Laughin’ To Keep From Cryin’: How Humor Keeps Nurses Sane

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

“If you don’t have a sense of humor, you’ll never survive this line of work.” It’s hard to think of a more true description of a nursing career, and we wanted to know how you incorporate that humor into your own day-to-day activities. We asked you and your fellow nurses how you include humor in your work life. As you’d expect, we got some great answers!

Check out some of the ones that made us smile, and then add your own stories in the comments below!

“Nursing is one of those professions where you have to laugh and have a sense of humor or else you won’t make it!!!”

– Laurie Martin Hill

“I had an older gentleman that took his son’s bullmastiff for a walk and got knocked down. Pretty bad, fractured hip and all bruised up. His son was pretty upset. ER notes said the dog’s name was Bella. I finished my assessment and said, ‘So I understand you got beat up by a girl?’ He blinked at me, ‘My son’s dog, she’s a big one.’ I replied, ‘No wonder she beat you up…you never call a girl big!!!’ He laughed. His family laughed. It took the tension right out of the room.”

– Jodi Miller

“I love doing the strength assessment. ‘Can you grip my hands?! Ok, now press your hands down on mine, now press up on my hands. Ok, now pull my finger…’ LOL they look at me like, what? And I go…’Aahh, gotcha!’ The men laugh a lot at that one.”

– Cindy Starnes

“I had an elderly patient years ago that loved to pat my ‘baby bump’ (I was about seven months pregnant with my youngest daughter). One day she asked me, ‘Do you have any other children?’ I told her yes, I had a 7-year-old daughter. She said, ‘Oh, my! You waited a long time between babies!’ I replied, ‘No, I waited a long time between husbands!’ She laughed so much I had to turn her O2 up a liter! After that, she’d tell anyone in the room about it whenever I came in. She was such a doll!”

– Christy Dillon Goerbig

“How often have we gone for a night out, ended up at a restaurant and talking about events at work only to notice people on another table now looking decidedly queasy!”

– Nick Peters

“No wonder everyone think I am crazy, because I make fun of everything in my life. Being a nurse for 40 years has taught me well. It is rewarding to see smiles on people’s faces.”

– Irma Gosine

“I’m an Alzheimer’s nurse, which can be heartbreaking if you can’t see the humor. I love all my patients but they are an endless source of entertainment as well!”

– Debra Hyden Hayes Godby

“I asked a stage 4 cancer patient if he wanted his IV fluids shaken or stirred, or if he wanted the bag with salt on the rim. He went from being teary-eyed to laughing. That’s when I really love being a nurse.”

– Mary Doss

“I worked for the local non-profit hospice for 22 years.The general public would have committed us all to the looney bin if they had heard any one of our team meetings. Humor kept us sane!!!”

– Bonnie Kick

Your turn! Share how you add humor to your day in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. Working as an RN in an Infusion Clinic, patients receive various blood products. I had an older male cancer patient, well known to our clinic staff, who was in that day for a platelet infusion. He was a devout Washington Redskins fan. As for me, I’m a frequent platelet donor at the Red Cross and had made a donation the day prior. I am a religious New England Patriots fan. When I see his name on the schedule, I come to work covered head to foot in NE Patriots clothing and accessories. I even decorate his bed space with NE Patriots merchandise. This patient would always show up in all his Redskins garb!! I even purchased Solo cups with NE logo for his drinks!
    When the giant bag of platelets arrived, I reminded him that I had donated platelets yesterday. Then I said “and if these are my platelets in this bag we’re giving to you, you WILL convert to a NE Patriots fan!”. He jokingly said “no, no! Stop the infusion! I can’t do it! Call my doctor!!”
    He, along with his wife and our staff had a great laugh!

  2. Years ago I was taking care of a patient in a Tertiary center for difficult pregnancies. I had a woman who was carrying twins and was on complete bed rest. One day, the stain came to be too much for her and she was crying so hard. I asked what was the matter and her response was “How did I get HERE?” I responded very quickly, “You took seriously what he poked at you in fun!”. She did not cry from that moment on. Humor can aid in most any situation.

  3. When patients asked for a glass of water, I would ask them if they wanted regular or diet. Oh my, I would get some very puzzled looks, just before I got the big smile. It’s the little things that make a big difference. I strived to make at least one patient laugh every shift I worked in the ED.


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