Journal of Nursing Jocularity

Journal of Nursing Jocularity

Archive for November, 2010

Nurse Marge in Charge

Dear Nurse Marge,

I need your opinion.  I’m worried I might have a problem.  My family certainly thinks I have one – but I know other nurses who do the same thing, so maybe things aren’t that bad and it’s just that my family doesn’t ‘get’ nursing.

Here’s the issue.  I don’t want to bring anything home from work — and I’m not talking about pens or cookies from the snack tray. MRSA, cdiff, all this stuff – it scares the heck out of me. So when I get home, I change out of my scrubs and shoes in the garage and throw that stuff right in the washer.  I slip into a robe I keep out there and head right to the shower.  My family thinks this is nuts and that I’m over-reacting.

Are they right?  Or am I being reasonable?


Germaphobe in Grand Rapids

Dear Germaphobe,

Deciding how to protect your family from the germs you encounter on an everyday basis is a legitimate concern.  Handwashing protocols and common sense go a long way — if you’ve had a patient puke on you, the last thing you want to do is suddenly snuggle with a toddler.

That being said, is it prudent to shed your scrubs in the garage?  It depends.  Do you share the garage with other families?  If the answer is yes, then you’d better keep your clothes on.  Grand Rapids isn’t exactly the tropics — I’d be more worried about chilblains than cross contamination myself.

Bear in mind that your family is going to run into all sorts of nasty things while they’re out and about on a daily basis.  Yes, hospitals are full of sick people — but so are grocery stores, busses, and especially elementary schools.  Unless you can hermetically seal your family inside a bubble (at which point, let me tell you, they will DEFINITELY think you’ve got some issues) then you have to come to peace with the fact that disease is everywhere.  The only difference is that in the clinical setting, we know about it.

Ultimately, it’s a personal decision.  You need to do what you need to do to maintain your personal comfort level about what you encounter at work.  If that means stripping down in the garage, so be it — but if you find that it takes more and more time and effort to reach that comfort zone, or your routines are interfering significantly with your daily life, it might be a good idea to talk with a counselor or colleague to check your perspective.

Good Luck!

Nurse Marge

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The In ‘N Out Patient by Kris Harty

“What’s so funny?”

Exactly. As Kermit says, “it’s not easy being green,” I suspect he also knows it’s not easy being funny.

Sometimes the funny disappears at the most inconvenient times.

Where’s a good laugh when you need one? In the nursing profession, you encounter a lot of days when the funny disappears. You’re dealing with a lot of heavy stuff, patient-wise.

In addition, there’s all that other stuff to contend with during the day. Office politics, coworker issues, supervisor issues, administrative paperwork, and oh yea, let’s not forget good old fashioned burned out fatigue.

What’s a nurse to do?

We all know a little levity in a tense situation does all kinds of wonderful things physically for us – and our patients.

But we can’t simply pull humor out of our…um, hats, now can we? Or…can we?

While I can’t relate to being a nurse, I can relate to intentionally trying to find the funny.  What? – you think it’s easy every week being funny for 500 words in a row? Or more accurately, attempting to be? Gulp. “Oh, the exertion” – she typed one-handed, the other hand wiping sweat off her brow.

Ok, so nursing and writing a column are not quite the same. Nonetheless, I’ve been struggling to come up with a laughable viewpoint on something medical this week; something, anything.

Hmmm. Patient gowns? Nope, only funny to the person exposed to unintentional exposure. Unexpectedly needing to produce a ‘sample’ on demand – after a visit to the ladies room? “I’ll need a six-pack – of anything – to go, please.” Colonoscopies? Don’t even go there.

Chats with friends and colleagues, and sometimes unobtrusive eavesdropping, take on a whole new bent. My hopes soar. “Maybe this conversation will inspire a column!”

Conversations get convoluted. “Oh, what’s that you said, my dear friend? You’re going in for surgery? Tell me, did your surgeon say anything funny about that?”

Yea, not the best route for a warm and fuzzy, kind and caring relationship.

I saw a clip today of a baby giggling hysterically. So much so that he fell over while sitting on the floor. Why? His dad handed him a piece of paper. As the baby grabbed onto it, the dad pulled back, tearing the paper in half. Gales of giggles. Aww, yes, if that was all it still took. Somewhere along the way, we lose our giggle box.

Mundane activities now play double duty. Grocery shopping and driving provide time for daydreaming funny topic possibilities.

I get as far as composing a few lines in my head, and then – poof – it’s gone. Or there’s one laugh out loud line that comes to mind, and I start doing just that: laughing out loud in the grocery store, by myself. For noooo apparent reason whatsoever. Curious stares bring me back to the task at hand. “Helloooo, earth to Kris.”

So I keep looking and listening, and asking odd insensitive questions of friends. Maybe I’ll place a Want Ad. Titled, of course: “What’s so funny?”


Holiday craziness taking its toll? Fed up, worn down, and burned out? You’re only weeks away from the antidote. Ok, maybe not THE antidote, but a darn good start to feeling better soon. Watch for Kris Harty’s upcoming book in early 2011: “StickPeople; Healthcare Pros Stick to It – No Matter What;  How to Beat Burnout, Stop Stressing, and Combat Compassion Fatigue.” Her unique perspective and gratitude for healthcare providers inspires them to keep going.  Kris helps healthcare teams, particularly nurses, combat Compassion Fatigue, while helping their managers reduce turnover. Her message is content-rich, relevant, engaging – and sporadically funny. She is a keynote speaker, author and small group facilitator. Kris Harty is the Stickabilities Specialist at Strong Spirit Unlimited. Clients say her message is life changing. If increasing employee engagement is on your agenda for 2011, book Kris now. Call 877.711.STIC(K), e-mail, or visit

Posted in: The In 'N Out Patient

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Norma in 302

A sweet grandmother telephoned St. Joseph ‘s Hospital. She timidly asked,
‘Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?’

The operator said, ‘I’ll be glad to help, dear. What’s the name and room number?’

The grandmother, in her weak, trembling voice said, ”Norma Findlay, Room 302.’
The operator replied, ‘Let me place you on hold while I check with her nurse.’

After a few minutes the operator returned to the phone and said, ‘Oh, I have good news. Her nurse told me that Norma is doing very well.. Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work is normal and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged on Tuesday.’

The grandmother said, ‘Thank you. That’s wonderful! I was so worried! God bless you for the good news.’
The operator replied, ‘You’re more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter?’
The grandmother said, ‘No, I’m Norma Findlay in 302. No one tells me anything.’

Contributed by Heather R, Idaho — send your favorite jokes and funnies to and we’ll share them with everyone!

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