Unwritten rules of nursing they won’t tell you this whole list at university or TAFE so here it is for you. We encourage you to share this article with your colleagues and fellow students. You’ll probably read this list and agree with at least a few of them, if not all of them!

Check out other great articles here for junior nurses. Another great resource is Nurse & Midwife Support if you’re needing help

Unwritten Rules Of Nursing

Do as you say

Never ask a colleague to do something you wouldn’t do, especially when you get to a more senior role.

Take your Leave

Take your leave. Self-Care is NECESSARY in this profession.

Never say this

NEVER EVER EVER speak the word “Quiet” during your shift…EVER!!! Oh and stop saying it’s a “Slow” day. Inevitably, something horrible will happen because you said one of those words. Also, be extra cautious during full moons…you’ve been warned!

Drama with the team

No matter what “drama” might be going on, everyone comes together as a team and rocks it in an emergency!

Respect your team

You can’t do your job without them

Know it all, not

You ARE expected to ask questions when you are unsure. People’s lives are at stake.

Avoid saying “oops” in front of a patient

Instil trust and reduce fear or uncertainty by removing ‘oops’ from your bedside vocabulary when you make mistakes. Replace it with another word that is reassuring.

Don’t run!

Just walk fast. Even in a code.

Don’t feed them!

If a patient that isn’t yours is requesting a food/drink item, check with the nurse assigned to the patient to make sure that it’s OK first.

Refill it

Refill something if it’s running low, especially if you’re taking the last of something!

Don’t let it run dry

Don’t leave drips dry for the next shift. Give the oncoming shift time before their patient’s fluids run out. Especially in critical care as patients may experience severe consequences if fluids run out.

Don’t say that

Never disparage colleagues such as nurses or doctors in front of patients. (Or…how about never)


Don’t sit around and waste time when your coworkers are struggling. Pass their meds, answer their bells, help with wound care….whatever helps them catch up.

Leadership vs Title

Being a leader has nothing to do with a title or position!

Pause and be human

Take the time to talk with your patients, you find out more that way then by reading charts. Your day isn’t going down the tubs if you spend five minutes with a patient.

Someone else

Don’t wait for someone else to handle something. You are “someone else.”

Eating the young ones

Stop eating the young ones. Be a leader, an example, and be willing to teach them properly. Make them what you want to be

That’s my chair

Don’t sit in the admin or ward clerks chair


Be on time and don’t make the previous shift wait to go home because you are always late…

Believe them

If your patients says they feel like they’re going to die, believe them. Check and recheck everything.

Give respect to all levels

…AINs/PCA/HCAs, cleaners, doesn’t matter…without the teamwork of others…the heirarchy crumble. Thank your team after everyshift for working hard.

Names – use it

Many people aren’t fans of being called “sweetie, honey, darling etc”. They have a name, use it or at least ask them what they prefer.

Complacency and Confidence

Never get too confident or complacent. You never stop learning in this profession…be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

Leave your troubles

Leave your own troubles at the entrance, patients need a friendly face, pick them back up on your way home…


These are all great ideas but the first thing you need to know is CYA! Cover your a** at all times, cause nobody else is going too. Most times not your coworkers and dang sure not the facility.