4 Things to Never Ask a Nurse

NursingJune 13, 2014

Most questions are fair game to ask a nurse. Any question about treatment, an ailment, hospital policy or to get clarification about anything, speak up and ask away. Nurses are there to help ensure that you are properly informed. While they will advocate for you and help in every way they can, they won't be your handmaid, waitress, best friend or lover. Here are four things you should never ask a nurse.

Why Didn't You Become a Doctor?

"Why didn't you become a doctor? You seem smart enough!" Asking this question is a surefire way to offend almost every nursing professional out there. Nurses go to nursing school for a reason: to take care of patients — people — not just disease management. Take a second to recognize how much time a nurse spends with a patient compared to how much time a doctor spends with him. This is one reason you do not want to offend a nurse with such a question!

Nurses celebrate the time they get to spend with patients, three 12-hour shifts, a smaller patient load, the ability to change specialties easily, a third of the schooling and a fraction of the malpractice liability. Not to mention that when a nurse isn't at work, there is no pager and no responsibility.

Can I Get Your Number?

Some nurses find it flattering in a way, when a patient makes a pass at them, but more often than not, it's awkward. There are ethical considerations at work here, so a nurse is duty-bound to reject you. And after they do, then what? You've got an uncomfortable shift to spend together after that.

"Nightingale syndrome," when a nurse becomes enamored with her patient, is just not going to happen, so save your pickup lines for the bar when you get better.

Let's Not Get Too Personal

"Where do you live? Are you married? Do you have kids?"

No offense, but that's none of your business. Nursing is a unique profession because to be really effective, there has to be a level of trust between the patient and nurse. To gain trust, there has to be some give and take, but there is a limit to what a nurse should disclose. That includes the nurse's address, Social Security number, marital problems, and difficulties with upper management. In general, avoiding any questions that may be too personal is a good rule of thumb.

Don't Lie

If there is one way to ruin a relationship of trust, it's by lying. Odds are, a nurse knows that you are lying, or through the course of your stay at the hospital, the truth will come out. Nurses have a keen sense of smell for lies, so impress them with your refreshing honesty. No matter what you did or didn't do, nurses have to give you the best care possible — get them on your side by keeping everything on the up and up.

It all comes down to respect: respect for the patient and for the nurse as a professional and as a human being.

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Tags: LPN, nursing