November 3, 2006, 7:56 pm

Meanwhile, As the ER Is Busy Saving Lives…


Oh dear.

This is wrong on so many levels!

First of all, you can bet your sweet bippy that the physicians in this facility aren’t sitting in a break room like this!

Where are the feng shui police when you need them?

Next, these poor women look scared to death!

Maybe they were traumatized by a “Code Brown” (If you know what that is, nothing more need be said. If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself among the fortunate!)

Then we have the cap issue. These women are wearing their caps in the “low occipital placement” style.

This is not appropriate.

One must wear the cap resting lightly over the crown of the head, with the sides gently sloping over the parietal regions.

Geeze, even I know that.

This is a 2/10 on the Emergiblog Cap Rating Scale (the ECRS).

And don’t even get me started on the fact that the nurse by the window has her hand resting on the thigh of the nurse to her right, who doesn’t seem to mind one bit!

I feel a Very Special Episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” coming on…..


Most of us, when we think of hospitals conjure up images of dramatic, life altering events.

And this is a correct assumption.

But there is another world in the hospital universe.

A world of classes, luncheons, the annual Benefit Fair. Scrumptious visits by the candy-totin’ drug reps.

A world that has nothing to do with nursing, emergency departments or the night shift as a whole.

A world where there is time for…

A freakin’ costume contest.


Oh, yes!

While the nurses and doctors are hauling their derrieres off on the upper floors and in the emergency department, working hard saving the lives of those who seek our care…

…there are those who work amongst us who have the time to participate in a Costume Contest.

And a Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Excuse my language but W- freakin’-T-F?

We are in a hospital, people! People are dying, or trying to, on a regular basis.

Now I know that you worked hard on the Jack Skelington suit, the Superman cape you made yourself, and the groovy Chiquita Banana costume you’re sporting that looks more like a yellow male appendage.

Tres cool.

But not in the hospital. Not when patients and families can see you walking in the hallways.

I don’t know about you all, but we have…how shall I put this….WORK to do on the other shifts.

How wonderful for you that you have the time for frivolity and fun in all those other departments.


Now I hear what you’re saying:

Why Kim, you are an old fogey curmudgeon! Why can’t we have a little fun in our jobs?

Fun? You want fun?

True story: I once worked with a nurse who came to work in an ER on Halloween in a total, complete duck costume. I’m talking head, complete with beak, orange legs, big ol’ honkin’ duck feet…

And feathers!

This is professional?

Now I’m all for decking the halls and putting up appropriate decorations.

One of my current co-workers has a beautiful knack for decorating our ER for every season. I know when a holiday is on the way because she does such a subtle, elegant job of creating a seasonal mood at the nurses’ station for the staff and patients.

And I’ll admit to wearing a SpongeBob ScaredyPants scrub top during Halloween.

And a Charlie Brown Baseball scrub top during baseball season.

Okay, okay. I have a set of Notre Dame scrubs that I wear on Game Day.

But I look and act professionally.

I hope.


I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m a party pooper.

I’m really not.

It’s just hard for me to justify blatant frivolity in a facility so fraught with life-threatening events and anxiety ridden patients and family.


Someone asked if I was going to wear all white and my nursing cap on Halloween.

You know, come as a “nurse”?

I said no.

That uniform is not a “costume”. It should be a sign of respect for, and engender respect from, my patients and their families.

I actually gave up a chance to wear my cap without incurring the ridicule of my peers.


I don’t know. Maybe I am an old fogey.

I do like to have fun and spread humor at work. I’m not all business and solemnity as a I deal with my patients.

There are just some things that aren’t appropriate.

Dressing up like a Chiquita Banana is one of them.


  • Susan

    November 3, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    One Easter my mother and I went to visit my grandfather in the hospital after he’d had minor surgery. In the lobby, we saw people wearing giant bright-yellow chicken costumes, complete with conical orange beaks that looked like the points of very sharp pencils. Those things could put your eye out.

    We were told that these creatures were headed up to the pediatrics floor to cheer up the kids on Easter.

    If I were a child and saw one of those Mutant Chickens from Hell leaning over my hospital bed, I’d go into cardiac arrest on the spot. They scared me, and I was a healthy adult!

    WTF, indeed!

  • Melissa

    November 4, 2006 at 12:33 am

    LMAO over the duck costume. I can’t imagine being sick or injured and having a duck take care of me. Where I work, we’re required to dress like nurses on Halloween and every other day.

  • DisappearingJohn

    November 4, 2006 at 7:00 am

    Nope, sorry Kim, I gotta call fuddy-duddy on you over this one.

    Almost every nurse on our night shift wore “something” unusual for halloween night. Not full costumes, mind you. There were a few halos, a few tiaras. I personally wore a wonderful set of devil horns that I have had for a few years. When I put them on they look like they are indeed growing out of my head.

    And I got a laugh out of every patient I saw. I took them off before I went in to see kids, and then showed them to them…

    And everyone had a good time, enjoyed the day, and we had a blast…


  • beastarzmom

    November 4, 2006 at 7:31 am

    I think I have to agree with John this time. Even in a high paced, high pressure place like the EDs, or maybe especially in these places, fun in the workplace is appropriate, and even necessary.
    Good common sense needs to be applied, as I also agree with you that a full on duck costume is not easy to work in, and even perhaps a danger to patients and thus, is inappropriate for an ER. It is not necessarily a danger to patients or inappropriate if you’re the business office clerk, though. Even if you work in a hospital. Doesn’t mean you have more TIME for frivolity, just that you can and are willing to wear a costume on Halloween.
    I like celebrating “Talk Like a Pirate Day” at work too, but I get my work done!

  • Kim

    November 4, 2006 at 9:02 am

    Well, the Fuddy-Duddy opinion may be taking over in the polls here.

    Just so I can redeem myself, I will acknowledge that I did wear “Hello Kitty” ears for approximately 15 minutes on the night of Halloween.

    After two co-workers commented that I looked like a Playboy Bunny (a very saggy Playboy Bunny, as I told John in an email), I took them off.

    All I needed to complete the costume was a cotton tail and a drink platter (of course, major cleavage and a six -inch full body lift would have helped with the illusion)

    Hey, this girl just wants to have fun, too! I guess I was traumatized by a Chiquita Banana. And a duck. Then again, for me the height of enthusiasm is a SpongeBob ScaredyPants scrub top.

    Perhaps my Fun-o-meter needs recalibrating…..

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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