How Humor Can Help Nurses


I’ve long been a believer that humor can help heal. In this guest post, Heather Green shares how humor can help important healers in our culture: nurses.


smiling nurseHumor can be the best medicine. Humor can make us feel better, it can improve our mood, and it can even impact our overall health. Therefore, nursing and humor make ideal bed fellows. Nurses can use humor to help themselves and help their patients, making the job easier and helping patients to feel better.

Here are just a few of the ways that using humor can help nurses:

Manage Stress

Nursing–and any healthcare profession–is highly stressful. Patients demand the impossible, doctors lash out in anger and frustration, and everyone wants answers NOW. Every move that nurses make can have an impact on the life or death of a patient. Those are some high stakes!

Nurses can alleviate some of this pressure by having a good laugh. They can also help process their emotions about difficult encounters with doctors and patients, their performance on the job, or even losing a patient. Humor won’t solve any of these problems–but it can help diffuse tension and help nurses feel a little better.

Foster Relationships with Patients

Humor has a great way of bringing people together. People who speak different languages, have different religions, or come from different socio-economic backgrounds can all find the same things funny.

Nurses have to foster relationships with their patients so they trust the nurses and feel comfortable in receiving the care they need. Humor is a great way to reach out to patients and build that relationship.

Of course, humor can also be divisive if not used properly. Nurses should be careful not to make inappropriate jokes or to use offensive language. Timing is also important. If a nurse or other caregiver is always cracking jokes or is doing so at inappropriate moments, the patient may lose confidence and think that the nurse isn’t taking her job seriously.

Help Patients to Heal

Numerous studies have shown the healing power of laughter. Humor can help patients navigate their recovery better, and it can even improve their physical well-being. (Remember that movie Patch Adams? A doctor created a whole philosophy around using humor to heal patients.)

Nurses can find ways to inject humor into their day when they are directly dealing with patients. It will help to improve outcomes for patients and brighten their mood. Again, good judgment is necessary to know what kind of jokes are appropriate and when.

Nurses and Humor

Nurses have a high-stress job with high stakes. Humor can help to alleviate that tension and to improve the experience for patients, including helping them to heal more quickly. Funny pictures, jokes, quips, and even funny voices or puppets can all help to inject a little more humor into the day and make everyone feel better.

Are you a nurse who uses humor on the job? Tell us about how it helps you in the comments!

Heather Green is a mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for, a free informational website offering tips and advice about online medical assisting degrees and physical therapy aide  programs.

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