You get more nuts in some professions than others. As a writer, I can safely say that as a whole, we are a pretty nutty profession. But nurses are a different type of personality and their whole careers begin with serious scientific study. As both the daughter of a nurse and the former roommate of a lot of nursing students, I know how much study is required to get into the profession. Nursing is no joke.
Nurses have to walk around with medical knowledge like the symptoms of coarctation of the aorta, how often medication listed as “q8h” is administered and what to do with a patient’s family member who is becoming aggressive. I can absolutely understand why a writer like me with a penchant for fantasy and theory would believe in ghosts. What makes less sense to me is that every nurse I know seems to have a story of a ghost or some kind of paranormal event they’ve witness in their career. If you ever want to hear a good ghost story, ask a nurse. Why is it so ubiquitous that every nurse has a brush with whatever is beyond the veil?
The first part of the answer is obvious: it’s because nurses deal with death on a daily basis.
It makes sense that the places where many people die will also be the places we consider the most haunted. Hospitals have long been considered some of the most haunted buildings. Here is a list of hospitals that regularly top lists of “most haunted locations” just in the U.S.:
- Jesse Lee Home for Children in Alaska
- Camp Bothin in California
- Norwich State Hospital in Connecticut
- Manteno State Hospital in Illinois
- Peoria State Hospital in Illinois
- Independence State Hospital in Iowa
- Eloise Psychiatric Hospital in Michigan
- Essex County Hospital Center in New Jersey
- St Anne’s Guest Home in North Dakota
- Pennsylvania Hospital in Pennsylvania
- Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is widely considered one of the most haunted sites in America. It has been featured on Ghost Stories, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal Lockdown, Portals To Hell and Destination Fear. It was a regular working hospital (they changed the name from “Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum” to “Weston State Hospital” when they began taking non-psychiatric patients) until 1994. Most of the hospitals on this list are still servicing clients. And these are just the hospitals that are considered the most haunted. I’ve never even heard of a hospital that didn’t have any ghost stories.
If you were going to haunt a hospital, wouldn’t nurses be your target audience?
Nurses spend long hours on the floor, especially nurses who work the night shift. When everything else in the hospital is quiet, Nurses are still there working. They’re in the closest proximity to the rooms where patients spend the most time and they’re the most familiar staff person for the majority who spend time in a hospital.
Not everyone who works in a hospital has to develop a relationship with their patients in order to correctly do their job. Nurses do this, and as a result they develop empathy for patients. If anyone in a hospital is going to be sensitive to a sign from the afterlife, it’s the nurses. Nurses will remember the little details about a patients deceased relative or their little habits or malapropisms that can be recognized as a “hello” from beyond the grave or just stuck energy repeating itself in a process we don’t yet understand.
Unlike doctors and other medical professionals who have less contact with patients, part of a nurses job is literally to care about their patients. They pay attention. Nurses notice things.
By trade, nurses are skilled communicators. They have to speak “doctor” and speak “patient” and be able to translate between the two. They also have to possess the social skills to make patients feel comfortable asking for help in their most vulnerable moments while maintaining boundaries with manipulative patients who are seeking pain meds for recreational purposes. This makes them well-suited to also receive messages from the other side. When nurses see something unexplainable, even the stories they tell about it are especially captivating because they have an understanding that not everyone communicates their needs in a straight-forward way.
Does this ring true for you? Have you ever had a paranormal experience in a hospital setting? I’ve read a lot of examples of people’s real experiences with ghosts and the paranormal, and the ghost stories told by nurses always turn out to be the best.