etc and ppl would actually look forward to helping you! :))

  27. Colleen says

    Lighten up everyone! This is definitely the lighter side of nursing! Most nurses are very empathetic! We just need to vent sometimes, we get in strange situations!!!

  28. Rick Shreve says

    My late wife was a nurse I was always proud of her and respected what she did.
    When she became ill, her greatest fear was that she would be a “bad” patient.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. That made me smile. My mom used to say the same thing. But I don’t suppose there’s really such a thing as a “bad patient.” There’s only bad illnesses that we react to in different ways. I’m sorry for your loss. God bless you.

  29. Greg says

    Here’s one of my often used ones “If your IV pump is alarming, don’t press the call light right away. The call light ringing at the desk will only mask the sound of the alarm on the pump.”

  30. Jolyn says

    This makes me crazy that people that aren’t nurses get on these sites & make comments. This is supposed to be funny for nurses. Everybody complains about their job but only nurses aren’t supposed to I guess. We’re humans & sorry but people & family members drive us crazy at times.

  31. Elizabeth RN says

    This made me laugh! I totally agree with the Labor and Delivery comment. I have also wanted to say “You are going to be a mom now, so it’s time to grow up”. Or “You are old enough to have sex, so you’re old enough to have a pelvic exam without screaming in pain”. Heck, I may have said that to a hysterical patient when I worked in the ER. Let me tell you, working in the ER I have said quite a few of these! And a few of mine to add.

    -If you can talk then you’re not really having a seizure.
    -Just because you arrive by ambulance does not mean you won’t have to wait in the waiting room.
    -No, you may not have a sandwich tray when you’re writhing in pain at 10/10.
    -No, I will not wipe your butt for you when you are being discharged and just had the manual dexterity to pull your IV out and give me the finger.
    -No, I won’t bypass the one vein I think is best because you say it never works and then we end up using it anyway after you’ve been poked three times. Just let me do my job and use the vein I think is best! I’m going EJ next!

  32. dana says

    I love being a nurse first and foremost. I also want to add “you should listen to my discharge instructions and tips for caring for your son/daughter/loved one instead of playing candy crush saga on your phone”. I also agree with the “scared of needles” patient who has tattoos…I will never understand that :)

  33. AB says

    I don’t think what you said was out of line, disrespectful, or an exaggeration…I thought it was real, and also a stress reliever for me to read and know that I’m not the only one thinking these things occasionally! Nursing is by far, the most stressful and rewarding thing I have ever done, except for becoming a mother. I remember reading things before becoming a parent that would include rants about the frustrations of parenting, the hilarious antics of kids, and the unconditional love you have for them, all in the same breath, and I remember thinking I understood what they were saying and being slightly amused, but you don’t REALLY get it until you are a parent. Same goes with nursing articles. You don’t REALLY get it, until you’ve done it. And if someone doesn’t get it after being a nurse for say…oh I don’t know…10 years and then off for 15…they experienced nursing at a time that was not remotely the same. And are probably a little crazy and nit picky to boot. And probably throw their high expectations and sour attitude around during their admission, and are a “rotator” patient. Just saying! I can tell you are a great nurse!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the great comment! I appreciate everything you said. And I can completely relate to the parenting thing. I work part-time as a nurse and full-time as a mom to small children. I write most of my blogs about that. Thanks again.

  34. Matt says

    the Patient and their family who gets SOOO aggravated that the doctor hasn’t came in yet to address some specific issue, and you tell them that you have in fact called that physician MANY times but haven’t gotten a call back. they get soooo mad at you throughout the shift, you feel helpless, almost to the point of ignoring their roommate in the bed next to them just so you dont have to deal with the glances and the “is the doctor here yet? This is AWFUL” only to have the doctor FINALLY come in HOURS later and the patient and the family, after harassing you all day kiss the ground the doctor walks on!!
    oh yeah, and as soon as he leaves they mention to you they forgot to mention to the doctor the issue they have been hounding you about all day, could you get a call out to him? ARGHHHH

  35. says

    I have enjoyed this blog.
    I am a retired nurse working in several different areas of nursing. I remember the time when I was a very young nurse and doing my very best with the patients that I had that night, but not meeting what they wants at the minute. I still feel sad about the care they received, but I gave the best care I could with the emergency that we had that night. I was a new graduate with no back up for me. Some times the hospital does not staff the floor with enough nurses for emergencies that will happen . The hospital must take responsibly part of our problem. But I still love the art of nursing.
    Keep working for the corrections of the Health Care Profession.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for your comment. And God bless you for laying the foundation for us other professionals.

  36. Shell says

    Be forewarned, this may turn into somewhat of a long-winded post (I’ll try to keep it short). I’ve been a nurse for almost 4 years on several different units (Stroke, Tele, Progressive Care, ICU). During nursing school, I worked in two hospitals as a CNA. When I was 16, I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, 18 with Celiac Disease, and 25 with Lactose Intolerance and Ulcers. I will never forget what it was like to be a patient, for it was why I became a nurse. I will never forget what it was like to be a CNA, which is why I always help when I can and have the utmost respect for my wonderful, wonderful CNAs. I will always love to be a nurse, because it is not just my job, but who I am. As nurses, our responsibility is to our patients, whom we treat and love like they are our family. If I could, I would stay 24 hours a day to ensure you are safe, well cared for and loved. For the 12 (usually more) hours I am in the hospital, you are my number one priority. Please, don’t ever forget that.

    Your post is funny, true, a little sad (I wish we didn’t think these things!), but most of all, heartfelt and honest. Thank you so much for all that you do for your patients and for writing something that means so much to all of the nurses who read it. I’m certain you are a lifesaver and hero to many!

    P.s. I wasn’t planning on posting, but I couldn’t contain myself after the condescending, disrespectful and outright disgusting remarks made by the anonymous person above. You deserve much better – thanks for the post!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for commenting. I’m really glad you did. I love my patients. Even if I get frustrated some days. Doesn’t every working person have moments like that? I think so. Thanks again. I agree with everything you said.

  37. jenny says

    Maybe this post hit too close to home. Nurses do make the worst patients. We know this. You had experience then had to move to the receiving end. There is greater pleasure in caring for others than being the reciever.
    You know in your heart that everything she wrote was a true honest feeling /emotion. I can only hope that if I am a hit mess, I will at least be able to have a laugh at myself. Laughter makes life worth living.

  38. Jenna says

    I’ve been both a nurse and a patient before and overall agree with this. #3 and 20 are my favorites! I’m upset about all the call light complaints though. Just because people abuse them doesn’t mean you should think about taking them away. You never know when it’s a real emergency. I’ve personally had and have seen countless times when it takes someone 10, 20 minutes to respond to a call light. Yes, call lights are stressful. Trust me, I KNOW. But quit griping about them being used, please. It’s part of the job. All careers have annoying parts, this is one of ours. Get over it.
    Side note: Just because someone is able to talk doesn’t mean they’re breathing adequately. Obviously there is some air movement (otherwise they’d be dead), but there could be a very serious issue or impending issue due to reduced air. I’ve seen patients be able to talk during asthma attacks, right before anaphylaxis, right before going unconscious from an embolus… Have mercy on patients. Just because you see an issue every day and know potential outcomes doesn’t mean they’ve experienced it before. Like a previous comment said – They’re scared. They’re scared. They’re scared. Be patient. Be kind. Be understanding.
    I don’t mean to be harsh – I’m just tired of nurses complaining about things that are part of the job.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      I would never take a call light away! It’s funny people are taking this literally. As a seasoned critical care nurse I’m certain I take all breathing complaints seriously. Anyone who’s cared for a COPD patient knows you can’t assume it’s just anxiety. That’s when they code. I can’t speak on commenters. Only for myself. Again, the stuff wasn’t literal. Neither was the picture showing Nurse Ratchet. Thanks for commenting.

  39. Jill says

    I recently had a hysterectomy and my nurses were awesome! When some minor complications arose, (allergic to morphine and vomiting post surgery) my nurse angel was right on it with some solutions. I work in the health care field and appreciate the humor. Sometimes you just have to laugh so tYou aren’t tempted to try one of those 100 ways to kill somebody! Kudos nurses and CNA’s and PCT’s!

  40. Apman says

    Nurses complain too much. You think the guy or gal who has to dump your family’s leftover fith each week excepts a thank you? Get over it. This is your profession. Do it well and with empathy and kindness. Oh, and about those 12 hour shifts. Don’t forget to remind people that you only have to do them 3-4 times a week. Cheers!

    • Apman says

      Pardon me, “filth” was the word I was intending, as in your friendly trashman or woman, not “fith”…

  41. says

    brilliant! There are so many conversations I’ve had in my head but they’re probably not too PC so they shall stay in my head — I have told someone — “if you don’t respond to me right now I will Narcan you and ruin that buzz you paid so much to get” — I’m telling you it’s better than a sternal rub.

  42. Melissa says

    You listed every single reason I got out of acute care and into home hospice and palliative care. So much more appreciation. As a prior acute care nurse at a world renowned facility, I wish the public could understand healthcare changes do not mean I am your servant. Nurses where I live do not get to bill for their services…. Insurance does not cover nursing services…. Yet we are the ones who show the most compassion…(next to our cna’s of course), usually are the most aware of a client’s “whole picture”, and yet reap the majority of patients’ frustrations due to their fear or “forgetfulness” of speaking up to the MD during their rounds. … As snarky as this post probably sounds.. I love being a caregiver and hope I can always give the care I hope to receive one day.

    • Erin says

      I actually informed a pt who was getting snippy with me about wearing his NC because it was bothering his nose this: “You are not getting enough oxygen, that’s why every time you take your oxygen off the pulse ox alarms. You have 2 choices; 1)wear it. 2) keep taking it off and you’ll go into respiratory distress which can lead to cardiac arrest meaning that I then get to perform CPR on you which will likely lead to a few broken ribs, which will not feel good for you. Your choice.” We had dealt with him taking it off for over 8 hours. After this little talk, left it on the rest of the night.

  43. Janette says

    Great post! Nurses are amazing people. I’ve yet to run into one who is uncaring. Although I never heard one say any of those 30 things, I could see it in their eyes when my family member was pushing toward a well deserved tongue lashing.

    I appreciate all you do (and laughed at the post with you).

  44. Sarah says


    #7 … Similarly … “10/10 pain is like I-just-cut-my-arm-off type of pain. Would you care to re-rate that toe pain that you were actually just sleeping through??”

    Also, my addition …

    That H on the front of the building? It stands for Hospital, not the Hilton!!

  45. Diane Rn Ec says

    You forgot a very important one-
    “It says on your registration that your ‘unemployed’. I can’t NOT give you a work note till you give registration your employment information’.