Just Another Day in Paradise | Life of a Nurse

What are the disadvantages in working at a nursing home?

Working weekends in a nursing home with the same cast of characters has its disadvantages, but also its charms. Like noshing on the donuts a staff member has hidden in the med room....wearing jeans to work.....and hanging out with some of the coolest people on the planet! *All names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty alike.*


  • Long Term Care Columnist / Guide
    Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.
What are the disadvantages in working at a nursing home?

It's Saturday morning at Paradise Nursing and Rehabilitation Center*, and I've just arrived on the floor to pass the 0900 meds. Spying my cart, I can see that Mac has already been there, for once again there is a carefully arranged "house of cards" made of med cups, spoons, and straws on top of it. It's the CNA's way of greeting me in the morning. Pretty soon, Mac himself shows up and gives me a great big hug right in the middle of the hallway, and my day begins.

Candie, the treatment nurse, is another character who can make me spit nails or spew coffee across the nurses' station, depending on whether she wants to whine (she's worked here for 20 years) or make jokes about life and other matters of consequence. Her sense of humor is every bit as warped as mine, and I treasure those days when she is dead-on with her spicy observations: "Hey Viva, I saw a great license plate this morning---the plate read '123 XSX'. You know what that sounds like? Excess sex!" She pauses, then looks at me quizzically. "You mean there is such a thing?"

There are also a number of assorted CNAs and nurses with interesting stories. Several of the aides are in nursing school, and it's a hoot to listen to them talk about their clinicals during their breaks. It always reminds me of my own halcyon days, when my classmates and I used to take over the small cafeteria and run off the other students who didn't care for our descriptions of GI bleeds and flesh-eating bacteria.

Today, it's Nala's turn to discuss the finer points of NG tube insertion. She is a CMA who works strictly weekends and is in the last year of her nursing program, and she is really getting graphic with the details as we nosh on Krispy Kremes in the lunchroom.

"Hey, I'm eating here," says the new maintenance man, who by his greenish tint has obviously never worked in a healthcare facility before.

"So am I," says Nala, holding up her donut.

He'll get used to it. He's really a good sort, just a little young and very, VERY naive about the way things work in Paradise. (Or any nursing home, for that matter.)

Back on the floor, whose voice should I hear but that of our dearly beloved Director of Nursing Services! Katie---or Mama K, as she's known to the younger set---is a dynamic woman with a bubbly personality......but she is anything but a pushover. I've seen her go toe-to-toe with our administrator, and she usually wins! But, it just so happens that several staff members are wearing jeans on a day that is neither Friday nor payday, and so I try to sneak around the corner where my well-worn, comfy Wranglers won't be seen.

But it's too late: "VIVA!!" she calls down the hallway. "How ARE you, sweetie? Come here and talk to me for a little bit." And then I notice what she's wearing......a pair of jeans with boots and a T-shirt. I'm not in trouble. She's just been worried about me because I've been a tad unwell, and she wants to know if there's anything I need---some time off, perhaps, or a referral to EAP.

I refuse both politely, thinking for possibly the 574th time how awesome it is to have a boss who cares about me as an individual, while at the same time wondering how on earth I am going to tell this woman that I might be leaving soon. I'm headed to my second round of interviews for a state surveyor position, and right now the chances are looking really good. Of course, I'm not going to say anything NOW, but there is more than a pang of regret at even the thought of leaving this place where I feel safe, where I fit in, and where they know I'm crazy but love me anyway.

Now it's time to pass the 1200s, but......where the heck is my med cart? It's not in the hall where I left it. Nor is it in the med room or any of the residents' rooms. Then suddenly, here comes Mac, riding on the side of the cart as he scoots it back around the corner from the little alcove where he'd hidden it. Darn that kid!! But I can't get too mad at him, because if he flips that thing it's going to be his job to explain the incident to the DNS while the rest of us laugh our fool heads off.

Yep, it's just another day in Paradise, where the aides and the nurses can play, and (rarely) is heard a discouraging word. ?

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

I'm a Registered Nurse and writer who, in better times, has enjoyed a busy and varied career which includes stints as a Med/Surg floor nurse, a director of nursing, a nurse consultant, and an assistant administrator. And when I'm not working as a nurse, I'm writing about nursing right here at allnurses.com and putting together the chapters for a future book about---what else?---nursing.

142 Articles   9,981 Posts

Share this post


87 Posts

Specializes in neuro/med surg, acute rehab. Has 5 years experience.

Love it. I work with some great people, too - some real characters. It's the only thing that keeps me sane most days. Good luck on the new job possibility!

Specializes in Hospice.

Work is so much better when you like who you work with and can have a little fun in the process.

BSNbeauty, BSN, RN

1 Article; 1,939 Posts

I loved this story. Reminds me of my days at work sometimes. Praying that you get the job Viva!!


223 Posts

Specializes in LTC. Has 22 years experience.

love it~ worked the weekend too and it was crazy!! But love it! Best of luck on the new job prospect!!

Specializes in medical surgical. Has 5 years experience.

I love it when I am in an environment like this. Life is too short for a nasty place to work!!!

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

You can say THAT again! I've worked in some pretty nasty ones myself, which is why I appreciate this place so much. If the other job doesn't pan out for some reason, I'm sticking with this one till I can't do it anymore. :)

Specializes in Gerontology RN-BC and FNP MSN student. Has 23 years experience.

I love my current job too!

I love this post :) there is nothing better than wonderful coworkers.


7 Posts

What A beautiful piece Viva.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

Update: I have decided not to take the other job. I'd only be going back to the 50+ hours a week grind, plus there would be a lot of loooong hours traveling and working nights......all things I definitely DO NOT need. It was worth taking a look at, but I think I'll just stick around Paradise. :)


1 Article; 1,101 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Rehab. Has 5 years experience.

Nice piece. My LTC facility isn't that fun/cool, but there ARE a bunch of good people there - just a few jerks, including (unfortunately) my new immediate boss, but even she isn't all bad. But yeah, as I saw in another post on here about someone 'stuck' (or so they thought) in a LTC facility, others warned them that hospital work isn't necessarily better, more rewarding, whatever. I thought I'd be working in a hospital, and still want to try it, but at the same time, I think I'd miss some of my residents, co-workers, and - although we work hard every day, believe me - the slightly less serious/corporatized atmosphere of so many hospitals. I'm going to be moving after a while anyway, so I'll be leaving the place regardless, but still ... hard to know what to do sometimes.