Nursing is definitely the best job on earth! There isn’t a single career in the world besides healthcare that can offer such challenging, chaotic, stressful, hilarious, touching and rewarding moments…all in just five minutes! It takes a sense of humor to get through a twelve hour shift and if you’ve ever worked as a nurse, nursing assistant or a doctor on a busy Med/Surg unit, you’ve definitely experienced these ten types of patients whom I describe through some hilarious and touching patient vignettes.
1. The Pleasantly Confused Patient:
Me: Hey! Just checking in. How ya feeling?
Patient: LOUSY! (Rant about random things)
Me: What if I came by in a few minutes and I washed up your hair and redid your braids? Think that might cheer you up?
Patient: (Serious thinking face) You’d do that for me?
Me: Of course!
Patient: (Leaning close and whispering) I appreciate what you’d do for me. Really. But, don’t waste your time, baby because I’m walking outta here when noone’s looking so don’t tell my nurse!
Me: (Whispering back) I’m your nurse, remember?
Patient: (Still whispering) You didn’t hear any of that. I’ll take the hair do, baby. Thank you.
2. The Patient who Wins at an Awkward Moment:
Patient: (6’3,” getting up from the bed) I’m just gonna walk there. I’m FINE, Hun.
Wife: (4’9,” pointing tiny finger) You will SIT DOWN and use the urinal right this instant!
Patient: (Sits down and uses urinal)
Wife: (Taking urinal away to empty it)
Patient: (Winking at me) Don’t judge me until you’ve tried her meatballs!
3. The Hangry Patient:
Me: Hello, I’m Angela and I’ll be your nurse today….
Patient: (Cutting me off) Do you have some breakfast for me?
Me: Not yet. It’ll be here in a little while. How are you feeling today?
Patient: (no response)
Me: Are you having any pain today?
Patient: (no response)
Me: Would you like something to drink?
Patient: (no response)
Me: How about I come back and talk to you when I have some breakfast for you.
Patient: Now you’re talking!
4. The Hilarious Patient Who Catches You Off-Guard:
Me: Hey I’m Angela and I’ll be your nurse today. I’m just gonna do a quick assessment to check you out. How’s your groin? Any rashes?
Patient: Can you at least buy me dinner first?
5. The Inappropriate Patient:
Me: So I’ll need you to lift up your gown so I can visualize the bruised areas.
Patient: (lifting gown) Whoa now! That’s the most action I’ve seen down there since 1975!
6. The Spouse-Appeasing Patient:
Patient: (Speaking in Mandarin)
Me: (Getting the translator phone)
Patient: Candy! Sweet candy, please!
(Wife walks in)
Patient: (Looking sad) Apple sauce. Please.
When his wife wasn’t looking, I snuck him a munchkin!
7. The Impatient, Anxious Patient:
Patient: (7:01am, super anxious) My doctor said I’m going to rehab today. What time are they coming for me?
Me: (Explaining the process and that transport will be here at 6pm)
Patient: (9am) Why aren’t you getting me dressed? They’re coming to get me soon and I can’t wait to leave!
Me: (Reminding the patient that the transport is coming at 6pm)
Patient: (11am, on the phone with husband) Yes and I’m gonna love it there! They’ll have food I’ll actually like to eat. It will be wonderful. I will like it so much!
Me: (5pm) OK, let’s get dressed for the transport and get you all set for rehab!
Patient: (Lip quivering) But I’m not ready to leave yet! I like it here! What if they don’t make any food that I like to eat? WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE IT THERE?!
Me: (Reminding the patient about her phone call to her husband about how much she’ll love it there)
Patient: (Sinking down into bed, pulling sheet up until only her eyes are showing) Are you SURE?!!!!
8. The Stubborn Patient who Learns A Lesson the Hard Way:
Patient: (7am, shouting) TAKE THIS MASK OFF!
Me: (Explaining to the patient why she needs her oxygen mask.)
Patient: (8am, shouting) NURSE! Take this mask off NOW!
Me: (Explaining again why she needs her oxygen mask.)
Patient: (9am, screaming at the top of her lungs) TAKE THIS MASK OFF
NOW! RIGHT NOW!
Me: (Taking mask off) If I leave this off, your oxygen will drop so I’m going to be right outside this door and if you change your mind, you let me know, OK?
Patient: Trust me, I won’t!
Patient: (9:03 am, screaming at the top of her lungs) NURSE! PUT THE MASK BACK ON!
9. The Hilariously Grouchy Patient:
Patient: (Shouting) Excuse me? Nurse! Nurse!
Me: Hello, sir. I’m Angela. I’m working around the corner today. How can I help you?
Patient: (Scowling at me) Well, I just want to ask you a question. Are you my nurse?
Me: Well, I’m not your nurse. But I might be able to answer your question.
Patient: Do you know the manager of this unit?
Me: Yes I do. (Stating the name)
Patient: Very well. Do you know her manager?
Me: Yes. (Stating the name)
Patient: And is there a manager above her?
Me: Well, then we have the CEO of our healthcare system. (Stating the name) Is there a reason you want to know the name of all of the managers? Would you like to speak to a manager?
Patient: I don’t want to talk to anybody. I just want to know whose name I should put on the package when I mail him back this AWFUL lunch he just served me!
Me: (Thinking about the Italian ice my patient didn’t want that I just put in the freezer) How about I bring you an Italian ice? It’s lemon flavored and it’s really a delicious treat!
Patient: (Suddenly smiling a mile wide) Italian ices?! You have those?! Well, that changes EVERYTHING!
I came back two hours later to check on him and I found a happy man and four empty Italian ice containers. When life hands you lemons, eat them!
10. The Patient That You’ll Never, Ever Forget!
Me: (Checking in on a young patient who just got some tough news) Hey! How are you feeling?
Patient: (Smiling) I’m alive and I’ll get to see tomorrow so I am just fine! Everyone’s posting on Facebook about the color of some dress and me…I’m just over here relaxing and happy to be alive! Thank you nurse! It means a lot that you checked in on me….
Me: (About to say that I admired her for her strength…)
Patient: …and I admire you for your strength! This is a tough job and I wouldn’t be able to do it. Thanks for being my nurse!
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