4 Types of Bad Nurses and How To Not Be One

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I’ve said this before. It feels like I have said it a million times.  Bad nurses suck.

I’ve written about it before, without the vernacular. You can read my past thoughts about it here

However, with the further absolute decline of nursing and the feeling that good ol lady Nightingale is literally rolling over in her grave, I’ll not hold my tongue this time. 

Quit being a shitty nurse. 

There are so many nurses being absolute garbage in so many different ways.  I’m gonna bring to light some of the ways nurses suck.  If you feel guilty and think that maybe I’m talking about you, maybe I am.

No, not maybe. If you have even a twinge of guilt about what I am saying, then I AM 100% talking about you.

The Baby Nurse

Dear baby nurse,

You may be, MAY BE, the only nurse that has garbage potential and either doesn’t realize it or doesn’t care.  You have a lot of learning to do.

I get it. You’re brand new, a bright and shiny star in a sky full of burnt out has-been stars. You’re all eager and chipper and full of go-get-em and knowledge.  Hopefully.

Let me rephrase.  You’re full of book knowledge. Most of you don’t know dick about hands-on nursing. This is ridiculously true about you COVID-era remote learners. If you have barely (or never) put your actual hands on a patient, then quit acting like you know shit about nursing.

Your stellar grades WILL NOT show you how to drop a foley, start an IV or do chest compressions.

You have NO idea what bedside manner is or how to use it.

The easiest way to remedy this?  

Quit being a know-it-all. Quit shaking off the street smarts of nurses that have been in the game a while. 

You do it for a menagerie of reasons. That’s not the way they teach it in school. You don’t have peer-reviewed articles to dissect before you decide it’s worth investigating. You don’t need any help. 

Just stop.

Most older nurses just want to help you. Administration may be full of faults, but most directors won’t put you with a preceptor that doesn’t know what they are doing.  They may try to rub their laziness off on you (we will talk about those), but most preceptors truly want you to succeed.

I can speak for myself when I say, however, if you blow off the golden nuggets of amazing helpful truth I give you, I’m done with you. I will no longer help you if you’re not open to it. 

As a new nurse, you NEED to be open to the help.  Older nurses are the red and white striped life preserves you need or you’ll drown. 

You may not realize it, but you will. If you brush off help, then no one will be around when you need them.

The Lazy Sloth Nurses

You guys are probably the biggest pieces of crap in the nursing world. 

There you are, sitting at the nurse’s station while the CNA (most amazing creatures ever) give your 300 lb bed bound pt a bedbath all by themselves. 

You change your patient’s telemetry orders so you don’t have to accompany them downstairs for their 45 minute procedure, even though the patient is tachycardia and on several different medication drips. 

There’s a special secret spot in the hospital where you can play on your phone or your computer uninterrupted, doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you are currently being paid to do. 

Now, I feel the need to say something. If you have absolutely nothing to do related to your job, and no coworkers to help, then by all means waste some time on your phone. 

But ask. Ask everyone.  Coworkers can always use help. Ask other nurses if you can give meds or dress wounds. Ask the housekeeper if you can hello clean a room. And yea, I heard the voice in your head that said, “But that’s not my job.”

Which brings me to my next piece of shit nurse. 

long hospital hallway

The “Teach them to be lazy” Nurse

You know the ones. Those nurses that have been there since the dawn of time, leaving a permanent ass indention into the chair they have claimed as their own, while “delegating” their job to others.

They are given students or baby nurses to teach, because they have been nursing since the Mesozoic period and have learned more than most others combined. And what do they do with these bright, shiny new lights in the healthcare world?

They teach them it’s ok to sit on their phone while delegating tasks to others. They tell them “the CNA does that” or “the med nurse will do that”. These decrepit old bags teach these new babies how to get by with the bare minimum, and it’s pathetic.

New nurses, you have a right to go to your director and tell them. Don’t throw them under the bus (even if they deserve it for being miserable human beings and worse nurses), but do tell your boss that you don’t feel like you are being trained efficiently.

You also have a right to say “show me” to anyone you’re working with, even if it isn’t your preceptor. If you have the time, you should learn as much as you can about healthcare. Not just nursing, but all of it. Watch the radiology techs and ask questions. Volunteer to go with a patient for a procedure in another department and ask questions.

Nurses LOVE watching new nurses learn. Well, most of us do anyways.

Old nurses, get a new job if you’re miserable.

Speaking of miserable nurses……

“That’s not my job” Jerk Nurse

There are literally, like, 2 instances when that phrase should come out of your mouth. 

They have to do with things that are legally out of your scope of practice or ethically out of your religion or beliefs. 

Otherwise, IT IS YOUR JOB.

Changing linen is YOUR JOB. Changing trash IS YOUR JOB. Giving baths IS YOUR JOB (most of the time. If you’re giving baths in a doctor’s office, though, I feel like you’ve strayed WAY too far.)

I can guarantee if you go back and read your job description, there are parts to it you didn’t know existed. If you ask your boss, I guarantee they will never tell you NOT to help your coworkers.

Being a nurse is being a team player. It’s helping everyone, from the janitor to the CNA to the admin (and if your admin is on the floor and you get to help them, consider yourself blessed. I’ve worked in places with ivory tower admin offices and I never saw the people sending me emails about how to do my job.)

The Bitter Betty Nurse

This one I loathe the most, mainly because I almost got there. There was a point where I HATED being a nurse (you can read about that here).

These nurses are literally upset about EVERYTHING. They come in to work pissed off at the world, and every little thing sets them off. They drag down the entire unit with their bitching and negativity.

They talk about coworkers behind their backs. They VERY VOCALLY challenge doctor’s orders in front of everyone, including the doctor. They make new nurses feel incompetent and CNAs feel inferior. They bitch to anyone who will listen, including coworkers, family and strangers on social media.

In short, they are complete trash individuals.

Like I said earlier, I was on the road to becoming that nurse. I hated my job, hated the hospital I worked for. I brought it home and was constantly pissed off.

But, instead of continuing in the toxic, unhealthy environment I was in, I changed EVERYTHING. I changed jobs, changed hospitals, changed cities and changed states. I did a complete reinvention, learned brand new skills in an area I had NO experience in. It was the best thing I could have ever done.

Sometimes a giant leap is what’s needed to give you passion about your trade. While the changes don’t have to be that big, even little changes can change you back into a nurse who loves nursing.

If you find yourself as any of these nurses, you can change your mindset. You don’t have to be the new nurse who doesn’t need help. You don’t have to be the lazy nurse. You don’t have to say “that’s not my job”. You don’t have to be bitter.

The point of this post is multifaceted.

It hopefully will serve to encourage bad nurses to change their minds. Nursing doesn’t have to be all bad. It is what you make it. I also hope that is serves as motivation to get out if you’re miserable. Sometimes no amount of job changing can change your views about nursing. In that case, send me a message. I’d love to talk to you about how I made a big switch in careers.

It’s also for good nurses to realize they don’t have to put up with crap. You are bigger than a paycheck, bigger than a bullying nurse. If you have nurses trying to teach you bad habits, ignore them. If you have nurses who act like they know if all, let them keep thinking that. Again, nursing is what you make it.

4 thoughts on “4 Types of Bad Nurses and How To Not Be One”

  1. I think you should include psych nurses on this list. When I was in college majoring in psychology,
    i volunteered on one of the units to get information for my thesis. I had an open mind when I first started and truly wanted to help people as a psychologist, but after the first week there and listening to these unbelievably cold, uncaring and bigoted nurses (and aids) i felt i was being purposely swayed by them to hate all the patients there. i could not believe how they could laugh at these poor people, some suffering from disabling depression and ocd, mock them, make jokes about them and how they threatened the majority of them with ect and forced injections for no reason. I felt like i was at Guantanamo bay and that these bitches really missed their calling to be working there. Anyway I seriously shorten my time on that psych ward, i couldn’t take the arrogance and how abusive the staff was even to people who attempted suicide. i wondered for months how any of those nurses really thought they were preventing anyone from trying it again after they discharged, as they would be more disheartened after how they got treated. i got a very bad taste in my mouth about nurses after that, i don’t care for psychiatrists either, and i never went into the filed. i started my own retail business instead. years later though, when i had to have my appendix out i encountered bully mean nurses again, this time in my face and i refused to let them walk all over me. i was mean right back! i now advocate for patients rights in hospitals in my spare time because even the medical industry qualifies under buyer beware as far a I’m concerned.

    • Pysch nurses are a different breed entirely. I give all the kudos to them, because there’s no way in hell I’d do it. Glad you got out, and that you’re an advocate. So many nurses are’t.

  2. When my husband had heart surgery and was recovering in the hospital he had a nurse from HEll. When she was tying his gown, getting him ready to walk, she made a disparaging, mocking remark about his body. Later, he was lying in bed, grimacing in pain, and hadn’t received his medication. I was hesitant to bother the nurse at the nurses’ station but eventually I politely asked her if she could please give him something for his pain. She muttered something and didn’t look up from her computer. I told her thank you and returned to my husband’s room. An hour later I asked again. Same thing. His room was right across from the nurses’ station so I could see her sitting there and talking and laughing with the other nurse. Yet another hour passed. She never did bring my husband’s medication. I gave up. I felt so bad for my husband. The next day she came into his room and literally threw a temper tantrum because I had left the fold out cot down, even though it wasn’t anywhere near where she was standing. She threw it up against the wall. All I could think, when my husband finally got discharged, was how obvious it was that this woman hated her job. She clearly resented having to care for patients. I would never have left my husband there alone because I didn’t trust her.

    • I hate that you had that experience. We aren’t all like that, I promise.


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