Is It Just Me?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

As a nurse – heck maybe for everyone, I spend the majority of my time at work. I have my life outside of work and.. uh…work.

My days of the week are sort of blurred due to working weekends, nights, holidays, etc. I mean, other members of the workforce who get to work the Monday through Friday job can definitely tell when the weekend is approaching simply because they are ‘not’ working – heh heh.

Me and A LOT of nurses out there have to either look at the ‘work’ schedule or refer to the calendar to figure out what day of the week it is! What time of the day it is! What month, etc!

No – I’m not making this up. (Ask anyone who works shift-work).

So why is it when I’m NOT at work – work follows me home?

Let me explain. I find myself at home, or maybe not even physically home. I could be out shopping, running errands, at the gym, going out to eat, etc. I’m physically not at work – but my mind and my body are still at work. Somehow the ‘reflexes’ you have at work don’t know how to shut off.

Is It Just Me?

  Why do I hear the EKG monitor alarms when I’m home?

  Why do I hear other ‘work’ noises when things are quiet in my environment? – and why do I look around to turn off the alarm???

  Why do I hear the call bell ringing when I’m watching TV?

  Why do I have to remind myself not to answer my house phone the way I answer the phone at work? (and I do this as the phone is at my ear)

  Why do I eat my food at ‘light-speed’ and ‘vacuum’ in my meal – thinking I have no time to sit and eat?

  Why do I walk at a running pace when walking through the store?

  Why do I ‘eyeball’ a nice looking pen someone is using – trying to figure out a way to get me one?

  Why do I still write a note on the back of my hand -when there is clearly some paper I could be using?

  Why do I lean down and always seem to put my hand by my chest securing my stethoscope – that isn’t there?

  Why do I try and guesstimate how much volume I urinate? (Was that at least 30cc’s?)

> Why do I scoff at all the un-real Hollywood medicine antics I see on TV (Yeah- Like THAT would happen)?

Is it just me?? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. Love this conversation!
    I am in my 50’s and so much rings true…1) Stand-up when eating-often nibble on snacks vs. sit down for a meal 2) Just at a high school volleyball game-the alarm sounded to start the game and it sounded like one of emergency alarms when we called a “cardiac arrest” -I wanted to run! 3) Phantom stethoscope-off duty think it’s on my neck 4) My sister is a nurse too and when we took a car ride recently that was quite long-we both discussed bathroom breaks with great precision, well like nurses on shift work! 5)
    Out in public places, particularly grocery store, find myself assessing people’s gait or conditions-particularly elderly-would sometimes go down a different aisle as did not want to be responsible if one of them goes down! 6)
    I think in medicine-someone says
    there was a seizure (of goods)-I think convulsions; want to call highway guardrails …siderails 7) We still have an old-fashioned landline and answering machine and when the phone rings-i still let it “go to the machine” even though I do not pick up shifts any more! 8) Always have shoe polish available-not just white! 9)
    Yes, when we still had notes on paper and off-shift wrote my name did sign (particularly credit card slips) with RN
    10). Sometimes answered my home phone-“Hello this is Gale how may I help you?”
    11) Yes, alarm clocks and dreams infiltrated with
    thoughts of date, time etc. did I miss work, what day is it, did I miss my med pass 22) Anytime, anywhere, if someone yells , “I need help”!

  2. Obviously you’re not alone but there is a cure. I taught myself to do my very best while on the floor and leaving it all behind as I walk out at the end of the shift. It takes practise but it’s doable. It’s that or burn out I guarantee. BTW it’s one of the first things I teach new grads.

  3. Nursing does have very low salary today, half your work shift is your pay for the day, but the other half is ongoing humanitarian act of care, kindness and good.

    My perception is some families and friends are not sure about the nursing care needs that we give to the sick and the dying, it’s unconditional love ❤️, love all the time. Love for human beings ❤️

  4. It seems like our brains are “re-wired” permanently from working as nurses. I often am “awakened” in the morning to the sound of call lights…and when I am sleeping, I am at work (dreaming). And, they are stressful dreams. I had one where the Code alarm was going off, and I grabbed the Code cart and am running around the halls unable to find the room…the floor was literally a maze.

  5. These things happen because nursing isn’t a “job.” It’s a career. For me, it’s a calling. I’m sure it’s the same for anyone else who loves their high-stress job to be stuck to it on off hours. We spend a large amount of time, money, and effort to pursue our various nursing specializations; it’s no wonder work follows us home.

  6. My Dad was in hospice and I would travel home to help my mom every weekend. I found her notebook with notes about Dad….”charting’ all of the activity. She was a nurse for 40 years and had been retired at least 12 years at the time…it never leaves you.

  7. Jean…while I worked the night shift, I would dream I was at work. Some drreams were very strange. In one I could not fine my patient. I spent my whole sleep time looking. Finally found the patient in a bazaar unit in the hospital where they were kept on life support (just like an old movie, can’t remember the name.) Then I woke up and felt I never slept!
    Even now, after I have not worked in a hospital for several years, I sometimes hear the call light. I also find fault with TV shows depicting hospital scenes, all nurses and doctors are very good looking and never tire!

  8. Jean…while I worked the night shift, I would dream I was at work. Some drreams were very strange. In one I could not fine my patient. I spent my whole sleep time looking. Finally found the patient in a bazaar unit in the hospital where they were kept on life support (just like an old movie, can’t remember the name.) Then I woke up and felt I never slept!
    Even now, after I have not worked in a hospital, I sometimes hear the call light. I also find fault with TV shows depicting hospital scenes, all nurses and doctors are very good looking and never tire!

  9. Shift work- It took me a long time for my family to understand when to have a holiday meal based on my shift. Hear other nurses say the same. The best times were when we had the holiday meal at our house at 12noon and then my husband (also a nurse) would go to work for the 3-11 shift. When we came home my mom and sisters would have everything done and put away! What a family. You are also correct about “what day is this”. Still we keep on working

  10. Wow. This could not have come at a better time. I LOVE my job! I give 125%. As almost all nurses do. We do not go in for the money it’s because we care and are nurturing people. Nurses cannot even have the time as their patient nurse ratio or time is not even close. They cannot get patients meds on time let alone read a few sentences from the Bible or book of the patients choice or tell a funny story.

    Eating ? That’s not in my dictionary. Rt restroom? Barely go and if I need to wish I had a Foley. Lol. Soooo many stories good bad challenging and real. Bless us all. We are some of the strongest people in the world. We do deserve better circumstances. So much more I could say but all of us reading this get it! Hang tough. But take care if yourself. Lol I say that as I’m talking to myself. GO NURSES! It’s not just any of you!

  11. If only those who have the power and the access to the financial resources would read the above, acknowledge the incredible value – as well as the unnatural expectation (do you think any of them have anything close to this reality in their lives??)- that we have dedicated our lives to- would in some small way say BY GOD THESE NURSES DESERVE FAR MORE THAN THEY ARE GETTING!!!! FINANCIALLY! TIME OFF! ANYTHING!! How freaking wonderful would that be. I have dreams. They are unrealistic, but I have dreams. After 40 years in the field, I THANK YOU ALL! We all need you. We appreciate you. And some day we will all need the nurse you have chosen to be. Thank you.

  12. I agree with everything posted to the 10th degree. Now 29 yrs in my career I have began to cut back and look toward other things I’ve always wanted to do. However when out eating if someone cough too long I listen intently to see if I may need to assist or just the other day a man was with a cane was getting slowly into his car and I wasn’t able to pass without offering my assistance. Once you’re fully committed as a nurse with compassion it’s with you forever!!!!

  13. OMG , I am so happy reading this,…. Sometimes you think “is it just me?” I loved Jon’s comment about the veins, I still do that…I left “floor” nursing about 5 years ago, (after 20 years) and now work from home for an insurance company. I still eat at lightening speed, I have to catch myself when answering my mobile phone…Now my struggle is weight gain (sitting).. My husband bought me a stand sit desk. And aches and pains from sitting and typing. I think we will always carry those traits with us. Lolo this made me laugh thank you.

  14. This nurse gets it. That’s exactly like it was for me for 26 years. I have retired now and have lived like that especially about the racing to finish a meal. Thanks to all the nurses who can still do it. God bless.

  15. After 41 years of hospital paced nursing,I have been retired just over a month now. Surprisingly I have been able to let go and adjust better than I thought I would. I’m definitely taking better care of my body. It’s something to look forward to.

  16. Definitely relate to not knowing what day of the week it is or sometimes that it’s a holiday. Worry about patients or work on days off. Love my work but after 30 plus years as an LPN floor nurse, definitely looking forward to slowing down .

  17. This has been going on for a long time! My mother who was a nurse from 1955 until 1990 used to hear the IV pumps beeping. As a child I didn’t believe her, but as a nurse now, the same thing happens to me.

  18. On first date with now wife, looked at veins and prayed I would never have to draw blood or start iv. Sixteen years later had to because hospital staff couldn’t get veins.

  19. Nurses have the largest bladder of any species. If you wait the sensation to “go” will leave you. I have gone 14 hrs w/o voiding. I am sure thats not a record. I was in a very long OR case once and the sugeon couldn’t leave. He peed wher he sttd and didn’t miss a beat. We are so bad to ourselves. I too have yelled its Okay when the oven timer went off.

  20. You’re not the only one. Yes, i too have to consciously eat slow when I’m not at work. We have a multitasking super efficiency syndrome that follows us when we go home. It’s a work mentality that is essential at work but when we can’t turn it off, it may have long standing negative effects for us. Maybe that’s why people who work hard play hard. In my younger nursing days, I thrived in it. Now after 17 yrs in health care, I’m stepping back to have more of my life outside work. Activities that quiet the mind are helpful but it’s definitely a conscious effort. Relaxation for nurses don’t come naturally after years of working as one. I think the fact that most of us recognize it, is a good start.
    Being a nurse is only one aspect of our person. We are so much more, the “nurse” in us has to step back to allow our other selves to grow & develop.

  21. Nurses often don’t get to go to the bathroom when they have to go. Why is it when I put the key in my front door that I suddenly have the urgency to void when my mind knows that now I can?

    • This is so True!!!! 45 years a nurse and still working part-time in chart reviews. Hoping to retire but as we know, nurses don’t make huge money and some have pensions but its still not enough usually. As an older nurse and to me personally, it is a calling. The gift to nurture others and have the desire to help the sick is not a common trait. As with most female based professions, nursing is low wages and low concern for the hurdles that women must breech to be a nurse and a mother and wife. The worst and most damaging thing to happen to nursing in the hospital setting and clinics is 12 hour shifts. It horrible for patients, the health of caretakers/nurses and families. Nurses must stand up for their right of life balance in the workplace. Its way over time.


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