Your Most AWKWARD Nursing Moment


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?


441 Posts

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.


207 Posts

Specializes in Psychiatry, ICU, ER. Has 4 years experience.

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."

Specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg. Has 16 years experience.

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.

Specializes in ER, progressive care. Has 7 years experience.

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.

Specializes in ER, progressive care. Has 7 years experience.

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:


837 Posts

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!

Tait, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 2,140 Posts

Specializes in Acute Care Cardiac, Education, Prof Practice. Has 16 years experience.

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


tyvin, BSN, RN

1,620 Posts

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, BSN

67 Articles; 14,023 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.
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?


300 Posts

Specializes in CEN, CPEN, RN-BC. Has 4 years experience.

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


1,131 Posts

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!

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