40 things a Nurse Hears on a Shift

Nurses hear many things on a shift, and some of them sound like your iPod is stuck on replay. Beyond the ubiquitous call light, certain phrases, sounds, and noises pop up in just about every shift.

There are also those sounds that you only hear every once in a while . . . like the code blue call overhead. Either way, here is a list of 40 sounds every nurse should be familiar with.

1. “Nurse!”
2. “I have to go to the bathroom!”
3. “My pain is 10 out of 10.”
4. The rattle of the crash cart coming down the hall
5. The beep of a heart monitor
6. “Do you have anything to eat? My son wants something, too.”
7. The clacking of fingers on keys when you chart
8. The beep of scanning a patient’s ID bracelet
9. The siren-like sound of a bed alarm
10. The groan of the bed as you raise the head
11. “Can you help me with this patient? I’m swamped.”
12. “What are the patient’s last three vital signs? I can’t give an order without them.”
13. “Code brown. Can you help me clean up the patient in room 14?”
14. The suction noise made by positioning a bedpan
15. The thump of heart sounds
16. The rattling, wet gurgle of pneumonia breath sounds
17. Any of the following: Honey, Babe, Sweetheart, Dear
18. “Are you a doctor? Why not?”
19. The hush as your manager walks down the hall
20. The click of the hand sanitizer dispenser
21. The splash of water over your hands as you scrub them
22. The snap of gloves when you remove them
23. The tearing sound as you break out of an isolation gown
24. “Is it time for my pain medicines yet?”
25. “I know my doctor ordered me dilauded IV push every four hours, so I know that’s when I can get it again. I’ll set my alarm.”
26. “Well, WebMD said . . . “
27. The roar of seven guests crammed into a room with the patient
28. The silence of a quiet night . . . which is a rare sound
29. The hum of the computer screen as you squint into it
30. The beep of an empty IV pump
31. That stabbing sound when you spike a bag
32. The rattle of uneven wheels on an IV pole skating across linoleum
33. The creak of an elderly patient’s joints
34. The quiet sniffles that come from you after a difficult shift
35. “Can I see you in my office? Now?”
36. The rattle of a stretcher coming up from the ER with your new admit
37. The deafening sound of a television in the room of a patient who is hard of hearing
38. The squeal of feedback when a patient removes their hearing aides
39. The rattle of pills in the little plastic administration cup
40. The sound of the elevator doors parting in front of you, allowing you to end your shift