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9 Hospital Pranks to Welcome New Nurses

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By Rozzette Cabrera, R.N.

We’ve all been there. And if you haven’t, well, kudos to you!

Pranks are not new. In fact, it’s considered as a part of most senior nurses’ welcoming tradition for the newbies to break the ice. While some of these pranks are downright hilarious, some of them can actually scare the life out of someone.

If you’re a veteran nurse looking for ways to welcome the younger ones or if you’re a new nurse about to be welcomed, here are some of the most commonly used medical pranks you should keep an eye out for.

Author’s note: Pranks should be harmless and all for good fun. 

1. The Blow-up Doll

New nurses aren’t as assertive as their senior nurses. If they see a patient lying in bed with his bed sheet pulled all the way up to his head, a new nurse can easily assume the patient is asleep, especially if the room is dark and quiet.

Set up a blow-up doll in one of the empty rooms in the floor. Tie the feet of the doll to the end of the bed to make sure it stays in place. To make it even more realistic, you can dress the doll in pajamas and cover his body with a clean sheet.

“Our senior nurse is very keen about details. He’s very strict when it comes to assessment, so he makes sure every new nurse knows how to get the job done correctly. During my first night shift, he asked me to check this “patient” who had been in pain all day. So, I went to the patient’s room to assess his pain scale. After calling the patient twice without any response, I decided to slightly remove the linen that was covering his face and body. I nearly collapsed when the “patient” suddenly “jumped” out from the bed”, a surgical ward nurse shared.

2. This Simple Trick

Give a list to a newbie to search for something like an endotracheal tube, gauze, and then add something at the end like a fallopian tube. If she doesn’t know her anatomy and physiology, she’ll take forever to get back to you!

fallopian tubes

3. The Classic Apple Juice Trick

To make it more convincing, warm it a little on a microwave.
To make it more convincing, warm it a little in a microwave.

“On one busy morning shift, my head nurse was extra generous to give me and my co-nurses a few glasses of juice for refreshment. Just as we were taking a sip, my head nurse gave out a sinister laugh and pulled out a half-empty urine bag from his back. The new nurse on the floor, who was standing next to me, turned pale as white and started gagging. Although we insisted it was apple juice, I didn’t think she was able to clearly hear us out”, said a 4-year ICU nurse.


4. The Purple Hand


The Purple Glove Syndrome is a complication of wrongful IV phenytoin administration.
The Purple Glove Syndrome is a complication of wrongful IV phenytoin administration.

This prank is feasible if you have a patient receiving phenytoin through an IV line. Take out a purple examination glove, blow it up and add minor details to it to make it look like a real hand. Attach it to your patient’s sleeve and position it where it can easily be seen. Call out your new nurse who have initiated the line and ask her why his patient’s hand is turning purple and swollen. You’re likely to see a very frightened face.

YouTube video

Before you use this prank, make sure to ask for your patient’s consent first. Although it’s for fun, you also have to consider your patient’s health status and preference.

5. This Lunch Box 

Freak everyone out who open your break room fridge with this lunch box. You can buy on here via Amazon.

human organ

6. The “Full House” Prank

“In our floor, we have this one good prank we play on every new nurse. We take out all of the empty charts and fill them with fictitious names and cases. Once the new nurse comes in, we’ll pretend to be very busy on the floor. Then, the CNAs and LPNs will call the nurse to tell her they won’t be able to clock in for work. Every reaction is priceless. I nearly fainted when they played it on me,” a female surgical ward nurse shyly admitted.

7. The Sticky Ear

telephone nurse

“I know the nurses on our hospital ward like to prank newcomers. I just didn’t know they’d do it to me, too. They called the OR one night to ask if there are any nurses available to help them out for the shift.

“Since there are no scheduled surgery that night, I volunteered. When I arrived in the area, they were all over the place, so I assumed they were very busy. One of the senior nurses called me and asked if I can phone someone from the laboratory to come to the floor. I obliged and then there it was: a huge glob of lube on my ear. I heard giggles right after and I’m confused for a minute before I finally get it,” a 6-year OR nurse shared.

8. Hospital Scare Prank


9. The Missing Instrument

The “missing instrument prank” is a classic among surgical nurses. Even surgeons like to play this prank.
The “missing instrument prank” is a classic among surgical nurses. Even surgeons like to play this prank.

“During my very first time to assist an actual surgery, I made sure I was very careful in counting the sponges, needles, and instruments. I had everything accounted for. However, during the final counting, there was one needle that went missing. I was recounting for the 7th time and this time a lot louder and panicked when I noticed the surgeon trying hard to hold back his laughter. It turned out he was still holding the needle,” a 3-year OR nurse said.

What other medical pranks have you experienced or played? How did you respond?

Rozzette Cabrera is a registered nurse pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a professional writer. She spent a few years putting her profession into practice until she decided to take her chances with freelance writing over a year ago. Her life has never been the same since then.

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