8 Hilarious Ways To Tell You’re Actually A Nurse

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

We asked our Funny Nurses family to fill in the blank after “You know you’re a NURSE when…” and we got some pretty great responses! We think you’ll relate – see below:

You know you’re a NURSE when…

1. When you sign the credit card receipt at the store…and everything else with “RN” – Meighan H.

2. When you can write a complete paragraph in nursing shorthand and it makes perfect sense… to any other Nurse. Conversely, it is an unbreakable code to anyone else. – Michael F.

3. When you inhale every meal you eat. Even at home literally hardly any chewing. #aintnobodygottimeforthat – Gabi C.

4. When washing your hands before using the toilet. Scrub Nurse FTW! – Makis T.

5.  Use sterile technique to open a stick of butter. – Chrissy B.

6. When you make your bed with hospital corners. – Nadine G.

7. You know you work night shift (rotating) when you drive home and sit at a stop sign waiting for it to turn green. – Kay J.

8. Being a male nurse and getting every patient questioning your orientation or calling you doc. – Carl S.

What do you think? Share your own "you know you're a nurse when..." in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. When you are sitting beside your spouse in his hospital bed, and he tells the cranky old nurse who comes to start an IV (she doesn’t know you are a nurse) that his wife says he has good veins. The cranky old nurse looks at you and says, “What are you, a vampire?”

  2. You know you’re a nurse when you’re at a McDonalds (or orther fast food place) and you hear the “fries alarm” beeping and you’re looking around trying to find what monitor went off.

  3. When you can discuss bodily functions at the dinner table without a care in the world, then you see all your non nurse friends turning a delicate shade of green.

  4. You know you’re a nurse when you are on a road trip vacation with your husband, in a strange town, in a bowling alley, and one of the bowlers has a cardiac arrest…your brain and body spring in to action while your mind is saying “Hey…you’re supposed to be on vacation!” but you ignore it and do what you have to do, the bowler survives and on the way out of the bowling alley your husband says “Girl, you were awesome in there”. : )

  5. When you go to the Beach for vacation & your children (and now Grandchildren!) bring every child in the Campground to you to “fix them up when they are hurt” before they take them to their parents!

  6. You know you’re a nurse when you feel you can estimate pretty well how many cc’s you peed at home and think about bringing a specipan home one day to test how close you are at guesstimating.

  7. When one of your most well known mental health patient, intensely looks you up and down with full curiosity in his eyes and then proceeds to ask, “Hey when did they admit you on this unit.?lol

  8. When you start drooling at every big vein especially people on motorbikes in traffic. Saying “I can throw an 18 into that”

  9. You know you’re a nurse when you hear the word ‘butterfly’, you automatically think of a needle…..or talk about blood, guts and poo without batting an eye….

  10. You know you are a nurse, when you ask your daughter to get you a 4×4. She says why do you need a piece of wood? I retired in Dec. 2019 after 45 years working for Trinity Healty. Miss so much.

  11. When your working night shift , randomly you will say in a conversation with your nurse tech “ why is he addicted with pee” lol Mary RN MO

  12. You know you are a School Nurse when you eyeball everyone’s hair at your kids parties, looking for nits. You can see those little eggs miles away. Lol.

  13. When you feel like a complete and utter hypocrite for even thinking things like “I could care less” or “I don’t care!”

  14. Having the “It’s 7am, I’m giving shift report after working nights, and realizing I haven’t given meds all night” dream….but I’ve been away from bedside nursing for 20 years, and that never happened in real life !

  15. you know you’re a nurse when you can stop in the middle of dinner, go and get sterile home kit, lance a boil on a family member, clean up and resume you dinner afterwards.

  16. When your are giving family or friends medications and put them in the bottle cap ( no med cups) and check to see if they swallowed

  17. You know you are a nurse when you are in conversation with anyone and say : You seem upset ( or distressed, angry) … can you tell me more about it?”

  18. When you are out with friends and no matter where you are, if someone falls, gets injured or doesn’t feel well, everyone looks at you and calls out,” she’s a nurse, she can help!” PS. This happens even though I am actually now retired but once a nurse, always a nurse.

  19. You know you are a nurse when you enter a train in NYC, and find someone in the ground soaked in urine, calling for help to get up. You open your bag, pull out a mask, two pair of gloves, a shoe cover, don them and run toward her to help her up, while every one else run out of the train to enter the next car because they don’t want a disease. Then you pull out your spray bottle filled with 99% alcohol to disinfect your clothes.

  20. You know you’re an OR Nurse when you tell your kids to go put it in in the “autoclave” (microwave).
    They were 7, 9 and 11 at the time and initially puzzled when I first said it, till I explained it to them. They eventually got used to my reference whenever I said it, which occurred fairly frequently.
    I had just started working in the Operating Room. We had autoclaves in each OR and sterilized a set of instruments in the room while setting up and opening our case.
    Nurse 31 yrs, OR for 28 yrs

  21. You know you are a nurse when
    1) You meet your potential spouse, shake his hand, and grip his forearm, and think, “OMG, He’s the guy. he’s got great….veins”.
    2) You look in your adult daughter’s car, and pride fills your heart when you spot the emergency miralax, first aide kit, sunscreen, and jumper cables.
    3) you answer inquires about health with ‘Did you poop, or how much sleep did you get, or how many glasses of water did you drink today”

  22. When you’re at home changing your infant’s diaper and find yourself rolling him from side-to-side to get the diaper under him instead of just picking up his feet and sticking the diaper under him.

  23. An RN for the past 59 years and still laugh at some of my encounters…like when camping in the High Sierra’s on a cold night and I see a women at the picnic table cleaning her child up and after washing him she proceeds to clean out his ears, next day I told her I guessed she was also a nurse…she was.
    The best thing was in a small town when an elderly patient of mine spied me in the large hardware store full of farmers and yelled “Hey, Nursey !!! Nursey !!!! are you coming to see me today? “

  24. When you go into the med room and forget what the heck you went in there for. Or as one my fellow nurse did. She was so tired she tired to get in the med room with her car keys. We both had a good laugh and drank another cup of coffee.

  25. When you wash your hands using the proper hand washing technique, using the paper towel to turn off the faucet…at home and at every other location that you use the restroom.

  26. After a really busy ICU shift with several codes you get home and fall into bed. Only to shoot out of the bed and are halfway down the hall before you are awake because a cardiac monitor went off on a TV show your husband was watching.

  27. When you tell someone to have their doctor check their thyroid because their eyes are bulging out. Or you know that’s not an Adam’s apple.

    • This happened to me…I was flying to Ft Sam Houston, TX for a military nursing school, & I got into a conversation with a Flight Stewardess about the “lump on the front of her neck”. She thought her neck was just getting fat. I encouraged her to talk to her Doctor about this lump. In (2) weeks, I was flying home from Ft Sam Houston & the same Flight Stewardess was on that flight. She noticed me & told me she had seen her Doctor, & was dx with a goiter that was being cared for. She was so thankful to me & I felt relieved that she did get a dx!

  28. As an LPN student, during Clinicals, my sister called one morning to make sure I was awake an getting ready for class. I had 2 separate alarm clocks and my stereo alarm set and all were going off. She asked “Are you up?” I said ” Yeah”, still in my bed. She asked what all that noise was an I told her ” That’s the alarm on my patients IV pump going off, down the hall and I’m going to check it out.” To which she said… “That ain’t an alarm on an IV pump, it’s your alarm clocks going off! You better get your ass out of that bed and get to Clinicals, NOW!” Happened 17 years ago and will never forget it, lol. I also check out people’s veins and sometimes tell them why I’m staring at them. Usually gets a good laugh.

  29. You know you are a nurse when changing a dressing and you discover that the wound is covered with maggots. The first words out of my mouth are “Oh this is great, they’re gonna clean that baby right up”, then proceed to redress the wound.

  30. When standing in the check out line and see a patient (oops!) person in front of you that doesn’t look so healthy, you start assessing him/her. When you get to the produce section and you have to put a head of lettuce in a plastic bag, you grab the plastic bag in your hand and pull it over the head of lettuce. When you get to the deli section and asked the person, “will you change your gloves,” before handling your machine sliced turkey.

  31. As a previous RN and now current RRT, some things transition well between the health professions.

    In my particular case, you KNOW you’re an RRT when your ring tone for incoming calls is a Drager Ventilator “Critical” Level Alarm!!

  32. Truly an epiphany. Can’t say how embarrassing, even waking from sleep that I spent all shift busy with everything important and didn’t give a single medication.

  33. -When you wake up in the middle of your night and remember you never got that pt a glass of water/ice. (you did resuscitate the code, handle the MI, got the right blood on the right pt) but never got that water or blanket.
    -You visually assess people in public- that one is in renal failure on dialysis… I wonder that that persons H & H is??…. WOW look at those veins!!!… I wonder what would happen to those nipple rings if he needs to be defibrillated….. that one is Chronic liver failure…..

    • Oh I so do those things… Today at the church it was, inside of myself I’m screaming at a family telling them to help this older gentleman with his walker going down an incline when it’s icy. To me it’s so obvious but to the untrained eye they don’t even see a problem

  34. I get the grocery store confessions and usually complete medical history from the person in front of me..I look at their gate and ask about the limb they are limping on…And then about 15 minutes later…I am giving out non medical advice. …like to elevate their legs 4 times a day, etc. What really got me one day I was with my daughter in line at the grocery store and a lady in front of me was going on about her surgery…
    When we left, my daughter asked me, “Mommy did you know that lady in the grocery store?” I said, “No.” It dawned on me that this is not normal…people you never met before telling you their intimate details …
    But, as we nurses know, Me, for my 46th year this year since graduation, we cannot help ourselves to help others…it is in our blood…
    However embarrassing it is to be who we are…lol

  35. I have had the nightmares of not checking on certain patients for a whole shift. So happy when I wake up and its not real. I still do this and I haven’t worked inpatient for many years.

  36. When you did background screening and the machine had difficulty detecting your fingerprints and the officer asked your occupation and you said RN, the officer replied “that’s why!”… blame it all on those frequent hand washings….RN for 20 years now… plus 4 years as a student nurse..

    • When I applied to be a foster parent, and later to adopt, I ran into the same situation! The first time was with the ink, and the second was a new fangled reader. LOL!

    • whenever I need a background check with finger printing, it takes several tries before it registers as a fingerprint.

  37. So loving and caring and don’t talk back ,compassionate,and you call back those people you thought doesn’t deserved how you reacted towards them after a misunderstanding.

  38. When I worked in the nursery, I saw a fellow OB nurse, on her day off, at the super market. I didn’t initially recognize her. She covered her mouth and forehead with her hands and then I knew who she was because I was now seeing only her eyes. You can imagine the grocery store patrons’ expressions when I said, “Oh, hello, I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.” I still laugh when I hear other nurses say the same thing has happened to them.

  39. …..when you answer your home phone or cell phone as…. “ICU this is (your name) may I help you” done this dozens of times! Or… when you are trying to call another floor’s extension and you call your own unit’s alternate ext. and you keep answering the ringing line only to find out you keep calling and hanging up on yourself!! Geeez!

  40. You know you are a Nurse when….
    Your 5 year old explains to her Pediatrician that she knows she drinks enough water because of the color of her urine.
    . . . Announces to Grandma that she needs her “Miralax” and correctly explains why.

  41. When your kids come to you with any kind of ailment and they always end the description with, “And yes, mom, I pooped today.” …because it’s always my first question. Hahaha!

  42. You are at a crowded mall…..you hear a phone ring that sounds just like your pager at work…….you furiously pat your pockets looking for your pager…….

  43. You know your a nurse when you realize it’s been almost 12 hours and you feeling a little pressure and thinking to yourself…”I’ve been so busy that I haven’t peed all day”. We have iron bladders.

  44. When you can identify the disease/condition by the smell of the BM….C-Diff, GI Bleed, etc etc
    When the full moon is a thing of absolute dread instead of a thing of beauty.
    When you dream of Xanax in a pez dispenser as the perfect Christmas present.

  45. –You SO know you are a nurse when you are completely happy eating any meal from an 8 oz styrofoam cup with a plastic spoon.
    –You know you are a nurse when, at the supermarket, you might forget essential food on your list, but NEVER the coffee…. especially when you are going in for 3 12hr nights in a row… you stock your cart with coffee….
    –You know you are a nurse when you have gotten out of every speeding ticket by relating your speed to your shift in the ICU… going to, coming from, got called in… Sad but true, this has happened to me twice in 45 minutes. One evening, I was walking a group of nursing students through the ICU, one question was ‘What is the most important thing you have learned about nursing?’ While expecting something ‘Nightingale-ish’, they got my speeding ticket tip. CCRN life….

    • I have heard this before, but a) I am not sure that I really believe it; b) I am far from sure that it would work for me , or with a female police oficer; and c) I dn’t think that being a nurse, even a tired nurse, is a valid or prudent reason or excuse to speed.
      Surely some of your patients are there because of MVCs, abnd many when the speed is high never make it out of the ED.

  46. When you dream about the medicine cart drawers opening and pills coming out attacking you mnuour sleep. Along with this patients are yelling “Nurse, Nurse”

    • Oh man! I dream about forgetting something at work, i hand peolple their knife handle first into their palm and am always checking out their viens!!! 😂😂😂

      • Good look on the arms of patients and someone in the hallway. I can stick in 14 gauge cannula into that vein. What a big beautiful vein !

  47. I worked Cardiac Intensive Care in a blue collar community. Not wanting to offend me, male patients would ask me if I was married to determine my preferences. I would answer “Yes, I’m married with three daughters and yes, I’m heterosexual.

    • I get that all the time. Married Retired Army Nurse here and I am the only male nurse in my entire little hospital. Also, I am the most experienced nurse with grey hair so all the patients and family assume I am the doctor or PA.

    • Not really any of their business, is it ? Life is far, far, too short to worry about a care giver’s ” preference,” is it not ? ANd, not that you asked, but my wife’s name is Nannette.

  48. You know you are a nurse when you get into an elevator with a stranger or are standing in line at the grocery store and they start talking to you about their gallbladder or other ailment asking for your opinion. I feel like I must have RN stamped to my forehead.

  49. You know you’re a nurse when you announce on facebook “I’m watching the Super Bowel”. Didn’t notifce the spelling mistake until several people mentioned it!

  50. Lynn, RN
    you know you’re a nurse When your teenage son, uses the bathroom and forgets to flush, and you notice that his urine is very concentrated and you tell him he needs to drink more water.
    Also doing head to toe eyeball assessment on every time you look at someone.

  51. When you can NEVER look at a full moon with anything but dread and if you are lucky to be off, you are glad, but wish the best for your co-workers.

    Also, your vocabulary doesn’t have the word “quiet” in it. And if you hear anyone using that word you give them a scowl that would frighten even the strongest of people, just because you know only bad things can follow the use of that word. (It’s known as the “Q” word around my house. Much worse than any other cuss word.)

    • I totally agree with both of those! Thanking God when the moon is full and I am not working and shhh someone when they use the “Q” word. Also, when people ask me how might night is going my answer is automatically “I will tell you as soon as I clock out in the morning”

      • I had a Resp Tech say “Boy this is a Quiet night”
        Everyone immediately threw something at him.
        We had three codes that night and every time one was called, he again had things thrown at him.

        But . . . he never again used that word.

    • When you can NEVER look at a full moon and immediately the hospital parking lot smells like amniotic fluid. You know that L and D will be full of non laboring moms whose bags of water have broken.

    • Worked in small, rural hospitals for 29 years. Whomever said the “Q” word first and then we got a trauma in the ER (practically before the word had been said), had to pay for pizza and delivery so we could finally eat lunch/dinner at 0200. If it was daytime business hours, they had to add in some triple and quad shot coffees from StarBucks.

  52. When you think about measuring everyone’s urine, even yours after not being able to pee for over 6 hours and figure “yeah, that’s got to be at least 900 ml.”

  53. That’s a common one! Most people dream that they get an “F” because they forgot to attend a class. I dream that a patient died because I forgot I had that critically ill patient down the hallway. I scoff at their panic!

    • My most frequent nightmare (besides the one about elevators) is that I have a critical patient who just CANNOT be controlled (e.g. pulling out ETT, lines etc.)!

    • Yes. I have that dream all the time. At the end of the shift I realize I had another patient that I never saw/assessed/gave meds on.

    • Years ago when our children were little we sat down as a family for dinner each evening, & talked about “our days”. I was working in an ER, & talked of some cases I cared for daily. Our #2 Son would act a little squimish sometimes. When he returned from being in War in Iraq 2005- 2006, he told me he was so thankful I talked of those cases in the ER years before because it helped him endure some of the scenes he encountered during War.

    • My friends who are also nurses and I discuss bloody traumas at the dinner table and forget others may not do well with the conversation. They sit there and turn white as a ghost. Normal talk for us! Lol!

  54. When your kids start crying and you ask, “Are you bleeding, dying or cant breath?” Then, it’s OK. Or, “if it’s broke, we can fix it!”

  55. You know your a nurse when you’ve diagnosed a complete stranger with heart disease diabetes and copd just by looking at them.

  56. When you are in the grocery store assessing people swollen legs and feet, then looking into their grocery cart to see the cause of the swollen lower extremites.

  57. You know your a nurse when you are in line at the grocery store and you find yourself scoping out the veins on the person in front of you!

  58. When my son was younger he had fallen off his bike. I found blood in the bathroom and questioned him. Yes he washed it. Applied antibacterial ointment wnd a bandaid. Whe wuestioned as to why he didn’t tell me , he stated “you only care if its spurting”.

    • What is good and almost always appropriate is that you don’t take yourself too seriously.
      Many physicians are wise enough not to take themselves too seriously, also.

  59. You know you are a nurse when your teenage daughter has bio class and starts talking about her latest dissection during Christmas dinner which upsets her Aunt but you are calmly sitting there eating and nodding your head to her descriptions.

  60. When you are out and about, you hear a loud cry, moan or “Ouch!” and your brain switches into CPR – Nurse to the rescue mode!

    When you use a bandaid to cover your computer’s webcam.

    • When I’m in a restaurant and I hear a cough/choke sound, I’m urgently scanning the room to see who I may need to SAVE!

  61. You know you are a nurse when people are constantly looking at you hands. And you know they are wondering why they are so ashy!

  62. You know you’re a nurse when you can rattle off the list of foods on a heart healthy diet like they are things you go to the store and get everyday for yourself!

  63. You know you are a nurse when you go to the store after work, forgetting that you had one of those days when you got just about any kind of mess on your scrubs. Everything smells okay to you, but everyone else is standing 10 feet from you – upwind.

  64. You know you are a nurse when you overhear someone giving incorrect medical advice to a friend in a store and you want to march right up there and correct them, even if it is a minor error. Improper treatment is not in your vocabulary! Also when you do a mini-psych eval on people at the supermarket!

  65. That after being out of direct patient care for over 20 years you still have dreams (or nightmares) about having ALL the patients on the unit while hanging leaking IV bags, cleaning up bodily fluids, providing medications, putting out fires, having a full bladder AND being way behind schedule.

  66. You know you are a nurse, when 20 years later you have nightmares of the biggest fear of most nurses that you dreamed you went home with the narcotic keys.

  67. You know you are nurse when you meet a patient in the grocery store and they tell you that thier legs are swollen and you immediatley drop to the floor pull up thier pant leg and check without even thinking about it. Actually have done it and the patient didn’t find it strange either 🙂

  68. I know I am a nurse when I realize that I have gone an entire day without going to the bathroom. When working in the hospital, your bladder gets stretched since you never have time to pee, but this is convenient for your later life.
    Also-a funny one-my husband was a hospital chaplin and one Sunday he saw a patient he had visited the week prior at our church. He said to her, with other people listening, “Oh, this is what you look like with your clothes on”. Stunned silence followed. The woman and I were mortified, then laughed once it was explained.

  69. You know you are a nurse when you can take a 5 minute power nap while sitting on the toilet and feel completely refresh afterwards

    • That is me. About to start my double shift, had short break and power napped for 15 minutes, all refreshed

  70. What about the reoccurring nightmare that you have slept through your whole shift and wake up in time for shift report and you have not gone in any patient rooms or given any meds!!!.I have had this for years!!! I am always so glad to wake up and find its just a nightmare??

  71. When u r 7 yrs retired and still say I’m a nurse. When family,friends and acquaintances still always ask you first when they have a medical question. And when you still take continuing education courses to keep up with the latest so your answers are right?‍⚕️

  72. When you look at people at a social event and admire their veins and think about how easy it would be to start an IV or draw blood.

    • And if you are allowed to talk about bodiy functions, then you know that you are not the only nurrse at the table or in your family.

  73. You know you’re a nurse when you gather all your supplies (read:ingredients) when you’re going to cook and you open EVERYTHING using sterile technique!!

  74. You know you’re a nurse when you catch yourself checking stranger’s lower extremities for edema and cellulitis everywhere you go.

  75. when you see a co-worker not in scrubs you say, “that’s what you look like with regular clothes on LOL.”

  76. When you’re excited to share new medical discoveries especially about wounds and how they can be managed & healed more aggressively, it grosses everyone else out at the table that’s not it in the medical field. But you are on cloud 9 for your pattints to use it/them on.

  77. You look at people out in public and begin to sum up what their diagnoses are! We were out playing poker one night and there was a hateful man at our table, I was heads up against him in a hand, my husband whispers to me “you need to take him out” I whisper back “I can’t he is a dying man”, my husband later ask what on earth I was talking about “he was a dying man”? I explained “well he has yellow in the whites of his eyes, skinny limbs, large belly, leathered skin with a yellow grey tint, and I have never seen him sober, ever! Pretty sure he is dying of liver failure. My husband just blinked. I think he thinks I am weird, fellow nurses will get it, we are used to summing up potentials on patients with just our visual cues.

  78. checking out peoples veins while waiting to check out at the grocery store. BTW my husband hates when I do that….it grosses him out

  79. You know you’re a nurse when you wash your hands in a public toilet grab a napkin leaving the water running while the lady next to you looking at you wasting water because you turn off the faucet with same napkin.

    • Cheryl

      You know you are a nurse when you are changing a dressing and realize that the wound is covered with maggots and the first words out of my mouth are “great they are gonna clean that baby right up” !!


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