10 things probably only people who work in hospitals would understand

Linda Le Phan

Whether you’re thinking about starting a career in healthcare or already do, you should know that working in a healthcare profession – especially in the hospital setting – comes with a lot of unique experiences and inside knowledge that could be good, bad, fun, funny and / or annoying. Some of these unique things actually contribute to what makes working in hospitals interesting!

Here are 10 things that probably only hospital workers would understand – hopefully you’ll nod your head in agreement, have a little laugh about it, or get some sort of amusement out of this. We could all use a laugh every now and then, but especially hospital workers do!:

The hopper

Not to be confused with the chopper, the hopper is a square toilet-like apparatus used for rinsing bodily fluids out of bedding and clothing. Although it’s messy and the spray-off can be a little repulsive, it’s powerful and highly effective in getting less-than-desirable things out of less-than-desirable places (and let’s be honest – all the moms wish they had one at home).

“I like that a lot of the people I work with try to have a good time at work and I love the exposure I get to the healthcare field while working in a hospital. It is very fast paced.” – anonymous employer review at St Lukes

The q-word

If you’ve even once said the “q-word” (we can’t say it but it’s spelled like this: q-u-i-e-t) in a hospital, you’ve had your had slapped enough times to know better next time. Hospital workers know that uttering the q-word out loud when things on the floor seems slow or too calm for comfort is asking for trouble. So if you notice a q-word moment, simply sit back and enjoy it without commenting on it, because chances are once you say “wow, it’s quiet in here”…something will happen that’ll turn that all around, fast!

Code brown

In some places, code brown refers to inclement weather like a tornado or dust storm, but in hospitals, code brown refers to a bad, bad situation involving a bowel movement that did not reach the intended target.

Low census

Ah, low census; the epitome of mixed emotions. Imagine crawling out of bed – much to the dismay of your brain and body that are still half asleep – and forcing yourself to show up for a long, slow shift…only to find out you’ve been given the day off since there are more than enough people on the shift for the amount of patients. OH HAPPY DAY! But wait…you don’t get paid for this day off.

Decoding scribbles

Trying to make sense of a scribble on a sheet of paper is the name of the game on the floor and in the pharmacy. While technology has solved some of the problems associated with notorious doctors’ handwriting, some physicians are still faithful to the old prescription pad.

“Working in a hospital you get to be a part of a great community helping people and saving lives.” – anonymous employer review at Jackson Memorial Hospital – Miami

The full moon

We don’t care what research shows: the full moon is accompanied by total and complete chaos in a hospital. Volumes skyrocket and weird things happen…every single time.

The Vicks trick

Healthcare workers are exposed to some pretty terrible smells ranging from body odor to vomit to gangrenous tissue and more. One of the oldest tricks in the book, used from housekeeping to ER docs, is the Vick’s VaporRub-under-the-nose trick. It doctors up almost any smell to prevent, well, more vomiting.

The off-duty requests

Anybody who works in a hospital, including the accountant, will tell you that when they get home friends, family members, acquaintances, neighbors, and strangers ask things like, “You work at the hospital right? What’s this oozing from my chin? Or, I think I have a rash…what should I do? Have you ever seen anything like that before?”

The 3-day workweek experience

Nurses and other healthcare professionals work weekends, holidays, and overnights, which can be a real drag. What makes this crazy schedule slightly more bearable for some is the three-day work week that accompanies 12-hour shifts; it’s something that is pretty standard in hospitals (and in other healthcare settings) and something to love or loath, depending on where you are in the week!

“Working in a hospital can be challenging, but also can be very rewarding. This field of work is truly what you make it.” – anonymous employer review at Highlands Hospital

The no-boss shift

Very few industries can advertise the luxury of a no-boss option, but in healthcare, nearly every patient-care department has the elusive, glorious no-boss shift also known as the night shift, when personal devices and questionable jokes can come out to play…and most of the time it even comes with incentive pay.



If you enjoyed reading about working in healthcare and want to read more about it, check out our other articles about the healthcare industry! Or better yet, take a peak at any of the thousands of hospitals and healthcare companies that people have reviewed on our kununu.com


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