The Top 10 Secrets of All Nurses

Written by Peter Jones

Everybody job has secrets, but the club of nursing is one with a shared language and camaraderie more intense than most professions. Here are 10 things nurses never tell their patients.

1. They’re pooped

Their feet are aching. They’ve been on rotating shifts with high stress and very little sleep. They probably haven’t had a regular sleep routine since adolescence. And they never seem to go home! No matter how tired you are, a nurse is probably more fatigued.

2. Handing out pills is not so simple

By the time your morning meds get to your bedside, you may think it’s just a matter of downing the contents of that little plastic cup. But the nurse who prepared them also prepared meds for dozens of other patients. And for each one, had to double-check the name and purpose of each drug, plus any contraindications and special dosages, and then acquire each drug (sometimes from the pharmacy, sometimes requiring calls to your physician). So be patient and grateful next time you chug those pills.

3. They don’t just blindly follow rules

Sometimes a nurse, because of experience and expertise, might bend a directive ever-so-slightly if he or she is sure it isn’t in your best interest. Remember, nurses spend a whole lot more time with patients than doctors typically do. And they’ve seen everything before.

4. They get sick

Though they’ll never show it, they spend all of their time around your germs and are just as susceptible, if not more so, given their schedules! No nurse will put a patient in danger when contagious, but plenty of nurses do their jobs when they aren’t feeling 100%. They’ll care for you even when they neglect themselves!

5. They have families who need them, too

Your nurse could have a sick kid at home or a sick family member in the hospital the next town over. They’ll give you 100% because it’s their job to care for you, even when they go home and care for someone else—and probably wish they could be doing that full time instead.

6. They see you as a person

You’re not just a case file to a nurse. Often you might remind them so much of someone in their lives—a parent, child, or friend. Even if you or your case don’t perfectly resemble their favorite uncle Joe, they’ll often be struck by some personal connection or will identify with some aspect of you or your treatment.

7. They fight for you

You’ll never know it, because it isn’t very nurse-like to boast of such things, but nurses are constantly going to bat for their patients. If they disagree with a doctor or they want to make you more comfortable, they’ll do everything they can to set things right.

8. They don’t want to lose you

When things go scary and the crash cart rolls out, nurses are terrified. They may not show it—in fact, they operate like elite officers to move efficiently and perfectly through the life-saving steps they’ve been trained to take. But inside, they’re panicking, and utterly relieved when you pull through. Nurses never want to lose a patient. Never.

9. They take their work home

Ever heard a nurse promise to pray for you or your loved one? That’s not an empty threat. When they’re home and off the clock, chances are they think of you from time to time and wonder how you’re doing. If they’re worried enough, they’ll probably call a colleague to inquire.

10. They very likely have had a rough day

If your nurse seems distracted, it’s not that he or she doesn’t know what’s going on with you or that you’re getting sub-par care. Nurses deal with many, many patients at a time–and due to the nature of the job, many of those patients are very sick. Your nurse might have even lost a patient that day. Yes, nursing is their job, but they’re human, too, and helping sick people day in and day out can take its toll. Have empathy, and know your nurse is doing the best she/he can.

About all other things, it’s safe to say, nurses are an open book.

About the author

Peter Jones