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Running out of steam


On my first student placement, I was sent to fetch a bowl of steam by a stern-looking charge nurse.

I said I didn’t think steam could be carried in a bowl, but the staff said a ward had a special machine. When I asked for the bowl of steam, the staff were in stitches. They gave me a brown bottle and made me tell the charge nurse that the steam machine was broken, and they had bought in emergency supplies.


Readers' comments (10)

  • I was sent , as a second year student nurse .by a very venerable surgeon, to look for Gods Needle Holder. I rushed around, asked both theatre sisters , hunted in the cupboard, and went back to apologise for not finding it. The surgeon was laughing away , holding up his hand he said " had it all the time nurse "
    Obviously we still like playing jokes !

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  • Have seen numerous newbies sent for:
    Fallopian tubes [yes really]
    A long stand
    Striped paint
    glass nails....

    Nice to see humour of a kind still survives in these PC and frankly rather joy free times.

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  • I'm not really sure that humiliating someone is really all that funny.
    it's a little creepy to me that someone would go out of their way to embarass someone like that.

    don't forget that if it happens to you, you weren't randomnly selected. you were targeted, most liely because it appeared that you had no common sense or you have an overwhelming and quite harmful awe for authority figures.

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  • I was sent for 'E-grease' for elbows. As I had been accustomed to using E-45 cream in the past for skin care, including elbows, it did not seem so strange. Needless to say, the nurse on the ward to which I had been sent, realised it was a joke and we had a good laugh.

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  • frankly we all need a little moment of silliness in our lives just to keep the giggle factor up ! As long as it is not malicious and not intended to demean I think the odd joke goes a long way to making life just a little bit happier.

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  • jjjez I have to disagree. Used correctly, this banter can help to create a team ethic, to 'bring a newbie into the fold' so to speak. So everyone gets a harmless giggle out of it, I don't see the harm in that.

    You are right of course that these things should never be done purely for humiliation or victimisation. But in my experience, they aren't. There are many more ways to victimise in this profession unfortunately. Nursing has a vastly ingrained and heirarchal bullying culture already, things like this, used correctly, can actually help combat that.

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  • We had a laugh a minute on my ward and always enjoyed our pranks on each other and teasing the young doctors. It served to lighten the tension and sometimes our sadness on a hectic acute medical ward and, together with the challenges and priviledge of being able to deliver care of the highest quality, it was a pleasure to go to work every day.

    Transparent waxed paper (previously used to seal tubes containing blood sent for lab analysis) in the ear pieces of stethoscopes always worked a wonder, especially on the Prof.'s round when an unsuspecting student nodded wisely when questoned by the Prof. about whether he had heard a specific heart murmur. There were usually about six medics surrounding the bed to ausculated a patient at any time so the student definitely couldn't lose face when everyone else had detected the murmur or an arrythmia, or at least said they had!

    One nurse went to far however when a condom sprang out of a doctor's wallet onto the desk at the check-out of a supermarket in front of a long queue of people (maybe he feared one of his patients amongst the spectators!).

    Too long for this space, perhaps my mission in life is now to write a book about all our antics.

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  • Are we becoming a world of prudish, boring machines or are we still human?

    Small pranks that cause no harm and don't continue onto bullying are, in my opinion, fine. We are heading into a dark desperate place where fun and smiles will be outcasts and staff will be fired or attacked for looking the wrong way!

    If anyone has been the victim of these pranks ( I'm one!) will have kicked themselves and laughed it off. Anyone who hasn't needs to learn to do so before their faces cease up!!!

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  • Have sent students to pharmacy for diabetic soap. Pharmacy asked the student if they wanted pink or blue.......

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  • As a student I fetched a patient from theatres and there was no drip stand so i had to hold the bag of fluid up, when the theatre staff said I looked just like the lady with the lamp. I was just puffing up my feathers with pride at such flattery when the porter said you mean nurse with a drip at which my semi-conscious patient sat bolt upright on his trolley and said 'I beg your pardon'. we all had a good laugh which I am sure sped up his recovery!

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