A group of happy nurses at work.

As the International Day of Friendship (July 30) approaches, let's all take a moment to celebrate the incredible bonds between nurses. Nurse besties bring the knowledge, support, motivation, and fun that make nursing not just a profession but a lifelong adventure.

An illustration that explains the UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Day of Friendship in 2011.

Workplace friendships contribute to employee well-being, improve teamwork, and create community within a profession. But these connections go a lot deeper when it comes to nurse friendships.

While every profession has unique complexities, nursing stands out for its multifaceted, rapidly changing nature, strong interprofessional reliance, ethical considerations, and life-or-death scenarios. And let's face it; there are a lot of yuck factors that come with the job. Nurses handle things most folks couldn't stomach, from collecting blood to dressing wounds to dealing with bodily fluids.

Bottom line: Only nurses understand what nurses truly go through. Here are five reasons why nurse besties are genuinely the best:

1. They Share Knowledge.

Nurse friendships are the ultimate brain trust. Nurses frequently share knowledge, best practices, and insight with one another, contributing to ongoing learning and development. Together these nurses are a force to be reckoned with, constantly enhancing their skills and providing the best possible patient care.

2. They Share Experiences.

Nursing is a demanding profession with unique experiences. Nurse besties completely understand one other, sharing the same highs and lows that make their bonds unbreakable. From valuable moments to long shifts to intense situations, they know how it feels to comfort a scared patient, walk four miles during a 12-hour shift, and have their heart race during a code blue.

3. They Share Purpose.

Nurse besties share a professional purpose that strengthens teamwork and resilience within the healthcare setting. When nurses have a strong bond, they communicate more effectively and work together harmoniously. This symphony of collaboration fosters unity and cooperation, improving patient outcomes.

4. They Share Emotional Support.

Nurses face unique struggles, long hours, and intense situations that can leave them feeling drained. A nurse bestie provides a safe space for letting it all out—feelings, frustrations, and successes—while offering empathy and understanding that soothes the soul.

5. They Make Great Burnout Busters.

Research shows that nurses who form strong connections with other nurses at work experience lower levels of job stress than those with weak ties. In other words, nurse besties are great burnout busters. They're purveyors of job satisfaction and keepers of mental and physical health.

6. They Share the Best Laughs.

Nurses understand what makes other nurses tick. So, it’s common for nurse besties to joke about things that would make outsiders shudder—but who can blame them? Nurses experience things that would have most people running for the hills. Sharing a laugh during a stressful day can lower blood pressure and help put things in perspective. A dark sense of humor can keep nurses laughing instead of crying.

An illustration that explains how nurse besties have a different kind of friendship.

The Power of Nurse Friendships

Gallup data from August 2022 shows that having a best friend at work has become more important since the pandemic. For many, the pandemic caused traumatic experiences and other profound difficulties, namely healthcare workers and educators. These employees found their work besties' social and emotional support more critical than ever to get through challenging times.

Furthermore, Gallup shows that having best friends at work is vital to employee engagement and job success. The data also suggests a strong correlation between work best friends and business outcomes, including profitability, safety, and retention.

It's also critical for experienced nurses to be welcoming toward newer nurses and help them learn the ropes. As explained in this Minority Nurse article, when experienced nurses establish friendships with newer nurses, there becomes an increase in job satisfaction and a more positive work environment. The friendship between nurses Nicole Mitchell and Katie Smith at Bon Secours – St. Mary's Hospital is an excellent example of nurse mentorship.

How to Make Friends With Other Nurses

Making friends as an adult can be more difficult than doing so as a child. A lack of time, trust, and energy often prevents adults from developing deep and lasting friendships. But if you're committed to finding some nurse besties, it’s much easier than you think. You just need the right approach.

In her article on friendships in nursing, nurse Gayle Morris says instead of viewing friendship-making as a large mountain to cross, take the bunny hill approach and spend 10 minutes a day finding new nursing friends. Here are some other tips to help you navigate the friend-making process:

  • Become a member of a professional nursing organization.

  • Attend social or networking events for nurses.

  • Pursue volunteer opportunities that involve nurses.

  • Be patient and persistent while maintaining a positive attitude.

As a ShiftMed nurse, you can join our private Facebook group (facebook.com/groups/shiftmed) to connect with other ShiftMed nurses nationwide. It's a great place to seek advice, contribute your thoughts, and stay updated on ShiftMed happenings.

Let's Hear it for Nursing Friendships

Whether you're a CNA, LPN, or RN, your job can throw some major curveballs. But remember, with nurse besties, you're unstoppable. When the going gets tough, your friendships become a wellspring of motivation. They remind you that you're fierce and have the strength to overcome any obstacle. Your nurse besties are there to lift you up and help you bounce back stronger than ever.

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