Having A Nurse As A Patient

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by SkyDancer77 SkyDancer77 (New) New Nurse

Specializes in PCU. Has 5 years experience.

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742 Posts

Just take what they claim to be and bring it down a notch. "I used to be a nurse" in reality was a CNA.  "I used to be a CNA" in reality a PCT. "I used to work with a lot of patients" in reality a "home health nurse". "I used to be home health nurse" in reality a friend hired you to take care of their grandparent with dementia.

Hannahbanana, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB. Has 52 years experience. 1,187 Posts

Just had a second opinion for ?of some ortho work on an arthritic knee that abruptly deteriorated when its sister had to rehab, appt scheduled long ago but luckily (???) had an acute exacerbation and ended up in severe pain so I appeared at the office in a wheelchair with a walker.
The doc, chair of arthroplasty, saw a fat old broad using a wc and asked about my history. I told him I’d done well with the TKR in the other knee only 3 1/2 months before, which he was surprised to see was true. (PT gave me an A for progress!) I said I hadn’t been in a wc since the day I left the hospital postop, and hadn’t used a walker since 2 weeks postop or a cane for more than a month. Mild polite skepticism on the part of the resident.

Then I told the attending I’d been in this building a hundred times as a case manager. “You’re a case manager?” Yep. OK then. And after that his whole approach changed. Not that it was bad to begin with, but he started to discuss things with me like a knowledgeable colleague. Sometimes although we can be assumed to be threatening, we can really be colleagues in our own care. 


BeatsPerMinute, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 8 years experience. 319 Posts

It's hard not to get intimidated. I still get that nervous feeling at times. So far haven't had any terrible experiences, though. 

I've taken care of people who were in school for something medical related. I've taken care of co-workers, nurses, mid-levels, EMS personnel (young, elderly, and those somewhere in between). I've taken care of patients that were related to the hospital's top leaders. I've taken care of patients who had family members in the medical field, watching my every move. I've taken care of doctors' wives. 

My thoughts & what's worked well for me: Listen. Listen and be curious. Hear them out. Ask questions. Allow them to share their experiences, stories, lessons, knowledge. Again, just be curious! You can learn alot from them, actually. Shows confidence too (like you're not going to "shaken up" knowing that your patient or their family members are in the medical field and it's not going to affect the care you give). Taking a humble approach works well. 

I love my retired nurse patients; they have so many stories! One time while working in IR, I had a patient who graduated from nursing school in the late 50s. She was both super frank and funny. I was the circulator during the case and she was on light/moderate sedation. Midway through the procedure she was asking about how things were going. I asked her if she was in any pain , feeling anxious, had any concerns, etc. Her reply "No... I'm just bored." 

It was interesting listening to her, and how things have changed over the years. I learned a lot from this woman. 

Edited by BeatsPerMinute
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JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 41 years experience. 1 Article; 3,836 Posts

Can't always hide that you are a nurse when being a patient; especially in a small-ish city with one hospital (at the time) and half your nurses were either on strike with you or former students of yours.  

I've told the story before, but since I wasn't on the oncology floor, most of the nurses were't sure about getting my morning labs off my central line; I ended up giving inservices on how to do it..... nothing like a bit of sepsis to bring us all together, LOL.

Hannahbanana, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB. Has 52 years experience. 1,187 Posts

I had a wee bit of pretty exciting medical malpractice keep me in the hospital for ten days after my first childbirth. It was early Summer and all the new grads were anxious about NCLEX. They were really eager to talk shop c me, a hotshot critical care nurse, but at the time my brain was elsewhere and I couldn’t remember whether atropine made your heart go faster or slower, and gave up trying (it came back later, LOL). 

However, one day my nurse was deeply confused about the idea of peak and trough antibiotic levels, when to draw them, and what to do if for some reason my trough get drawn late. So I told her what to do. She looked dubious but went out and asked somebody else. She came back and said, ”You were right!” and I said, “I know.”

I also got to advocate for my fellow parturient women by pointing out that since I had a pretty impressive draining wound in my episiotomy, perhaps I shouldn’t be sharing a single toilet bathroom with seven other women in adjacent 4-bed wards. Oh, yeah … 

Every now and then we remember why teaching was something they pounded into us in nursing school. You just never know. 



742 Posts

Got floated to ER. This RN from a sister hospital came in juiced up with vomit stains all over them. ER doc told the nurse "you just had a little too much to drink". Nurse was not having it protesting "I'M DIABETIC!". Doc was like "not according to your lab results".

Nurse left ranting that they will NEVER come to our ER again!

I assume that means they will get juiced at a bar close to their hospital.

Hannahbanana, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB. Has 52 years experience. 1,187 Posts

As I said, over the last few years I’ve seen entirely too much of the inside of hospitals between my own crappy knees and my DH’s DVT/PE episode. Sometimes I don’t tell them I’m a nurse right away, until after I get a sense of their style, pt teaching, and whatnot.

Sometimes my being a nurse scares them away, usually the really new nurses who might feel I’m going to judge them and find them lacking. Nothing could be farther from the truth~~ on the theory of “once a nurse, always a nurse” even though we’re patients and have to do all that, we can still teach the young ‘uns a thing or two, and like doing it. And also, no matter what the pt “is,” they’re still there because they *need* nursing care, so don’t leave anybody to fend for themselves. 

Older ones are either likely to figure they need to spend less time c me, because I know what to do and expect (Earth to nurse: I did largely OHS and transplant; all I knew about knees are …mine suck).  Or they want to talk shop, which is fine, because I feel good about revealing my ignorance about their specialty, and they feel good about using our shared language for teaching me. And I make sure to recognize their challenges and thank them, regardless. Win-win. 


Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 25 years experience. 20,958 Posts

The patients that made me nervous most were lawyers, actually. Not RNs or MDs.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience. 142 Articles; 9,974 Posts

On 11/12/2020 at 6:48 PM, amoLucia said:

In the past 2 yrs, I've had 3 hospitalizations with 1 rehab/snf  stay. I was BAD SICK the first time, so I know I wasn't the best pt.

But what made the difference for me the last 2 times, was that the nsg staff listened to me - for the person I was, an experienced, retired NURSE.

Sadly, it's almost impossible to 'turn off' the nurse mentality while hospitalized. But just LISTEN TO ME when I know something is wrong for me (and my roomies). Just LISTEN TO ME as amoLucia, the nurse, when I talk to you about amoLucia, the pt. Like we would if we were giving report to one another.

THAT made the difference at the last 2 hospitalizations.

I was recently in the hospital for a saddle PE and was treated extremely well, at least partly because I am a retired nurse. They appreciated  my nursing stories and told me some of theirs. I was on a stepdown unit so there was one nurse for every 3-4 patients, so staffing was very good and they almost always answered my call light within a couple of minutes. I wasn’t allowed OOB without assistance to the bedside commode when I was on heparin, and I still required SBA when I finally got to go to the actual bathroom, right up until my discharge. They had a bed alarm on me for the first day or so but d/c’d it when I proved to be reliable in waiting for staff to get me up. 

So I gave the hospital very high grades on the survey; even dietary was excellent and the food was surprisingly good (the salmon and the  street tacos were to die for!). 😊