Journal of Nursing Jocularity

Journal of Nursing Jocularity

Archive for 'How Humor Helps'

Happy Nurses’ Week!

Happy Nurses Week!

If you’ve ever cleared out an entire Pizza Hut just by talking shop with your co-workers, this week is for you!

If you’ve ever complimented a stranger on their lovely veins (or merely ogled from afar!) this week is for you!

If you’ve ever proven your ability C-diff at a distance, using only your nose, this week is for you!

If you’ve ever defined ‘medication error’ as “I should have taken the Ativan myself!” this week is for you!

If you’ve ever had your scrubs seized by the CDC as the most terrifying thing they’ve ever seen, this week is for you!

Nurses are amazing people, and this is the week we celebrate our profession. Whether you’re a nurse in the hospital setting, health clinic, school, nursing home or long term care setting, corrections facility, military, or beyond, the fact is that you’re the front lines of health care in this country. You are the number one source of caring, compassionate patient care. The work you do makes a real difference in the lives of your patients every single day.

Go you! Being a nurse isn’t for everyone. Did you know some people get upset when they get puked on? Or that they expect to have weekends and holidays off? Or that no one, ever, asks their advice about embarrassing chronic constipation problems? It’s true – but you do it.

You’re there with support and encouragement as babies come into this world, and you’re there with compassion and grace when it’s time to go. And in between, for all the scrapes and bumps and bruises and “Hey, y’all watch this now!” you’re there to help put the pieces back together, letting patients know that they don’t have to worry – all bleeding stops eventually!

You are amazing! This week is to celebrate everything you do – and this book is to provide you with the applied humor tools, tips, and strategies that will make it much easier to keep doing it. A great gift for yourself or the nurses you work with. Nurses who laugh are happier, healthier people – and they’re better nurses too!

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The In ‘N Outpatient by Kris Harty

“I’m a band-aid ripper-offer.”

“And what does that mean?” I asked Pamela, my book’s editor, over coffee last week.

“It means I’m decisive. I make a decision, quickly, and then dive in and put plans in place to make the decision happen. I’m not much on looking back and second-guessing once the decision is made. Full throttle ahead.”

I’m a band-aid ripper-offer wanna-be. There’s been a few times when I have been, and I admit, it felt good. I’m working on making it more a part of my regular routine.

I’m more of a cautiously-lift-up-the-corner-of-the-band-aid-and-ouch-realize-this-is-gonna-hurt-and-oh-I’m-so-not-quite-ready-but-I’m-sure-I-will-be-after-I-think-about-it-just-a-little-bit-more kind of person.


Sometimes time doesn’t help at all. The resulting decision is usually the same whether we decide it now or later.

We often know the direction we need to go long before we commit to it. We don’t need time to re-consider; we need time to adjust to the new direction before saying it is so.

This I do a lot.

Yet some of the biggest decisions of life I’ve made quickly. They often seemed so clear cut, so right, so on track. Something pushed me toward that direction as the obvious choice although it may not have seemed likely to other people.

Other decisions, typically smaller decisions, are the ones I hem and haw on before finalizing the next move. They can be excruciatingly difficult and time-consuming. What flavor ice cream, for example.

So many choices, so few taste buds.

Most of us probably remember our mothers tugging off band-aids from us as small tikes. I, for one, would wince and look, then look away. Then look, then grimace, then yowl.

Looking back, it was no doubt far more painful for her than for me.

YANK. Off it came. No more dreaded anticipation. No more imagining it worse than it really was.

Don’t we still sometimes carry out that process as adults when making choices? We agonize over making the right choice. This or that? That or this? In actuality, it’s rarely going to turn out badly either way. We simply need to make a decision and move forward.

Yet we putter with the band-aid, looking at it, then looking away. We almost start ripping up the corner, and then we stop and think about it some more. Seriously, what are we waiting for? Decisions usually involve change, and while change certainly can be painful, we often prolong the pain far longer than is necessary.

If we would simply make the decision and the change all in one quick fluid motion, life could move on and we’d be the better for it – much sooner and with much less suffering.

Do we ever learn? For some of us – ahem – it takes a lifetime.

I’m determined to be more like Pamela, more of a band-aid ripper-offer than a band-aid-putter-offer. Next time there’s a band-aid on my body, I’ll be yanking it off in one fell swoop, as my mother used to say. Or maybe in two fell swoops. Or three…

I’m so excited that my first book is now a published reality! A Shot in the Arm and A Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere…No Matter What! A Lifelong Patient Opens Her Heart and Journal. I wrote this book out of respect, love and admiration for YOU – the professional health care giver. You’ve kept me alive and walking through four decades of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. That’s worthy of a medal, but alas, medal-making is not my skill. But I can write a book. If you’d like an insider’s view of how you can and do make a difference to your patients, then I humbly suggest snatching up a copy while it’s hot off the press. Packed with inspiration and application, it’s a quick 2 ½ hour read that I hear can be life-changing. Available on Amazon ( and wherever books are orderable in stores or online.

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Military Medicine: Finding Laughs While Delivering Front Line Care

military medical

Photo courtesy of DVIDS

At first glance, the world of the military nurse is very different from our own.  After all, here we are, safe and sound, while they’re on the front lines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other places around the world.

Military medical personnel are confronted daily, hourly, with the results of war.  Even those of us who work in civilian trauma facilities don’t see a fraction of what these folks experience.  None of us have to wear body armor when working triage!

Yet in many ways, we’re not as different as you might suppose. The same nursing skills we use every day are also used by military personnel. That being said, the structure, rules and regulations of the military can make tasks more challenging than they are on the  more peaceful side of the equation.

Take a simple assessment:

Once, there was this one Marine Corps. General who was in a horrible accident. As a result, he had to have both of his ears amputated. Years later, he was interviewing a young Lt. in his office. He really liked this Lt. and asked him “Hey Lt., do you notice anything different about me?”

The Lt. replies “Well, yes sir, you have no ears.”

The general was so mad that he kicked the Lt. out of his office.

The next day, the general was interviewing a female Lt. He also like this Lt. and asked her the same thing. “Lt. do you notice anything about me?”

She says “Well yes sir, you have no ears.”

He kicks her out of his office.

Now, the next day, the general is interviewing a GySgt. He really likes this clever GySgt. and asks him “Sergeant, do you notice anything about me?”

The Sarge says “Well yes sir you’re wearing contact lenses.”

The general was so impressed and asked “How did you know I was wearing contacts?”

The sarge says “Well, it’d be pretty hard to wear glasses without ears.”

Humor and the Military Nurse

Humor is a valuable tool that allows us to remain resilient and up to the challenges that must be faced and overcome.  When you’re in an extremely tense environment – and I’d say any environment where you have a more than reasonable expectation of being shot at qualifies! – the ability to identify and exploit those opportunities to laugh is a critical survival skill.

Humor provides many valuable physical and emotional benefits. By alleviating the effects of stress and tension, laughter helps return the body to a state of balance.  Obviously, this is not a cure all.  Just as we know there are no truly quiet nights in the ER, every moment of our military medical personnel’s day is one that is inherently filled with stress and tension.

Humor Connects

It is not unusual to hear military personnel who have been deployed overseas talk about a sense of being forgotten or separated from the world back home.  This sense of isolation is very bad not only for their morale, but for making the transition back home once the deployment is done easier.  Humor can play a role in combatting this sense of being separate and forgotten.

Reach out to nurses and military medical personnel that you know who are far from home.  Something as simple as a funny email can bring a much needed smile. When you send care packages, tuck in some funny cartoons or jokes. If we practice laughing together when we’re apart, it will be that much easier to laugh together when we’re on the same soil once again!

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