20 Bad Nursing Habits & Bedside Manners Others Dislike

Bad Nursing Habits That Drive Other Nurses Up The Wall Like Crazy. Have You Seen Them?

Have you ever worked with a nurse who just makes you wish you got canceled? I have! Have you ever followed a nurse who always has excuses – every time?

What bad behaviors and habits don’t you like? Leave a comment. 

In every unit, there is that nurse or a couple of them no one wants to work with. There is no single way of describing a nurse whom others do not want to work with.

Please share nursing traits that you do not like at the bottom of this article.

  1. Nurse Bullies:

    Yes, Mr. or Ms. Nurse bully. I really do not like working with you. Nurse bullies are many and they come in all shapes and versions.I remember of a new nurse hire in her 40’s who started working in one of the hospitals I once worked. She was the nicest nurse, just that she was a travel nurse in her first time assignment. Of course as you can imagine, she was timid in a new environment.

    Also read: New Grad Travel Nursing Could be Unsafe.

    She came face to face with a nurse bully we all knew about. The kind of nurses who have nothing good to say about anything. A confrontational nurse who probably hated people in general.

    The nurse traveler was about to get an admission and needed help to set up the monitor in critical care.

    She had never used the kind of patient monitors we used in this hospital. Innocently without knowing whom she was asking for help, she asked the bully how to setup the monitor.

    Lateral violence is worse than physical violence in nursing in my opinion. The nurse bully went into the patient room straight to the monitor saying out loud… “We need nurses who know what they are doing over here…not just bodies”.

    Incidentally, she was loud enough for several other nurses including charge nurse to hear. This was not the first time and her bully behavior had become somehow tolerated.

    Seen as the “crazy nurse” who could say anything and somehow got away with such behaviors. The charge nurse had a talk with this bully. Needless to say, nothing much was done about it. The travel nurse later that week canceled her contract and returned to North Carolina.

  2. Dirty and Untidy Nurses:

    There is something about cleanliness and tidiness that is central to nursing in general. You have to be clean and tidy as a nurse.Body odors are a big no-no in the nursing world. It is very understandable when someone has medical issues that may cause body odors but cleanliness is another thing.

    Smelling cigarettes is not excusable to me either. Sorry but there are a lot of smokers and they take care of themselves. They do not smell like a walking ashtray.Ever worked with a dirty and untidy nurse? Dirty creased scrubs, body odors, food stains, unkempt hair that just make our name look bad?

    Tell us your experience in comments below.

  3. Ever Late Nurses:

    These are common almost everywhere. You find this nurse who is always late to get the report. He/she may come on time but is always the last one to get the report. You find yourself walking around the unit looking for this nurse, only to find him/her away from what should be happening.Do you have any experience with ever late nurses?

  4. I forgot to do this and that every single time:

    Nursing is a 24-hour cycle and there is nothing like completing care. I get it but… there are nurses who seem to never get caught up with anything ever.

    You come in at the change of shift only for this nurse to tell you in report….I was supposed to give a unit of blood but I forgot…Could you do it for me, please?Of course, I will do it for the patient but that blood unit that was ordered 6 hours ago should have completed by now. These nurses always have a request to make to the oncoming shift nurse.Oh…I was supposed to do electrolyte replacement but I forgot…do you mind administering it for me?

  5. Cliquish Nurses:

    This is also very common and sometimes it might make you feel like a deer in front of headlights. You find nurses who always work same shifts, only interact among themselves and leaves everyone aside as if they don’t exist.These are energy draining nurses and not fun to work with. In American big city hospitals, this is very common.
    You find a unit where nurses are into small racial or ethnic cliques.You find there are shifts when a certain clique work and not the other.

    For example, You find one unit full of Filipino nurses on weeknights and Indian nurses on weekend nights. Shots fired!

    You find a unit where there is no diversity that you would expect to find in America. These cliquish nurses are just draining to work with. Make one feel as if you’re unwanted.

  6. Prejudiced Nurses:

    Oh boy… another shot fired but they are there. They have racial, religious, sexual or ethnicity prejudices.While human resources departments have rules and policies against such behaviors, there is no clear cut way of accusing someone of being prejudiced.

    Discrimination is bad and it hurts those being discriminated against.It is such a high school-like behavior that mature nurses in modern times should stay away from. This is also a form of bullying.Have you ever felt discriminated or disenfranchised? Please share your experience in comments below.

  7. Nurses who give enemas & suppositories at shift change:

    This is not funny! I know you know them. Patient have been constipated but just before giving the report, this nurse gives a suppository to the patient.…and in the report, they tell you they gave the suppository but no results yet.You walk into the room right after shift change when everyone is busy only to find a flood of poop.This is just wrong.

    Oh, and these constipation epiphanies happen right at shift change. SMH

  8. Ever on the Phone Nurse:

    Maybe I am an old-school nurse. The type that believes that you should never get into a patient room while talking on your cellphone. Old school to think that this is downright rude?

    I don’t think so. Just keep your nice new iPhone in your bag on vibrate and do not keep talking on your cell phone while at work. It’s even worse for anyone to enter the patient room while talking on your cellphone.

  9. The Sleepy Nurse:

    I get it especially in night shift feeling sleepy. But you need to sleep enough during the day so that you can take care of your patients at night. That is all I have to say about that.

    There are nurses who’d fall asleep especially on night shift and all you can hear is IV pumps alarming left and right. Let’s stay awake while at work and sleep when we get home. At least not making it a habit.

    Nurse Sleeping at Work


  10. Leaving Empty Pizza Boxes in the Break Room:

    This is one of those issues that just makes the whole shift look bad – whether you ate that pizza or not.You find several piles of empty pizza boxes in the break room that had been ordered by the previous shift.

    This break-room is for all of us… day and night shift. Not your mama kitchen. Keep it clean and enjoy your pizza.

    Empty Pizza Box


  11. The Smart Nurse who knows it all:

    These nurses are the most annoying to give a report to. They can make you feel like saying something.You go like…. Mr. Lungs came from the ER with a fever and blood gas showed a PH of 7.1

    ….without even finishing, the smart nurse goes like… “oh…that sounds like acidosis with a shift to the right… Have they questioned sepsis and done blood cultures X2 and started broad spectrum antibiotics?….you see…I am very good managing such cases…I even showed Doctor Mark something he never knew about”

    Okay…Please, smart nurse! Can I give my report please and I leave you to manage the patient?You know such nurses. Always out to prove how much they know. They will start teaching you what they think they know during report instead of listening to the report.Tell me you have worked with such a nurse.

  12. The Whiny Nurse:

    Always whining about something was done wrong to them. Always complain about their assignment the first half of the shift. These nurses spend more time complaining and whining than they spend taking care of their patients.…Oh… “I am the only one who gets isolation patients”… No, you are not. You just got a report from someone else. Stop the whining.You know them?

  13. The Facebook Charge Nurse:

    Some units have a free charge nurse policy primarily so that the charge nurse ca be available to help whoever needs help.

    There are nurses who sit all shift long doing the least they can just because they do not have a patient. That is unfortunate to even think about.

    You find a nurse literally drowning in chaos and this charge nurse is comfortably chit-chatting at the nurse’s station or on Facebook.

  14. The Unjust Charge Nurse:

    You may have one of these in your books. You know every time when this nurse is the charge nurse, you get the worst assignment possible in the unit.You know when this unjust charge nurse is on duty, all isolation assignment is yours.You have known this for a while but there is not so much you can do about it.This happens a lot to travel nurses and agency nurses but can also happen to staff nurses. It is so annoying.Have you ever found yourself in such a situation?

  15. Never Ready Enough Nurse:

    These are very common especially in in-patient settings. This nurse goes into the patient room to give a bath.Few minutes into it… he/she goes…. “Can someone get me soap please”? Excuse me…. Were you going to bathe a patient without soap?Here is the soap.Just before you tell yourself it was an accidental omission, she goes again… “Can someone get me a gown please”?

    This is just not right. We all forget but try to get ready for the task ahead of you. Stop dragging everyone around you in your disorganization empire.

  16. Conveniently have to go to the Bathroom:

    These nurses are just draining. They know how to avoid doing their job and making others do it.They will sit their patient on a bedpan and conveniently report to you…”I just sat Mr. XYZ on a bedpan but I got to run to the bathroom. Will you please listen out for the call light?

    This is something they have done over and over again and you know for sure it is a habit. As soon as they walk away to the convenient bathroom need, Mr. XYZ call bell goes off and he needs to be cleaned.Ever had this done to you? 

    Patient Bedpans


  17. Leaving Medicine Vials & Sharps Exposed:

    These nurses are dangerous and they are many. You walk into a patient room only to find used needles on the table.You find open medicine caps and blister packs inpatient bed.

    Used needles can be dangerous. Nurses have contracted blood-borne diseases from sharps left all over the place in patient rooms. No one wants to work with such a nurse or follow such a nurse.

    Where does this nurse work?


  18. The Messy Nurse:

    These nurses might be great in a lot of things. Keeping the room tidy is just something not in their DNA. You find expired IV tubings hanging all over the room. Dirty bedpan stuck in the trash can. Room wreaking of bad smell but they have done everything else to perfection.It is amazing that the core principles of cleanliness Florence Nightingale laid are still alive today. Such a nurse is never fun to work with.Never fun to get the report from. They are not the type Florence Nightingale described in her nursing foundation.

    Image Courtesy of Getty Images


  19. The Gossipers & Back Bitters:

    They are always talking smack about somebody. Any time you talk to them, they have something to say about someone – a coworker.

    They are always the righteous ones and sees bad things about other nurses. Their gossip appetite is high. They know too much about everyone and what they know is usually bad.Have you worked with them in your nursing experience?Share your experience. Just remember…the same way they are talking to you about someone else, the same way they will talk about you to someone else. Avoid entertaining gossipers.

    Never get into nursing gossip as a travel nurse


  20. Burnt Out Nurses:

    These are so tiring to work with. They work almost every day of their lives. They never rest. They are always angry and right at the edge.A small issue is enough to make them blow up like a volcano. They don’t seem to have any compassion left in their lives.They do the bare minimum to their patients. It is not uncommon to hear them say things like…. “They don’t pay me enough to do all that”. They contaminate others with negativity. They are never compliant.

    They are always walking into patients without washing hands or wearing the right personal protective equipment. They just do things opposite the rules and expectations.

    They can sit all shift long or most of the shift. They even confront or scold those who are doing the right thing. They only celebrate failures, not successes.

    When they hear someone is advancing or is becoming successful, their reaction is obviously jealous. They do not have so many good things to say about nursing in general. They are burnt out.

    They are ugly to new nurses and junior nursing staff in general. They fit every category of a nurse no one wants to work with.

Final Thoughts About Bad Nursing Habits:

Certainly, you must have come across these bad nursing habits in your career. They are much more than listed in this article.

You are encouraged to leave your comments below and help make nursing fun.

See yourself through the mirror as a nurse. Watch out for any of such habits that might annoy your peers and do something about it.

Some habits have a ripple effect. Example, a nurse who likes giving suppositories at shift change or leaves his patient dirty may feel like other nurses are talking bad about them. Be the change you want to see and we will all enjoy nursing.

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