Nurses and their sense of humour


I am curious if anyone has any insight into the type of humour that seems to exist among nurses. We have had a number of discussions at work and there seems to be quite a variety of opinions about nurses and their sense of humour. Some of my co workers see the humour as being too black and negative, others feel that it is unique to nursing and is just a way of "blowing off steam" in a stressful work environment.

An example that I can think of is one nurse whose daughter had a pet hamster she got for Christmas named Noel. At easter, the pet became ill and died. Her daughter wanted to put the animal under a lamp to keep it warm and insisted that it would be okay the next morning. The mom, knowing very well the hamster was deceased, could only think that if the hamster was alive the next morning, then her daughter would have to rename her pet Jesus as he was the only one she knew who came back from the dead. I found this to be funny but some people did not.

Another example I can think of is when the ward is full and the charge nurse gets a phone call from admitting to see if there might be any discharges because the ER is full and they need a bed. Her response to admitting is that the only discharge that may occur would be a "celestial" discharge and as to when that might be, admitting had better consult some higher authority. I thought that this was an honest and humourous response but some did not.

Feel free to provide some feedback:)

Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

At first I was going to ask "Nurses have a sense of humor?" but I would have been joking. :)

Yes, we do have odd senses of humor, but I think anyone in high stress occupations do when talking amongst themselves. It is a way to blow off steam and relieve some of the pressure in the workplace. Some people may be using "black" humor, some may be using sexual humor, some may be quirky humor--and then there are those that have no humor at all (it sounds as though you work with a few of those!). The important thing is to use the humor in such a way that it does not harm or degrade anyone.

The 2 examples you gave did not offend or bother me, but I could see how the first one might offend a very devout person.


118 Posts

The humour nurses use is often black and sometimes a little risque however it is the one way we have learned to cope with some pretty horible stuff.

I suppose the hamster might have name Lazarus ,but then you would have to have waited 4 days instead of 3.

I think it's one extreme or the other. Either a twisted sense or no sense at all. I hate when I work with those folks! It's a long, dull night.


40 Posts

I think the fact that we see some incredible things (we do, don't we?!), that must affect the way we see life... and laughs. I think I can laugh now about things I would not have found funny before being a nurse. Exemple: I thought everybody at bedside of a dying person should cry all the tears in their body unless they didn't like the person!! Really! Imagine my surprise when I found out that one could actually laugh at bedside, even in the most painful situations... Being a nurse teach you to be real...

Keep smiling!!;)


75 Posts

I think that you have to have a warped sense of humor to work in this line of else do you get through the hard days?? I don't feel that we mean to offend anyone...nursing is different...loved the hamster story:D It's like talking about a resident needing pillow therapy...just a way to blow off some steam.

Sable's mom

186 Posts

Specializes in NICU, L&D, OB, Home Health, Management.

Having been in this business for 25+ years, my husband tells me that the nights I work with others with a warped sense of humor (like mine) are the nights I come home fairly normal. I think that spending the time, energy and tears how (and where) we do requires a strange sence of humor - or lots of pychotropic drugs. haha!

micro, RN

1,173 Posts

sense of humour, no this is not allowed .........check your nurse practice acts.................


back at it today.....where is my white hat and all my recent journal articles.........forgot the heels.....omg.....where are they


2,719 Posts

Now I thought the hamster one funny the second one too but I can see how someone could be offended by the second one.

Our humor keeps up sane in insane and horrible situations. However, I have to remember that non nurses will not appreciate most of our humor and keep in among collegue only. Most of our humor should be for us only. I have to filter VERY carefully that wich I will share with non nurses.


487 Posts

2 words - coping mechanism

I could not do this job if I couldnt make light of some of the things I have to deal with on a daily basis....

you have to make things funny sometimes, and eventhough we may come off ummm morose or sick minded that is cancelled out by the fact that we save lives , help to heal the sick , and enrich humankind as a whole

so all in all, were pretty much perfect

aside from all the bodily fluid stains on our uniforms that dont even belong to us

but yes other than that perfect

oh unless you count the frazzled look we leave the floor with,but yeah what I said first, PERFECT!

and I love love love the hamster thing

in my mind jesus is a kind hearted soul, I dont think he would mind his likeness attached to a hamster, my personal train of thought would have been to tell the kid that no she cant keep it under a heat lamp cuz it will turn into a Mchamster nugget or something, but that would be sick and twisted, just more evidence as to why I dont have any children!



375 Posts

I think that to be able to mourn with family in one room and rejoice with another you have to have the sense of humor. Or all the stress would drive us mad :devil:

And I love the hamster story!!!!!! :roll :roll

mother/babyRN, RN

11 Articles; 1,587 Posts

Specializes in cardiac, diabetes, OB/GYN. Has 27 years experience.

If you can't laugh you will cry...Everyone is different, and after awhile of working with each other, you know each other well enough to say AND not say things..I think being too analytical detracts from what humor is trying to do...Humor is used for ourselves and others, but it can be mitigated by people feeling comfortable enough to approach someone who has said something which may have made them uncomfortable. Its all about communication...

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