How does one deal with the smells?

  1. I am applying to nursing school and I have what I call a sensitive nose. I am a little worried about how to handle the various "aromas" that are associated with nursing. Any suggestions on this topic?
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    They are all different....some get to me more than others. Often, I think of ANYthing BUT the "odor" involved in nursing care. That was what got me thru school and stage IV pressure ulcers, unwashed bodies, GI bleed odors and many others......Sometimes, I would put carmex or camphor lip balm just inside my nares to distract me and breathed thru my mouth in the worst cases. It is indeed hard to smile when the smell is so unpleasant; you just do your best.
  4. by   cactus wren
    We keep a bottle of Vicksrub in our med room for those smells.....just a dab in nares will help. And honestly, after a year or two or three they won`t impact you so much.Ain`t it great what our poor bodies can grow accustomed to ?
  5. by   Love-A-Nurse
    first, let me say, welcome to the board and congratulations on contemplating nursing school. the thing that gets me most is sputum. no matter the smell, i try very hard not to show it with facial expression while in the presence of patient and family members.

    having said that, i think it is safe to say, there will nearly always be something that someone in nursing can't "take" and each deals with it individually.

    all the best to you.
  6. by   DIPLOMATICRN4HIRE
    LOL By the time you figure out a smell you have thought of atleast 12 Nursing Diagnosis for them, the smells can be your friend , and your worst enemy... but they are a clue as to what is going on... Keep altoids in your pocket and they will help detur what you may smell... other than that you get used to them.
    zoe
  7. by   Love-A-Nurse
    originally posted by itsjustmezoe
    lol by the time you figure out a smell you have thought of atleast 12 nursing diagnosis for them, the smells can be your friend , and your worst enemy... but they are a clue as to what is going on... keep altoids in your pocket and they will help detur what you may smell... other than that you get used to them.
    zoe
    hummm, this is why it is good to pay attention and have different opinions and prespectives because there just may be another answer that another may not think of while they are posting. thanks for your post, zoe
  8. by   Nurse Ratched
    Oddly, I don't notice the smells so much - just when, like Zoe says, you *trying* to notice for "diagnostic" purposes. After a while, you won't need any lab culture to tell you it's c-diff or e.coli .
  9. by   RN-PA
    Originally posted by ITSJUSTMEZOE
    LOL By the time you figure out a smell you have thought of at least 12 Nursing Diagnosis for them, the smells can be your friend , and your worst enemy... but they are a clue as to what is going on...
    You're RIGHT, Zoe! I remember learning that in nursing school and thinking to myself, "Ohmigosh-- I thought I could get through my entire nursing career by breathing through my mouth and NEVER smelling anything potentially gag-worthy or disgusting!"

    I still often breathe through my mouth and find it works best for me in certain situations, although sometimes afterward, I feel like I have a bad taste in my mouth... :stone

    Also, for patients with odor problems (colostomy, GI bleed, etc.), I order air fresheners from central supply dept. that come in a small non-aeresol spray and a jar with liquid air freshener with a wick that scents the room nicely-- Great for those semi-private rooms!

    I was worried about many sights, smells, and bodily functions before I went to nursing school and was thankful to discover that compassion, more often than not, kicked in, and all I generally thought about when there was a bad odor or other unpleasantness, was the need to help the patient.
  10. by   UKRNinUSA
    don't breathe thru your nose - somehow I am able to block of my nose but I can't quite explain how- it's like when you talk thru your nose -that's how I do it every morning after my husband's been in the bathroom
  11. by   RN-PA
    Originally posted by UKRNinUSA
    don't breathe thru your nose - somehow I am able to block of my nose but I can't quite explain how- it's like when you talk thru your nose -that's how I do it every morning after my husband's been in the bathroom


    I just about spewed Diet Coke all over my keyboard! I cannot believe you said that because I was THINKING the *EXACT* same thing!!! *THAT'S* where I got to practice breathing through my mouth! :roll
  12. by   sjoe
    RN-PA, oh, you know UKRNinUSA's husband? What a coincidence.
  13. by   RNFROG3
    You guys are killing me--why do husbands have such bad ones when I know they didn't smell like that before we were married.
    Oil of clove on a cottn ball in your bra or on the counter of the room really helps.
  14. by   mario_ragucci
    You can look at it from an evolutionary point of view. These modern medical aromas are pretty recent in our human recognitions. These various smells evoke danger and disgust because, if we smelt them, say, 200 or 2000 years ago, they would be warning us of danger, ie. a very sick person/an open body. C-diff, BM, blood, coughing and wheezing...all this, I feel, automatically sends you into a low-level fight or flight response. Were supposed to think these smells are awful.
    The worst for me was when i had to clean a gastric-ostomy bag, in CNA school. No way in heck are we supposed to be smelling the undigested parts of any persons eaten food. That smell is very strong, and anyone would physically show signs of distress. It's normal.
    Keep your olfactory perception in check, understanding what it is you are smelling, and you frontal cortex will grow sweeter as time goes by. My best of luck to you. It's your perception :-)

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