Nurse Life: 27 Surefire Signs You Live in Scrubs

With a field as vast as nursing, it seems there’s always something new to learn. From the array of different specialties that exist within the industry to the one-of-a-kind patient experiences each nurse will inevitably encounter, it’s clear that no two days on the job are the same.

There’s a plethora of insider nursing insight you can only learn after time spent on the job. Seeking advice from those who’ve walked the path of a new nurse before you can help prepare you for things like taxing overnight shifts, “frequent flyer” patients, coping with patient suffering and the importance of critical thinking as a nurse. But what about some of the more nuanced aspects of being a nurse—the quirks all nurses share after they’ve truly earned their stripes?

Once you’ve reached that level of tenure as a nurse, don’t be surprised if you get to a point where you feel you could spot a fellow nurse from a mile away. With that in mind, we spoke to a handful of nurses from a variety of different medical backgrounds to learn about all the tell-tale signs you’re a nurse.

From veteran labor and delivery nurse to an accomplished nurse anesthetist who has literally written a book about ways to succeed in anesthesia, medical and nursing schools, our nursing sources are true experts in their field. Take a look at their tried and true signifiers of life as a nurse.

You know you’re a nurse if…

1. You believe there isn’t a conversation in the world that could make you lose your appetite.

2. You find yourself analyzing the cashier’s veins as they hand you your receipt.

3. Your fitness tracker never reads less than 10,000 steps on one of your work days.

4. You can gauge how much pain medicine a person would need based on their mannerisms, their tattoos and other subjective clues.

5. You always have alcohol pads, gloves and medical tape handy for every situation.

6. None of your friends want to watch medical shows with you because you can’t help but point out how unrealistic they can be.

7. The phrase “playing hard to get” makes you think of tricky veins instead of relationship dynamics.

8. You empty your pockets after a long day to find a pair of scissors, five pens, two rolls of tape, bandages and other office supplies you collected throughout the day.

9. You’ve lost all sense of boundary when it comes to talking about health issues with your coworkers—you openly discuss the psychotropic medications you take, your rashes and other intimate information.

10. While people watching, you’re inclined to point out those who would be difficult to intubate with a breathing tube or numb with an epidural needle.

11. You’re at a place where everyone is dressed nice, but you’re still in scrubs.

12. You get into a long Twitter™ debate about something obscure like the pad placement for shocking a centaur into a normal rhythm.

13. You can somehow make it through a 12-hour shift without going to the bathroom.

14. You instinctively sanitize your hands after touching something.

15. You’re used to eating your food fast as lightning and without sitting down.

16. You know you’d make the worst patient.

17. It’s not a normal get-together with friends or family unless at least two people ask you for medical advice.

18. You get more excited about a new pair of comfy tennis shoes than you ever would about a pair of designer pumps.

19. Your first instinct is to celebrate when a post-op patient passes gas.

20. You can’t help but think of CPR when you hear the Bee Gees.

21. You wash your hands both before and after going to the bathroom.

22. You hear call bells in your sleep.

23. You have your time-off planned at least a year in advance.

24. You’ve learned that “textbook cases” don’t exist.

25. When signing your name on everything from a check to a restaurant receipt, you instinctively scribble “RN” at the end.

26. Seeing blood as you attempt to start an IV makes you feel like you’ve just struck oil in your backyard.

27. No matter how many difficult patients you come across or how many weekends, nights and holidays you have to work, you keep coming back because you love your job.

The reality of life as a nurse

Not only have nurses been identified as the most-trusted profession for 16 years running according to a nationwide Gallup poll, but many would also contend that nurses are uniquely proud of the fulfilling work they do day in and day out.* Try searching the hashtag #nursepride on your favorite social media platform to see just how far-reaching that sense of pride truly is.

It’s the delight our country’s compassionate nurses take in the work they do to improve the lives of others that makes some of the less desirable aspects of the job more than worth it. Taking pride in their profession can also empower nurses to trek on amidst some of the more challenging aspects in this level of dedicated work and may help in avoiding nurse burnout. To learn more about nurse burnout and potential preventative measures you can take, visit our article, “Nursing Burnout: Why It Happens and How to Avoid it.”

*Americans' Ratings of Honesty and Ethical Standards in Professions, Gallup, Dec. 4-11, 2017.

About the author

Jess Scherman

Jess is a Content Specialist at Collegis Education. She researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen University to help empower students to achieve their career dreams through higher education.


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