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Unspoken Rules and Truths of Nursing

*Original post released on 12/22/2022

Whether you’re new to nursing or a seasoned nurse, there are just some universal rules and truths of nursing that exist no matter your specialty. In this article, I want to review some of those I find to be most pertinent. Feel free to leave a comment with your own unspoken rule/truth of nursing if you feel there’s one I’ve missed. I’d love to read them! Let’s dive in.

  • Each professional specialty has its own area of expertise. You are colleagues, not *necessarily* superior-inferiors. It is NOT okay for you to be disrespected. It is okay to question orders that do not seem appropriate for the patient. On a similar note, doctors are not your friends…many will throw you under the bus to save their own hide in a moment’s notice.
  • Do not keep contact with patients and/or family members outside of the hospital.
  • Have the next drip or bag of fluids available, scanned, and/or ordered for he oncoming nurse. Never leave them with dry fluids or drips.
  • Plug in your IV pumps and electronic equipment. Remember to restock after yourself.
  • Never say the “Q” word, “C” word, or “B” word unless you want chaos to ensue (quiet, calm, boring). Also, full moons aren’t fun…
  • You cannot and will not know everything. What you can do is know how to find information and answer your questions. Remember, the nurse that doesn’t ask questions is likely not a very safe nurse.
  • Anyone can help with daily care activities. It shouldn’t always or just be deferred to CNAs or patient care techs. Also, you are never too qualified to answer a call light. Remember to thank those staff members that go out of their way to assist you in turning, cleaning, boosting a patient.
  • Set an alarm or have a pager buddy in case you have an overly chatty patient or family. On a different note, keep in mind that it is likely your patient will act and cooperate better if you listen and try to understand them.
  • Be the nurse you’d want to have taking care of you if you were in the hospital.
  • DO NOT eat your young! See nursing students and new nurses as clean sponges. Your guidance can make or break the direction their career takes, their outlook about nursing, and whether or not they are excited to be nurses.
  • Always know your exit. Never allow a patient or family member get in the way of you and your exit.
  • Trust your gut and your patient, especially if they tell you something isn’t right.
  • Be the nurse you want to get report.
  • Insure your license! Cover your a$$ during every interaction between you and your patient(s)
  • Do not say “it’s not my patient” when someone needs help. Imagine if it were you.
  • Dementia patients do not get confused, act out, or refuse meds or interventions on purpose. It’s their condition.
  • Don’t pretend to care. You’re no fooling anyone.
  • Teach each patient as a new grad, and don’t be biased by a nurse’s report. They may have had a bad shift, but your patient(s) only may or may not have contributed to her.

There are plenty more unspoken rules/truths of nursing. Whether or not these apply to you, I think at least a few people will enjoy most of this list. Like I said, if you have one or more to add, leave a comment below. Until next time, happy studying!

Andra Alyse

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