30 smells only a nurse can relate to

Nurses encounter many sights and sounds during their shift, but they also encounter quite a few smells, as well. Some of these may be smells that are helpful in patient care, but some of them may simply be ones that are noticed in passing.

As nurses, we are taught to use our five senses when assessing patients, but we should use our five senses when experiencing life. The next time you go through your shift, see what smells you can identify.

1. The harsh smell of C-diff

2. The fruity smell of DKA

3. Patients in need of a complete bed change

4. Freshly brewing coffee

5. Somebody microwaving popcorn on the unit

6. The oily reek of someone who hasn’t washed in a while

7. The sharp tang of an alcohol pad

8. The no smell of a sterile glove set

9. The slightly nauseating smell of oxygen when you put on a cannula

10. Donuts in the break room in the morning . . . ah!

11. The antiseptic smell of hospital soap

12. The refreshing scent of a cleaned patient room after housekeeping has left

13. New linen smell

14. The horrid mixtures of smells that linger in the dirty utility room

15. The iron smell of blood when a patient splits their head open after a fall

16. The lingering smell of code brown that just won’t leave the unit

17. The soft, cottony smell of some little old ladies

18. New baby smell after they have been washed, cleaned, and swaddled

19. The starch of a clean lab coat

20. Your own clean sweat from running around the floor

21. The plastic smell of a foley catheter kit

22. The smell of something rotting in the unit refrigerator

23. The unfortunate and nauseating smell of vomit

24. The warm smell of reams of paper coming off the printer

25. The questionably appetizing smell of food from the cafeteria

26. The overpowering smell of some hot shot doctor’s cologne

27. The smell of your sandwich as you ram it down your throat on your “break”

28. The harsh, concentrated smell of your own urine at the end of your shift

29. The smell of the wind when you finally make it out of your facility

30. The smell of home.

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