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8 Reasons Why Your Nurse Best Friends Are Just the Best!

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By Frieda Paton, M.Cur, RN

You know your nurse best friend is like no other. Did you know that nurse besties increase your resilience, reduce your stress levels and protect you from nurse burnout? If you agree with the reasons why your nurse best friend is so valuable tag her and give her a shout-out or tell a story about your friendship.

We nurses just know that there’s nothing like having a nurse best friend at work. You know that every day she’s got your back in many ways.

A nurse bestie is that one true friend where the friendship extends further than work – you know and care about each other’s personal lives and sometimes even get together and share experiences outside of work. You connect at a deep level, know each other inside out, care about one another and accept and appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Your day is brightened up instantly if you know she’s is also on the team that day.

Have you ever wondered why a nurse best friend is like no other? Here are some of the reasons – and they’re actually supported by research!

1. Nurse best friends understand what you’re going through

You might have many people in your support network who aren’t nurses– your partner, family members, and other friends. But they could never really understand what you’re going through in the tough world of nursing. Every day, nurses witness and work with experiences that most people can’t even imagine.

Your nurse friend can truly relate because she’s been there too – whether it’s being covered in body fluids, a demanding patient or relative, a death that touches you deeply, a crisis or the workload that’s putting your head in a spin, or issues with other co-workers or management.

2. Nurse best friends support you emotionally 

We all know that nursing is one of the most emotionally demanding jobs. Combined with the work pressures of the job nurses have to interact for 8-12 hours a day with patients and their relatives, as well as all the other members of the health team.

The nurse best friend provides emotional and social support in many small ways throughout the day. They’re there to listen when you need to vent and blow off steam before you explode – and you know they’ll understand and won’t judge or think you’re whining. They care and they offer comfort when they know you’re going through a rough time – at home or at work. They’re a shoulder to cry on and often help you to get things back into perspective with a bit of advice, a joke, or even take you out for a drink after work.

A meme showing three nursing students hugging each other with a meme caption: Nursing School Friends: See You At Yoour Worst, But Accept You Unconditionally Anyways

Nurse best friends are a buffer against stress and burnout. They improve your job satisfaction, support your mental health and, by implication, also your physical health. This has been confirmed in a research study which found that nurses who reported strong connections with close friends at work were less likely to suffer from stress, depression, and burnout.

3. Nurse best friends build your self-esteem 

You know those days when things go wrong and you think that you’re just the most useless nurse ever? Your nurse friend comes along, gives you a quick hug and says a few kind words like “Don’t be so hard on yourself – you’re a good nurse”.

Love it when you can trust your nurse friends!
Love it when you can trust your nurse friends!

She might encourage you by reminding you of your strengths or help you to see that the situation really isn’t your fault. When you know that someone values you, it’s difficult not to feel better about yourself.

4. You can trust them 

You can share things with your nurse friend – even personal matters – and know that she’ll support and not judge you. Mutual trust is a key characteristic of close friendships, allowing for honest, open and self-disclosing communication. You know that what you share with her in confidence will stay between the two of you, that she won’t blab to someone else and possibly get you into trouble. You can also trust that any advice she gives you, or if she tells you that you’re are out of line, it will be in your own best interests.

5. They make you laugh

Nurses are known for their dark humor – jokes about things that make outsiders shudder. Jokes about what we had to clean up, difficult patients, incessant call bells, or doctors’ and supervisors’ weird behaviors. Through gallows humor, we are able to cope with the stress at work because it distracts you for a moment and releases the tension. Laughter even lowers your blood pressure!

Nurse Dark Humor Meme
And you laugh at their gross jokes!

And it’s often your nurse best friend who knows when to come up with a funny line just when you need it most or knows when it’s time for goofing around a bit. Because you’re so close you also share unique humor, coming up with jokes that no-one else gets – which makes it even funnier.

6. They think like you do

Nurse close work friendships develop when people discover that they have shared interests, beliefs, and values. Your nurse best friend and you share the same world view and you value the same things. That’s why she gets what you’re about and can support you so well. It also explains why you can also work together like a well-oiled machine and sometimes not even having to communicate verbally with each other.

7. They teach you things

On a more practical level, your nurse best friend can be a teacher and a mentor. You might be unsure of something at work and will be less worried about asking your friend to refresh your knowledge because you know she won’t judge you. Your nurse friends are also there for you when you need guidance or to discuss how to tackle a problem whether at work or at home.

When you find the most brilliant, accomplished nurse mentor. I wil follow her. Nurse meme
A friend and a mentor?! Lucky!

We’ve all had different work and life experiences and nurse best friends learn from each other daily – sharing knowledge and ideas. They help you to be a better nurse! 

8. They pitch in when you’re overloaded

Last but not least, nurse best friends will come along and offer their help with actual nursing tasks when you really need it. This might be at that point when you’re so overloaded that you’re in a spin and don’t know what to tackle next. Your friend could come along, assess the situation and suggest that you carry on with charting and med rounds and she’ll take the pending admission off of your hands.

An eCard saying "nursing friendships are a different kind of love, like, I'll hold the ass cheeks while you clean the ass crack kinda love!"
This kind of nurse friendship!

Or she might take over your duties when she knows you’re in a bad place emotionally to give you the break you need to get yourself together. She could even offer to take over your shift when she knows that you need time off to deal with a personal problem.

Value your nurse best friend at work

With all the caring support she gives you daily – emotionally, mentally and physically – your nurse best friend has probably stopped you a few times from packing your stuff and running. And, after all, if you change jobs you won’t have her around anymore to protect your back.

Don’t have a nurse best friend at work? Don’t be afraid of getting close to another person at work. Chat and reach out to others – you might just discover that one person you can relate to and who shares your interests, values, and beliefs – but keep in mind that true friendships take time to develop.

And always remember that friendship is a two-way thing! Be the best friend you can be in return!

8 Reasons Why Your Nurse Best Friends Are Just the Best!
8 Reasons Why Your Nurse Best Friends Are Just the Best!
Frieda Paton is a registered nurse with a Master’s degree in nursing education. Her passion for nursing education, nursing issues and advocacy for the profession were ignited while she worked as an education officer, and later editor, at a national nurses’ association. This passion, together with interest in health and wellness education since her student days, stayed with her throughout her further career as a nurse educator and occupational health nurse. Having reached retirement age, she continues to contribute to the profession as a full-time freelance writer. In the news and feature articles she writes for Nurseslabs, she hopes to inspire nursing students and nurses on the job to reflect on the trends and issues that affect their profession and communities - and play their part in advocacy wherever they find themselves.

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