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Your Most AWKWARD Nursing Moment

Mully specializes in SICU.

I was thinking about this really awkward situation that happened to me a couple years ago and I thought it'd be funny if you all shared your most awkward moments in your nursing career.

Without a doubt, here's mine:

I'm a male CNA at a long term care facility, and I walked in at around 8 o'clock one evening, to a woman's room who we will call Betty. Her call light was on, and as I shut it off, she explained to me that she was ready to get in bed, however, she didn't want me (because I'm a man) to help her, she wanted her female CNA, Stephen.

(Right now you're probably having the same reaction I did).

Not quite understanding what she meant, I asked her again who her CNA was for the night.

"You know," she says, "Stephen. She's that large, black woman who comes in and sings to me every night."

Now, we did have a CNA named Stephen, and he was working that night. And yes... he is larger... and yeah... I do believe he likes to sing... buuuuuut... he is most definitely not a she. Now in hindsight, I can think of about a thousand ways in which I could've handled this situation better. In hindsight. I however went with the knee-jerk.

"Betty... Stephen is a man."

(long pause)

"No no, you're not thinking of the right person. Stephen is a woman. She takes care of me every night"

"Betty, when was the last time you heard of a woman being named 'Stephen'?"

(longer pause)

"This can't be right. Do you mean Stephen? The CNA who takes care of me?"

She's not getting it. And at this point, she's so darn convinced that he's a she that I'm starting to rack my brain like, "Do we really have a woman named Stephen working here!?!" So after re-convincing myself that I'm not crazy, I must have said something that finally got through to Betty that Stephen was a man. IMMEDIATELY however, I regretted the entire conversation I just had with her. I still remember...

"Are you kidding me?!" she says. Betty's got this look of sadness and disgust all over her face. This little old woman who was so modest and private that she never would let a male worker see her naked, and who loved this 'woman' CNA so much, just had these things dashed before her, by me. And at this crescendo of opinion reorientation and awkward silence, guess who walks in?

"HI Betty!!!!" Stephen bounds in with his eccentric voice and noticeably feminine mannerisms.

I squeak from the corner, "Oh hey Stephen! uh.. hehe.. uh..."

Stephen, noticing something in the aura of the room is a little off, inquires what's up.

I look down at Betty. She has this unsure, confused look on her face. I watch in horrid, awkward silence as she looks up at Stephen... then looks at me... then looks back at Stephen. Suddenly, a slight smile peels across her face.

As she looks at Stephen, she references me and says, "He's been pulling my leg!" and starts laughing.


Stephen, unaware of what's going on, politely joins in with her laughter. Like a compliment of the Grinch (who thought up a lie and thought it up quick), I saw my salvation in a way to omit the truth... and omit it up quick! I released that pent up awkward energy into a big laugh, patted Betty on the back, said something like, "Oh Betty, you're fun to joke with," and walked my butt out of that room so fast I left smoke.

Honestly it could have been a lot worse.

So what's your awkward story?

abbaking specializes in Telemetry, Med-Surg, ED, Psych.

Years ago I had a patient who was born a female but was transitioning to become a male with sex reassignment and HRT. The wife was born a male and was likewise transitioning to become a female.

My patient (the biological female) was incontinent. I had to clean his vagina. When time came to do that, I said that his vagina was messy from the poop.

He Said thats my penis.

It was confusing because he was a biogical woman but due to legal reasons we had to call him a MAN even though it was clear a day he was not a man.

apocatastasis specializes in Psychiatry, ICU, ER.

I had two interactions with a 650 pound, 30something, slightly MR male who I admitted to ICU for pneumonia.

The first was him asking me (and four other people) to turn him q15 minutes to "check for poopies." I did twice and there was nothing. He goes, "Well, you know, I just want to make sure, because you know how you cough and poopies come out?" Me, awkwardly: "Uhhhhhh, actually, I don't have that problem."

Later, we had to put a foley in him. It took THREE ICU nurses to do it... two to push down on the fat so we could find the penis, and one to put the foley in.

So, as we're pushing down, he yells out, "CAN YOU SEE ITS LITTLE HEAD?!?!"

My co-worker looked straight at me and said, "You better look for the camera, I think you're being punked."

imintrouble specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg.

You'd think I'd learn, but I've done the following over and over.

"Is this your mother?"

"No, I'm his wife."

I don't know what make me feel worse, the look of anger or the look of hurt on the woman's face.

There is absolutely no way to backpedal away from that situation. EVERYTHING just makes it worse.

turnforthenurse specializes in ER, progressive care.

Confused patient: "where did that man go?"

Me: "which man?"

Patient: "you know, that black n***** man!" :eek: (patient was referring to the CNA who was just in the room)

I was appalled at their comment. I told her that language was inappropriate, to which she replied "oh, I'm sorry!" but other than that I didn't know what to say! And thankfully my CNA wasn't around when she made that comment. I didn't mentioned it to the CNA, either.

turnforthenurse specializes in ER, progressive care.

Oh and walking in while a patient and their SO are having sex. I know it's one of Maslow's physiological needs and all but geez, talk about AWKWARD!!! :eek:

Going up to a patient and calling them "sir" several times before the patient said "I'm MRS lastname".

I KNEW she was a female, but my mouth/brain kept saying Sir!

Edited by JDZ344

Tait specializes in Acute Care Cardiac, Education, Prof Practice.

Going into the room of a young, male patient later labeled as having "whackacardia".


tyvin specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

Going into the room of a young, male patient later labeled as having "whackacardia".


:yeah:We all know males, or should I say some males will have at it no matter where they are. I wish they would call and tell us not to bother them for x amount of time before ascending to the Heavens. ;)

Ruby Vee specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

you'd think i'd learn, but i've done the following over and over.

"is this your mother?"

"no, i'm his wife."

i don't know what make me feel worse, the look of anger or the look of hurt on the woman's face.

there is absolutely no way to backpedal away from that situation. everything just makes it worse.

really, it's no better when you refer to the patient as "your father" when she's really his wife. my biggest blunder was in referring to the little old white haired lady accompanying the little old white haired male patient as his wife. they were both wearing wedding rings, and from the petting and cooing, it was obvious they were a couple. i said something to the effect of, "mr. smith i'll just finish getting you ready for surgery and then we'll we'll have your wife and kids back in to tell you goodbye."

the son and daughter looked daggers at me, and the little old man looked stricken.

"betty's his girlfriend," someone told me finally. "our mother has alzheimer's and she's in a nursing home."

what i want to know is, why didn't someone tell me that before i asked her to sign the consent for surgery because he couldn't write with his hand trussed to an armboard?

LegzRN specializes in CEN, CPEN, RN-BC.

The lol who was dressed up in complete KKK garb. Not so much an awkward moment, but a W-T-F moment.

MomRN0913 specializes in ICU.

Not my awkward moment, but a fellow nurses of mine hilarious encounter.

A coworker of mine had to insert foley on an AAO man. he kept saying "it takes a lot to coax him out, I have an inny" The nurse kept saying "don't worry, I will be able to get in the foley" He insisted she needed "help" So, he starts masterbating right there in front of her in an effort to help her. She starts yelling at him "stop that right now"' he did stop before he "finished" but he claimed he was just trying to help her out! The way she told the story was hilarious!

Okay, so I grew up practically Amish with extreme conservative values. I had several awkward moments when I started out as a CNA in a long term facility. One day the nurse of the unit said we needed to put a condom catheter on one of the patients. He must have seen my perplexed look. The nurse asked "Have you ever put a condom on?" to which I replied "What's a condom?" Haha, you should have seen his face as he exclaimed "Are you serious?"

During my 3 week career as a nurse I've had one hilarious moment. My preceptor and I walk into the room of an old patient who has a trach.

We could hear he was a congested. First thing he asks the nurse (female) is if she could "deep throat" him. She steps out to the hall right next to her and starts laughing out loud. I couldn't stop smiling and say, yes we can "deep suction" you. Dont think he knew what was going on. haha.

Dixielee specializes in ER.

I had a patient many years ago who had a progressive neurological condition that had advanced so far she could not even turn her head, but was alert and oriented. Her mother was with her constantly and even had to turn her head for her because she has no purposeful movement at all. I was starting her IV and instinctively said, "Don't move". She immediately said sarcastically, "if I could move, I wouldn't be here!" I felt like a total idiot, and remember her clearly to this day. :eek:

That Guy specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab.

I have to repeat in my head over and over to say "take some deep breaths". The ONE time I screw up it was on a 20 something female pt to take some deep breasts. I dont think she heard me but I just hung my head in shame. Not to mention coming out of the room and having the other nurses ask if their breasts sounded ok. I wont live that one down for awhile.

LouisVRN specializes in Med/Surg.

Probably one of the funniest and awkward moments I've had was in caring for a very conservative religious LOL. She made it clear her faith and modesty were of upmost importance to her and her little old husband going to stay the night with her on her first night post op s/p hip repair. well as often happens to LOL post-op at night, she became increasingly confused, what we were not prepared for was her little old husband to get completely confused as well. At one point the husband became belligerent and bordering on combative with the male respiratory therapist demanding that the man get out of his house, the male lab tech didn't get any warmer of a reception. As if controlling the little old husband wasn't bad enough the LOL turned into a cursing nightmare screaming and yelling all sorts of profanities at the top of her lungs. At one point my preceptee who is also rather conservative and I went in to turn her and she grabs we are telling her to reach for the side rail to assist in her turn, well needless to say instead of grabbing the side rail she full on grabs my co-workers breast full palm on and refused to let go. My co-worker just gave me a mortified look while I was trying not to laugh.

defyinggravity2009 specializes in Complex care, tele.

You'd think I'd learn, but I've done the following over and over.

"Is this your mother?"

"No, I'm his wife."

I don't know what make me feel worse, the look of anger or the look of hurt on the woman's face.

There is absolutely no way to backpedal away from that situation. EVERYTHING just makes it worse.

My story is very similar....I too made the epically terrible assumption that the patient was the mother of the man walking in the door to pick up his discharged significant other.

Problem is, I have since found out that he is very good friends with my landlord, and rents garage space from him to store his Harley Davidson. I now see them about twice a week when they go out for bike rides on nice days. :eek:


I had a seemingly mentally delayed patient who was in for a penile prosthetic replacement ask me if I wanted to play with his big tennis balls :eek:. His girlfriend was in the room too and she just looked on as if that was a totally appropriate thing to ask your nurse :mad:. I couldn't get out of that room fast enough!

Jenni811 specializes in Intermediate care.

I am a young nurse. Im only 23 years old, and i look like im about 16 years old. Almost every patient or family member says something about it. "I have to ask. how old are you? because i know how long it takes to get through nursing school and you don't even look old enough to be through high school."

I just smile "Yea, i get that alot. but i asure you, i have my bachelors and i am older than you may think i am."

when it gets really awkward is when you KNOW patients or family are thinking it, but don't say it. I would rather they just come out and say it or ask.

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