What Happens When Nurses Become Patients

What Happens When Nurses Become Patients - BlogOne thing that is true about most nurses is that they like to be in control. Nurses know what they’re talking about, so when they become the patient, things can get difficult. Many nurses don’t like handing the reigns over to another nurse regardless of how qualified they may be.

Here are 4 things that will probably happen when a nurse becomes the patient.

1. Their inner germaphobe kicks in.

Nurses know where all the germs hide. Because they work in the medical field, they know what gets cleaned and disinfected daily, and what does not.

Angela Brooks says one of these items is the clipboard that holds medical forms. “I always think about how many people who have snotty noses and are coughing all over the clipboard that I am now holding. The one item in the doctor’s office, which is not wiped off at the end of the day, or between germy sick patients.”1

2. They have issues handing over control.

Many nurses find it difficult to fully hand over control to the medical professionals taking care of them. Often, nurses try to insert their own nurse knowledge and opinion when others are treating them.

Shazia from The Atlantic gives the example of her coworker who was in the hospital and put on a medication that had possible side effects of nausea and vomiting. “The doctor’s orders stated to give anti-nausea medication if needed–only for if and when the patient displayed the symptom. But my coworker decided that her orders superseded the doctors—a classic mindset of nurses who become patients. She had no intention of feeling any of the side effects.”2

3. Sometimes they become rule breakers.

Shazia says, “It’s also not unusual to find nurses believing that they are above the rules when the tables turn on them.”2

Sometimes nurse knowledge gets the best of us. Nurses who become patients often think they still know best and will defy the orders given to them by doctors and nurses.

4. The unusual is likely to happen.

We’ll call this one ‘nurses’ luck.’ Often when nurses are patients, anything that could happen will. Shelly from Mighty Nurse tells us “if something can happen, it probably will if a nurse is the patient. It’s Murphy’s Law or something. Think of the most obscure, barely-relevant complication, and THAT will be that complication they have. Been there, done that.”3

Let’s face it, as a nurse, we’d all rather be the nurse than the patient. It can be hard as a nurse to transition into the role of patient. Learning to trust your fellow nurses and medical professionals can help make this transition easier.

How do you react to being a patient as a nurse? Tell us in the comments below!


  1. http://angelabrook.com/when-nurses-become-patients
  2. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/when-nurses-become-patients/272540/
  3. http://www.mightynurse.com/8-things-that-will-probably-go-wrong-when-a-nurse-is-the-patient-stories/