The first day of a new job can be very intense. Having to learn everything, meeting new people, learning the layout of the place, there's a lot that goes into it. Even though it's the first day, that doesn't mean it will be easy. Just ask these healthcare workers.
Healthcare workers on Reddit share the most intense first day of work experiences. Content has been edited for clarity.
“I have a couple from the Army: Surgical tech training and first day on the job.
1: first day at Ft Sam Houston, after basic training. They take all the new medical MOS recruits and sat us in at the post theater. They played 4-5 hours of full color Vietnam era meatball medicine. We had to watch it all. If anyone puked or ran out, they got kicked out of the medical corps and assigned some terrible regular Army job.
So this amounted to hours of footage of field medics patching wounds while the patient was screaming, amputations with no anesthesia, guts being put back in, faces blown half off, guys trying to put their own arms back on while the medic frantically tried to stop the bleeding of the stub. Full-grown men bleeding out and crying for their moms while their battle buddy cradles them, guys with their uniforms and half their skin burned off trying to walk around and pat patches of their own skin back on in shock.. guys whose buddies had been blown up, and their buddy’s bones impaled them like shrapnel. If they were lucky they were in a CSH or MASH, with blood-soaked docs and nurses trying to stitch them back together so they could survive a plane ride to a real hospital.
The Cadre NCOs were all watching everyone and if you covered your eyes, puked or ran out, you were out of med corps.
Yeah, it affected me. Made a lot of people puke and run out. Probably 1/3 of the room failed that test. The hardest part for me wasn’t the blood and guts, it was watching the men cry for their moms while bleeding out.
So, once the first part of my training was done, the book and practice surgical training, I got sent to Letterman Army Medical center to start the practical part of the training: real surgery assisting real doctors. I got assigned to the tonsil removal room, which is pretty slow-pitch stuff. They had like ten kids lined up for tonsil removal that day. However, the procedure itself is sort of barbaric. Tonsils get ripped out with a wire looped around it, it’s pretty barbaric even to this day. So our first patient was a 8-year-old boy. Totally routine procedure. They pulled the first tonsil out of him and unbeknownst to anyone, he had some sort of congenital difference with his carotid artery position. it was too close to the tonsil and they pulled a little piece of it off with the tonsil. He made it about another 30 seconds, but there was simply no possible way to get ahead of that artery. It was an unholy mess on everyone.
So ya, some pretty intense first days as an ORT.”
Good Thing They Noticed
“My first day of hospital clinicals in nursing school was pretty intense. It was a pretty easy start to the day; I got assigned a COPD patient in his early 80s, and he wasn’t supposed to have much going on that day besides a CT scan. After going through his chart and doing an initial assessment, I helped take him down to CT. The machine required him to lay flat on his back (which is harder on patients in late stages of COPD than sitting up), with his arms raised. He was hooked up to oxygen the whole time so the tech assumed he’d be okay.
Once we left and got back to our floor, we both simultaneously noticed the guy was gasping for air, and his lips were turning blue. We hurried him back to the room, call a code, and watch as this guy goes into respiratory arrest (he was just a tech and I was just a student, so we really hadn’t been trained for this).
Help arrives, and my patient’s actual nurse is nowhere to be found, so nobody in the room besides me knows anything about this guy. So I had to fill the doctor leading the emergency response in on all of this guy’s information and the situation, which was terrifying. And all during this, my clinical instructor kept walking by the room making weird, goofy faces at me.
The guy lived, but wow what a way to start clinicals.”
What’s The Joke?
“Was volunteering at a hospital in high school in the cardiology ward for kids. I get introduced to the nursing staff, and one of the nurses takes me into a room with an infant that had recently had heart surgery. Told me to hold her and pat her back, as she was just fed.
I sit down, she hands me the baby and I start patting her back. I’m not super comfortable holding the baby as it’s the only baby I’ve ever held that wasn’t family. She leaves me and tells me to hit the red button if anything happens.
Things are going great. The baby is comfy on my shoulder, and I’m thinking there’s nothing to it. After about 10 minutes of this, all of a sudden the baby starts convulsing! I freak out thinking the baby is having a seizure and hit the red button like crazy. The nurse comes running in and asks what’s wrong and I tell her that the baby is having a seizure! She swoops in and grabs the baby takes a look and starts laughing.
I’m getting the freak out sweats and this the nurse is laughing? I’m not getting the joke. The nurse then explains to me that the baby had the hiccups!
A relief, but what a first day!”
A Lot In A Day
“I work in hospital security. Once I started full time they specifically put me on this watch because I had been pretty successful so far as a part-time guard. First day, I’m on a one to one watch for a severely autistic female, she’s pretty cool (honestly still one of my favorite patients to this day) and she needs a shower, no big deal right?
Because of the extent of her condition, she was completely unable to clean herself, and on top of that because she was known to get aggressive during showers (it’s a lot of stimulus and autistic individuals are prone to getting overwhelmed) so I needed to physically restrain her during the shower.
So we get things sorted and I’m in the shower completely gowned up, nothing prepared me for what I was about to see and smell.
She was completely covered in excrement and also happened to be on her menses, creating a horrifying mix of pee, poop, and blood that had to be washed from her by the helper.
While I, a 5’8, 130lbs female was restraining a 5’2, 250lbs female while the helper is literally just scraping poop off of her.
I’m used to bad smells, I had been working part-time for six months at least twice a week in a hospital. This, made me lose my lunch, I threw up in the respirator but had to finish the call with tears in my eyes because if I had let go the patient would have clawed the helper.
So we’re finally done, I ripped off all of my PPE and I still can’t get rid of the smell, there’s various bodily fluids all over my boots and pants. At that point I almost went home sick after losing the rest of my lunch throwing up in a trash can, but I toughed it out and just dealt with it. It’s at that point I noticed my gloves had been torn and that I had been scratched pretty badly.
Because my patient was locked in a room 99% of the time, I got to walk around freely in the unit when she was in her room. One patient, who we’ll call ‘Beth,’ hated security (I can’t blame her, some of us are really awful people) and got agitated just at the sight of a guard. She was 6’1 and 200lbs of solid muscle, she had broken a guard’s nose and was known to become hostile pretty easily. I was a bit cautious around her just because of her history but talked to her like I do any other patient, but I completely messed up when I took a single step back.
She flipped the heck out, no warning and swung on me. I had never dealt with a patient acting like that and immediately tried to deescalate, but she just kept hitting me. Once all of the nursing staff was locked in the nursing station (all of the patients were locked in their rooms in that unit, only one patient could come out at a time), I locked myself in as well and called a code. While I was waiting for backup to arrive, she picked up the chair I had been sitting in and threw it directly at the glass walled nursing station, thankfully it just bounced off but it’s still terrifying.
Once back up arrives she had to go in full restraints, next thing I know I’m up on the hospital bed using my knees to hold down her shoulders while I’m trying to keep her from biting my coworkers.
Finally, everything is done and over. I spent the next 6 hours of that shift wondering what the heck I had just gotten myself into.
Two weeks later my hand is inflamed and pretty infected, went to the doctor and had sepsis from the scratches on my hand. I still have permanent scars on my left hand from that.”
“Shook Me To My Core”
“First day of my EMT clinicals, and I’m sitting in some parking lot really excited for my first call with a 911 out of Los Angeles. Waited for about three hours, and we finally get a call. It’s an unknown, so we end up getting to this residential in some neighborhood and we’re the first on scene, cool no problem.
I’m the first one through the door while the two other EMT’s get the stretcher and code kit following behind me. I’m standing in these peoples living room who I’ve never met before, and outcomes this guy holding a blue three-month old girl, and I just stood there frozen. Can’t really describe what it felt like, but I can tell you it shook me to my core for a second. Training kicked in and thankfully the more experienced EMT’s took control. Soon after, the paramedics showed up and ran the code. The baby didn’t end up making it.
Whole call lasted about 15 minutes probably, but felt like an eternity. Huge respect for the Paramedic who lead the call that day. Telling a mother and father that their baby isn’t going to see her first birthday has got to be the worst part of the job. Took a lot for me not to cry, and all I had to do was stand there and try not to get in the way. Watching the mother pull the intubation tubes out of her lifeless daughters nose will probably stick with me for a while, along with how pretty the little girl’s hair was. It was brown and surprisingly long for someone as young as her.
It seemed crazy to me how we were just supposed to continue our day after that and pretend everything was ok. I remember ordering food at a fast food joint 30 minutes later thinking what the heck just happened. Before I knew it, I was on my way to the next call. Just gotta suck it up and continue working I guess. I was 19 at the time and I like to think a lot of me grew up that day. Huge respect to all men and women in EMS who suck it up every day and put the patient first.”
Someone Should Be Fired
“Reported in to my first 12-hour shift at a mental hospital on the adolescent floor. Guy that was supposed to train me called out, and I was left alone watching a large group of violent, mentally unstable teenagers. I went home bruised, battered, and with two new scars that day. If my friend hadn’t gotten me the job, I would have sued.”
Good Thing They Missed
“I did in home healthcare for the disabled. First day, meet my person who was one on one care with myriad health and mental illness. I was told my patient was occasionally violent, but really was a sweet soul and it was more like a tantrum for attention. My trainer left the house for a few minutes to run to the store. I was in the home office talking with the patient who was drinking tea. I turned my back to get something off the desk and look up when I felt a breeze.
It was a ceramic mug thrown at the back of my head, past my ear, and smashed to bits on the wall. Happened so fast I laughed and said something snarky like ‘whoa good arm.’
Patient freaked out and screamed until the other staff got back. I had to stay relaxed and show no fear, but make sure they were safe and me too. I did not turn my back again. Worked with them for three years. Still makes me laugh a bit, but heck of a first day”
A Lot For A Kid
“I volunteered at a nursing home when I was in high school. Just the one next to my house, by myself, not a school group or anything. I was told that my job would be social in nature, just a helping hand and talking to the residents who often didn’t have visitors of their own.
My first day there, I was immediately assigned to the ‘special care’ unit. In a nursing home, this meant the ones who had dementia and other such mental conditions. Was in the room with a lady who kept banging her hands on the table, and then tried to follow me out since they didn’t know the passcode and weren’t allowed out. Found out later from my supervisor that something went awry after a blunt-force trauma to the head incident.
Was kind of lot for a 16-year old, since that wasn’t what I was expecting to do.”
“Sure, No Biggie”
“Care giver at a senior home here. Had my co-worker come to me, and ‘Ruth’ was puking in a woman’s room on her chair. She told me and my coworker to go and clean her up, and she would clean the puke up.
I said ‘Sure, no biggie’ (I’d rather deal with poo then puke).
Well, we were taking this lady to her room to change her into a night dress. All the while she was continuously puking into a napkin we got her to hold. She made it to the room, and my coworker and I proceeded to undress her. At this point, she was puking in a bowl. We have a device called a sit stand where it’s a harness that goes around the abdomen and has loops that go underneath the residents arms. This hooks up to a machine with outstretched handles they hold onto and it stands them up.
We put her on this my coworker was working the controls so this lady was puking towards her. I was behind her going to remove the wheel chair. We stood her up and I removed her pants to be greeted by poop flying out like an erupting volcano, splashing all over the wheel chair, floor and wall. I somehow managed to ninja dodge it all. The smell of this explosive diarrhea then made her power puke. This went on for 30 minutes before we got her to bed eventually and took an hour to clean everything up.”
They Didn’t Have The Right Number
“Three months into being an intern doctor my first day at a new hospital in the surgical ICU.
Things were going okay, so the senior people left for the day once all their work was done. At night when the night intern came on (also first day there at new hospital), I was trying to show them how the computer system works and tell them about the patients they’re going to take care of overnight.
About 10 minutes into our sign out, the phone rings and they’re bringing a new patient to the unit. It was a loaded weapon shot wound to the head, and the patients blood pressure was 70/30. Chaos ensues for the next hour or two, trying to figure out how to stabilize the patient and how everything works at this new hospital. Luckily more senior people end up showing. Patient ends up stabilizing, but brain-dead over the next weeks, so family decides to donate organs and save many other lives.
From that night on, whenever I left junior people to take care of patients, the first thing they get is the appropriate number to call and instructions how to get help if needed.”
“Like A Scene From TV”
“First day of clinical rotation as a health unit coordinator at a small emergency department. Health unit coordinators answer phones, page physicians, order supplies, keep charts in order, and generally keep everything and everyone at the nurses station organized.
Anyway, first day. A gentleman comes in with tightness in his chest. He’s put into a room, hooked up to the heart monitor, blood drawn, EKG done, and waiting for test results. Staff goes about their business, they’re short-staffed and I assure them I can handle telephones by myself.
I’m at the desk, watching the heart monitor as everyone is doing their thing. The gentleman’s heart rate starts to pick up, and the shape of the waves change to look like fireman’s hats.
‘Uh, that doesn’t look good’ I say, as the alarms go off.
Nurses come to look at the monitor. ‘Is that real?’ they say, and then they take off running.
By the time they get in the room, he’s moved to v-tach. Then as they try to fix that, it turns to v-fib, and compressions begin. People are barking orders at me to call the cardiologist, get the cardiac cath lab on the line, and call the ambulance to transport (the small hospital didn’t have the facilities for cardiac catheterization). I have a phone in each hand, the cardiologist saying to get that patient to the cath lab at the hospital down town 10 minutes ago, the other phone is the ambulance service saying they can’t get a crew to us for 30 minutes. Patient is still down, in v-fib and CPR continues.
Doctor says ‘I don’t care how you get him here, just do it now.’
So standing in the emergency department, I call 911 and get a firetruck to come and pick up this patient and get him to the cath lab at the other hospital. It felt like a scene from one of those medical dramas on TV. They were still doing compressions on the patient as they loaded him into the firetruck that hauled butt to the other hospital. Miraculously, that guy lived.
That was my first day on the job. Second day was even crazier,”
A Truly Heartbreaking
“I was an Emergency Room Technician, I make the Nurses (and Doctors) job easier. I was 20 years old at the time of this story.
It was 7am and a Trauma Alpha is called. All these people from all of the different departments are gathering, it seems fairly daunting. It is almost like a party. Folks are just milling around wanting to know what is coming in.
The EMS doors open, and there are two stretchers, one has a little girl maybe two or three on it and she is crying, bloody and bruised. Another stretcher has a little boy same age (come to find they were twins); however he is intubated (breathing tube) and the Paramedic is using a Bag Valve to breath for the child.
Come to find out – these kids were annoying their father for breakfast and he didn’t like that, so he beat them.
The girl, all in all, was fine – she did have a broken arm and several bruises and lacerations. But, the boy’s heart had stopped and there I was doing CPR on a three-year-old. It was a war zone basically or so it seemed, rather the only thing maybe even remotely relatable.
That boy died because of blunt force trauma to his head – he was three-years-old – That was my first day on the job.
Nothing like putting a baby in a body bag.”
“The Cops Weren’t Sympathetic”
“My first day as an EMT trainee, my second call ever, was for a cab driver that got shot in the head. I was supposed to be mostly ‘hands off,’ but I ended up manning the bag-valve-mask to keep him breathing (he was snoring when we got there, so something was still working upstairs). The doctors at the local hospital said he was brain-dead, but he was an organ donor, so we took him out lights and sirens to the level one trauma center half an hour away, again me doing the breathing for him.
We dropped him off there and after cleaning the ambulance, we called in to return to our area. But about a minute into driving we got rerouted for a self-inflicted wound to the member. It was some kid running from the cops who put a loaded weapon in his waistband and it went off. He was on the ground howling, the cops weren’t sympathetic, and this time I did my first official patient lift. I got the foot end of the lift, so I got some balls blood on me. The cops wouldn’t let us take him from the scene until he told them where he threw the weapon.
We got some coffee after that call and immediately after clearing we got a call for what ended up being a heart attack. My training officer called me ‘Storm Clouds’ and insisted that I was a bad luck charm.”
“My Mom Looked Horrified”
“I went to work as a receptionist for a hospital’s physical therapy department when I was 16. My mom worked there. On my first day, before paperwork could be signed, I had to take a narcotics test. My mom walked down to the lab with me. No problem, I pee in the cup, the nurse sticks the pH strip in there, and the strip immediately turns bright pink. The nurse has never seen this color! She can’t find anything in her book indicating what substance was in my system. She had to contact Human Resources and my new boss to discuss what would happen. My poor mom looked horrified and embarrassed.
Meanwhile, the strip was sent to the lab, who were nice enough to run a quick test.
Turns out, I had a truly terrible UTI, to the point where I needed a quick course of antibiotics through IV followed by a long course of horse pill antibiotics. I literally had no idea there was a problem– I had mild UTIs on a fairly regular basis back then, so I probably had one, drank a few glasses of cranberry juice, and called myself good when I wasn’t.
Anyway, I started work the next week instead and now we keep cranberry juice in the house just in case anyone needs a narcotics test.”