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Superstitions in Nursing

*Original post released on 3/13/2023

In many jobs, at times there are certain superstitions that workers abide by to prevent bad energy or events from happening during their shift. Nursing is NO exception. In fact, healthcare workers often have a multitude of superstitions and some quirky at that. There are even some superstitions that are specialty specific. In this article, I want to take a light hearted approach and discuss some of the more common superstitions observed in nursing. Let’s see if you share any of them…and if you don’t, please let me know in the comments below what your nursing superstitions are! So let’s dive in and list some of them!

  1. Many L&D nurses will avoid preparing supplies for a Cesarean Section until the last possible moment, because they believe it will result in a C/S delivery for their patient.
  2. An obvious one – the full moon. This night tends to bring out the crazies and add to the chaos of a typical shift. Along with this comes the belief that bad weather can bring along with it a rough night or spontaneous obstetrical deliveries.
  3. A fly in the hospital is often believe to signify an impending death on the horizon.
  4. Many units have certain rooms that are deemed to have “bad energy” for whoever is admitted to the room…often related to scenarios involving dying.
  5. For ICU nurses, when removing an arterial sheath or an arterial line, it’s believed that having atropine at the bedside or taped to the window can help ward off a vagal response with bradycardia.
  6. DEFINITELY a common one – avoid using the “Q,” “C,” “S,” and/or “E” words. These are: quiet, calm, chill, slow, and easy.
  7. There’s also the belief that bad events often come in patterns of three.
  8. For unstable patients, there are a few superstitions nurses tend to hold. For instance, keeping a crash cart outside of their room can possibly help ward off a code. In addition to that, for your full code unstable patient, some nurses will tie a knot in the sheet at the end of the bed on the right side to ward off a code from happening. If the patient passes, some nurses will open a window to “let the patient’s soul out.”
  9. Nurses in the ICU will often turn all the lights on and have a room ready for admission when a “code blue” is called with the intent of preventing the admission from coming to ICU. Similarly, many nurses will also prep open rooms for admission in hopes that advanced preparation will ward off an admission.
  10. Some healthcare workers will avoid ordering food throughout their shift because the chaos tends to usually increase around the time delivery is about to happen.
  11. Avoid bringing things to work to do in your downtime because this will often ensure a busy shift.
  12. don’t change the date on your patient’s whiteboard before midnight because it can contribute to a crazy shift.
  13. Some workers have a set routine that works for them or “lucky charms” that seem to bring them good luck during a shift or ensure a smooth shift versus when they don’t stick to routine or forget the item.
  14. Don’t mention a patient possibly being an “easy stick” when preparing to obtain lab samples or place an IV.
  15. Don’t mention leaving early or hoping the oncoming nurse shows up early. On a similar note, avoid packing up for the end of the shift early because it can contribute to a prolonged shift.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading through this list of nursing/healthcare superstitions! Maybe you have heard of some of these, but not others…or maybe you’ve heard them all! If you have a superstition that I’ve missed in this list, which is entirely humanly possible…especially in the world of healthcare, drop them in the comments below. Until next time, happy studying!

Andra Alyse

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