15 More Memorable “First-Time” Nurse Moments


They make us laugh. They make us cry. They are "first time" nurse memories that have left an indelible mark on us. Our "First Time Nurse" article really resonated with ModernNurse readers who shared their own memories ranging from the hilarious to heartwarming. Below is a snapshot of 15 memories shared by your fellow nurses. Enjoy and don't forget to add your own first time nurse memories in the comments section below.

"ONE of my most memorable occasions (and yes, there are many) was the sweet lady who called our office in a panic! She just knew she had parasites in her colon- and could not figure out how they got there. I told her to come on into the office that day, we would work her into the schedule. ok- she would be there in a bit. Several minutes passed, I got another phone call, with a very embarrassed apology of “Never mind. It was a slug.” --Opal M.

"I’ll never forget working on the floor as a nursing student when a doctor grabbed my hand and said…” Come with me I want to show you something you’ll probably never see again.” He took me into the room of a chronic COPD patient and held up the hand of the patient.” This is called clubbing.” I was amazed, his hand looked like he had little round lollipops at the end of each finger. I am so grateful to that doctor for taking the time for showing me something that he was right I would never see again in my nursing career. I only wish I could of thanked that doctor for taking the time for one nursing student that would never forget such a simple instructional gesture." --Terry

"During Psych rotation at the VA hospital during nursing school, my assigned patient was Catatonic Schizophrenic. I decided to try to bond by pacing with him in the long hallway back and forth. After about an hour of totally ignoring me, he turned to me , picked me up by uniform and threw me against the wall. I slid down like a cartoon character to sitting position on the floor. I was not hurt, but totally stunned and couldn’t move. Out of the day room flew a 6 ‘ 5 250 lb patient , he picked up my patient and flung him down the hall, skidding on his butt. ” Don’t “F” with the nurse, he shouts and calmly returned to his checkers game in the day room. Needless to say Psych was not my forte but the drama helped me become a strong ER nurse , always ready for the unexpected which it never failed to deliver." --Debbie L.

"When I was in clinicals, my class-mate and I were observing a bone marrow biopsy. This was being done to an elderly man with dementia. We were so surprised to see the instrument used to obtain the marrow and then to learn that they were going to do this to him with no anesthesia! They did the procedure with out much incident, they rolled the man back to his back where he reaches down and yanks out his urinary catheter! Immediately after he pulled out the cath, a blood clot the size of a Golf Ball came out of his penis! Obviously the catheter was hurting and he was not able to verbalize that. I will never forget that for the rest of my life." --Mary

"Mine was the first time during clinical of labor and delivery I was watching for the first time a baby being born and thinking that was great and when the placenta came out I said wow she had twins, how embarrassing that was." Jorge RN

"The time a blind man wanted to shave himself and I said “hold on I’ll get you a mirror”
The time a wife of 50 years was told “don’t worry your husband is in good hands” when suddenly he went into V-tach and I gave him precordial thump… with both fists.
The time a mother was watching her 8 year old son die and I moved all the lines and tubing to one side of the bed so she could lay in the bed and hold him as he died.
After 28 years, oh the stories." --Rhonda RN

"First time using a retractable syringe. I was administering a B-12 injection. I gave the injection and pulled the syringe away and in horror saw that the needle was gone. My patient was cognitively impaired, so she didn’t notice the sheer panic on my face as i stared at her arm. I was mentally scrambling for an explanation of where did the needle go? I squinted at her arm….finally running my hand ever so lightly over the injection site…only to feel nothing. I squeezed on her arm…hoping to squeeze the needle out??? I was at a loss. Finally I began looking at the syringe. Yes, there was the needle. What a horrifying feeling…but hysterically funny thereafter." --Joyce

"44 yrs ago during my first clinicals in the sophomore year of my BSN program, I was giving my first injection. This pt had very tough skin. We were taught to “hold the skin taught and while holding the syringe ‘dart’ the needle into the skin. I followed the directions, darted the needle into the skin and watched it bounce off this guys hip, fly past me and land on the floor behind me! I just said, “oops!” at which point the patient looked over his shoulder at me and said, “first shot, huh”? I just smiled and said, “yes, sir”. I was mortified! I retrieved the syringe, re-prepared the injection and tried again…with success!" --Jane M.

"My “first” was during LPN training. I was assigned to prep a male patient who was going to have a right inguinal hernia repair in the morning. I was to use a razor and shave the groin and the scrotum. What the RN did not tell me, was that the hernia was humongous! I had no idea at the time that a hernia could get so large! I was shocked! And the poor man was so embarrassed! We both got through it and he told me he had waited too long to see the doctor. I asked why, didn’t it become uncomfortable? His inner thighs were very chaffed and red. He said it had but that he was embarrassed to see the doctor. I told him I was glad that he had finally seen the doctor and that he would be feeling much better after the surgery in the morning. I smiled at him and he smiled back and said thank you. I hope I made him feel a little better." --Lanie

"My first and last ever, medication error. I was a student, first clinical ever, I had a patient with meds on a four hour cycle and one was every 6 hours…I gave it with the others, it had only been four hours since his last dose. I found my instructor and told her…she said well, you better go tell the Dr. he is sitting right there…I walked over, thinking I was about to be verbally berated, I explained that I had given Mr. so&so his (anti-psychotic) medication two hours early. He looked at me and said “oh well he is a mean old cuss, it will put him in a better mood earlier than expected”. And then he busted out laughing at his own joke. I was shaking, soaked in sweat, and puzzled as to why I was about to laugh when 10 seconds earlier I was sure I was on the brink of death." --Lora

"When in the delivery room attending a birth during my rotation in labor and delivery every thing seemed to be going well till the baby was delivered and I remember how scared I was when the child was practally purple and was like a rag doll! I thought for sure it was dead and it was all I could do to not show emotion when they whisked it to the incubater and started to massage and suction when there was a sudden cry and the baby turned a lovely pink, what a lovely sound. I was able to keep my composure till I went in the hall and then just broke down in tears of joy!" --Lynda A.

"I was at my first rotation of clinicals in wound care… My patient had open heart surgery and the first time her chest was wired closed she had developed an abscess…. So now it was open. I was instructed to clean said wound bed. I was found on the floor shortly after. I too was in the chair of shame at the nurse’s station." --Chrissy M.

"Junior year nursing student … psych rotation: playing pool with a male patient at the acute care psych hospital when another man comes by, lifts my dress up and says “I know you have a gun under there!” --Mary S.

"Ah well, two months into my first job I am working in the ICU.
The surgeon made his rounds and started to reprimand me for not ambulating his patient. I was mortified. Then…I could not figure out how I can get this legless patient to do that. Duh!" -- KP

"First day on the floor as a graduate nurse, I was doing a new admission and the patient had his leg wrapped in a bedsheet. While removing the sheet to take a look, his foot fell off in my hand." -- Cathy K

What "first time" nurse memories stand out in your mind? Share your memorable firsts in the comments section below.

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Petrolina Downer
7 months ago

During clinical the instructor told the my friend to administer insulin to her patient she drew up the insulin went into the room and came back and said the patient didn’t have the boxes on her body. Our text book the sites were illustrated with little boxes.

1 year ago

I was working in my new job as an RN in an outpatient adult medical oncology unit.
I was telling one of my friends about my kids. One of the patients overheard me. He loudly announced, “Baby you look so fine, I thought that you were a virgin!” I tried to ignore him but he kept it up. I finally looked up and told him well since I have two daughters I must have done it twice. He smiled at me and went on his way. So embarrassing!

Bonnie DeWalt Stocker
1 year ago

OR rotation after being schooled to treat the patient as a’whole’ person. The surgeon scrubbing asked me if the ‘hip’ was in that room and I replied “yes sir, and the rest of the patient too”. Oh the look I got! And I was sure I was on my way to the directors office.

Richard Kingsley
3 years ago

I, not a squeemish person by any stretch, was tasked with assessing a newborn as I started my assessment I was listening to to the baby’s heartbeat and immediately became nauseated and felt faint, l left her to the LD nurses. While in the hall composing myself for such a wimp, I decided to finish my assessment with the same results. I started questioning whether I was fit to be a nurse when I realized I had put my whole head under the warmer ?

Colleen Pummer
3 years ago

Very difficult patient to do a first-time IV on…sun-downing dementia, with fragile little wicked veins. So, I obtained an assistant(witness..) and was pleasantly surprised to see and feel the needle go smoothly into it’s chosen site; only to be chastised, pleasantly, that it might work better if it was pointing towards the patient not their feet. Thankfully the second placement went as easily. Live and learn, quickly haha

Jan M.
3 years ago

It was my first med/surg clinical rotation in nursing school. I was assigned to a patient that needed an IM injection. I was nervous, my hands were shaking so much that when I was drawing up the medication the needle was clicking on the bottom of the ampule. A nurse walked by and said ” Honey, by the time you get that drawn up, that needle is going to be too dull to use”. I was so embarrassed! A few years later that nurse ended up being my Charge Nurse. I don’t think she remembered the incident and I certainly… Read more »

3 years ago

Great moments….thanks for sharing. As a new nurse in newborn nursery at a small rural hospital I remember being called to bring a baby from labor and delivery. Our hospital was set up so that I had to pass the family waiting room on my way to labor and delivery. I wheeled the bassinet by and noted that all of the family were on their knees praying. I knew that it was an emergency caesarean. I felt so bad when I had to wheel the empty bassinet by the waiting room as the baby did not make it, cord wrapped… Read more »