5 Superstitions In Nursing

Aug 25, 2020 | Aussie Nurse

Rafael “Rafa” Nadal is a professional tennis player who has set of actions that form his ritual during a game of tennis, his level of competitiveness is speculator to watch. 

Nadal’s ritual’s are always on open display- 

“It is something you start to do that is like a routine. When I do these things it means I am focused, I am competing – it’s something I don’t need to do but when I do it, it means I’m focused” – Rafael Nadal

In everyday life many people have strong rituals that may be seen as superstitions, for example –

  • The number 13, Friday the 13th is seen as the most cursed day of the calendar and people may avoid participating in activities on this day i.e. avoiding buying a house on this date
  • Black cats have been looked at as symbols of evil omens and if a black cat crosses a persons path, it is a forewarning of misfortune
  • Accidentally breaking a mirror may bring bad luck for seven years as the mirror is not just reflecting a persons appearance it also represents a persons soul too. When a person brakes the mirror, it damages their soul which brings on misfortune
  • Walking under ladders, this superstition was believed by ancient Egyptians about 5000 years ago that ladders formed a triangle shape. Apparently walking under a ladder that is leaning against a wall will break the formation of the triangle and may cause bad luck
  • Opening an umbrella indoors away from the sun rays may “rain” bad luck on you as it is an insult to the Egyptian Sun God- ‘Ra’ 

To bring good fortune people may carry a rabbit foot, specifically the left hind foot of the rabbit. Or even touching wood/knocking on wood is an ancient belief that is based on that good spirits lived in trees, so by knocking on something wooden a person was calling on the spirits for protection.

Superstition is part of the poetry of life

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Definition of Superstition –

(noun): a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superstition)


5 Superstitions That Nurses Believe In – 

  1. When a person passes away, it used to be common to open a window – when I began nursing it was well known that this allows the soul to leave the building and allow the soul to take its path. Nowadays, this is now more difficult as many windows in hospital windows cannot be opened
  1. The ‘Q’ word- saying to a nurse the day is ‘Quiet’ is offensive and is totally prohibited. When the ‘Q’ is used chaos and mayhem will suddenly take over, everyone wants the work day to run smoothly- so don’t say the ‘Q’ word!!
  1. Spirit type activity in particular parts of the building, it is well known by nurses that when a room is empty lights may come on or other paranormal activities with objects suddenly moving happen. Many nurses (especially night nurses) have several stories of unusual happenings of ghosts or spirits
  1. Some hospitals wards do not have the room number 13 as this number is seen as unlucky and this room number may be missed out altogether
  1. Full moon- throughout healthcare it is believed that people behaviours change and there’s an increase in the amount of random chaos that occurs. When working night shift during a full moon Emergency departments may be more busier than normal and on the wards the behaviour of patients may become erratic

A lot of superstitions within nursing has a paranormal part to it and even though nursing is evidence based with strong foundations from science, this is one part of nursing where there is no strong evidence for the effects occurring. Mind you many nurses have stories of things that just cannot be explained to the point that these beliefs of supernatural forces could influence how the rest of a work day will go. 



Watching Nadal and his rituals that are very personal to him maybe do add some luck that he receives and seems to have definitely made him a fine tennis player. Superstitions date back for thousands of years and even in these current modern times these mysterious beliefs continue to live on. Maybe we’ll never figure out what superstitions and some rituals are really all about, but at work they do bring some good luck and offer a way to make our days feel better by offering a little magic.



  • Lunacy and the Full Moon. Does a full moon really trigger strange behavior?-  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lunacy-and-the-full-moon/

(Photo by Tandem X Visuals on Unsplash)

Oh yeah, you have been warned never say the ‘Q’ word to a nurse !!

– hehe

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