Do you engage in a little bit of petty theft where you work? I don’t. (That’s what you should say if anyone ever asks you that in real life). But you probably really do. And this is probably what you steal:
1. Juice, Milk, Crackers, and even Ensure. It seems like every facility has these “nutritional staples” to appease the snacky patients. Well, patients aren’t the only snacky ones around. There is nothing like downing an ice cold juice cup after running yourself sweaty at work! And yes, sometimes the Ensure if you’re desperate.
2. Hospital Socks. You know those non-slip socks? Aren’t they great? They are thick, warm, colorful, and…non-slip! And they match your tacky holiday sweaters. Why wouldn’t you snatch one?
3. Alcohol Pads. This you just can’t help. They are ubiquitous, always in your pockets, and really handy! I use them to clean small things that too many people touch – keyboards, phone screens, mouse buttons etc. They’re also great to wipe those permanent marker smudges that seem to get everywhere.
4. Gloves. Always useful as well. If you’ve gotten in the habit of packing extra gloves in your scrubs (disclaimer: not recommended!), you’ll always have some riding home in your pockets too.
5. Pens. Well, everyone steals these.
6. Tape. Paper tape! Silk tape! Plastic tape! There are rolls and rolls of it and it is good tape. It sticks to things and makes other things stick to other things really well. None of that cheap school-grade Scotch for us nurses – it’s hospital-grade we want!
7. Earplugs. Yes, earplugs, if you work in a nice enough facility that offers these to patients. The handly little bullets shrink, stick in your ears, and expand for blissful silence.
8. Handheld Thermometers. I’ve never snatched one of these – and I don’t know of anyone who has. But they always seem to go missing. One can only assume someone is taking them home. Stop it. Whoever you are.
9. The Occasional Controlled Substance. This is not stealing per se. But if you work as a nurse long enough, you will eventually have a medication hitchhike home with you on the bottom of your pocket. If you’re unlucky it would be a controlled substance. But it does happen!
10. Laughs! Stealing laughs – yes, we do that. Nobody is immune – doctors, patients, administration – we’ll laugh at them, yes we will! And we will give each other knowing glances as we pass each other in the hallways. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Kevin Pan is an RN and this article was in no way based on personal petty thefts in the workplace. He is now the President of Brilliant Nurse, a fresh approach at NCLEX Prep.