Quotes for Nurses: 172 Words of Wisdom for All Nurses

Sometimes we all need a little morale boost, and that’s what these quotes will do for you. Nursing is a noble profession but it can also be pretty hard. Here are some inspiring quotes to keep you motivated day in and day out.

Nursing Quotes- a picture of a nurse with a young female patient examining her stuffed animal toy.

Nursing is a challenging but rewarding career. However, what if you feel down or burnt out in your current role (or in class if you’re in nursing school)? How can you reignite the passion that once drove you to choose nursing? Here are many of the best inspiring, moving, and hilarious quotes for nurses to give you strength when morale is low. Some will make you laugh, and others might make you cry, but they all have something important to say about nursing. 

Table of Contents

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Quotes for working nurses

1. “Nurses are a unique kind. They have this insatiable need to care for others, which is both their greatest strength and fatal flaw.” Jean Watson, American nurse theorist and nursing professor

2. “A nurse is not what you do. It is what you are…. I am a nurse. It’s not what I do, it’s what I am.” – Unknown

3. “Save one life, you’re a hero. Save 100 lives, you’re a nurse.” – Unknown

4. “Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation by a surgeon.” – Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish economist and diplomat

5. “Nurses dispense comfort, compassion, and caring without even a prescription.” – Val Saintsbury

6. “Nurses are there when the last breath is taken, and nurses are there when the first breath is taken. Although it is more enjoyable to celebrate the birth, it is just as important to comfort in death.” – Christine Belle

7. “You treat a disease: you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you win—no matter the outcome.” – Robin Williams as Patch Adams

8. “When you’re a nurse, you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours.” – Unknown

9. “To do what nobody else will do, in a way that nobody else can, in spite of all we go through, is to be a nurse.” – Rawsi Williams

10. “Sometimes I inspire my patients; more often, they inspire me.” – Unknown

11. “Be the nurse you would want as a patient.” – Unknown

12. “Nurses are the heart of healthcare.” – Donna Wilk Cardillo, MA, RN, CSP 

13. “A nurse will always give us hope, an angel with a stethoscope.” – Carrie Latet

14. “As a nurse we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart, and body of our patients. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

15. “Treat the patient as a whole, not just the hole in the patient.” – Unknown



16. “Just so you know, doctors are here to diagnose, not heal. We heal.” – Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie

17. “It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.” – Mother Teresa

18. “Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on Earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” – Vincent Van Gogh

19. “When I think about all the patients and their loved ones I have worked with over the years, I know most of them don’t remember me, nor I them. But I do know that I gave a little piece of myself to each of them, and they to me, and those threads make up the tapestry that is my career in nursing.” – Donna Wilk Cardillo, MA, RN, CSP 

20. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

21. “No matter how difficult the days may get, don’t forget the reason you became a nurse.” – Unknown

22. “Every nurse has that one patient that they’ll remember forever.” – Unknown

23. “Always remember your WHY” – Unknown

24. “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock

25. “Being a nurse means to hold all your own tears and start drawing smiles on people’s faces.” – Dana Basem

26. “The nurse is temporarily the consciousness of the unconscious, the love of life of the suicidal, the leg of the amputee, the eyes of the newly blind, a means of locomotion for the newborn , knowledge and confidence for the young mother, a voice for those too weak to speak, and so on.” – Virginia Henderson, RN

27. “Nursing is not for the empty of heart…nor the faint of heart.” – Unknown

28. “It would not be possible to praise nurses too highly.” – Stephen Ambrose, author

29. “Nurses are always there, you care for us from the earliest years. You look after us in our happiest and saddest times. And for many, you look after us and our families at the end of our lives. Your dedication and professionalism are awe-inspiring.” – Duchess Kate Middleton

30. “Nursing is a progressive art such that to stand still is to go backwards.” – Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing



31. “Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter’s or sculptor’s work.” – Florence Nightingale

32. “The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.” – Florence Nightingale

33. “If a nurse declines to do these kinds of things for her patient, “because it is not her business,” I should say that nursing was not her calling. I have seen surgical “sisters,” women whose hands were worth to them two or three guineas a-week, down upon their knees scouring a room or hut, because they thought it otherwise not fit for their patients to go into. I am far from wishing nurses to scour. It is a waste of power. But I do say that these women had the true nurse-calling—the good of their sick first, and second only the consideration what it was their “place” to do—and that women who wait for the housemaid to do this, or for the charwoman to do that, when their patients are suffering, have not the making of a nurse in them.” – Florence Nightingale

34. “I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.” – Florence Nightingale

35. “What angels are to the sad, nurses are to the sick.” – Amit Kalantri

36. “Drugs are not always necessary, belief in recovery always is.” Norman Cousins 

37. “A nurse is compassion in scrubs” – Lexie Saige

38. “Nurses may not be angels, but they are the next best thing!” – Unknown

39. “Bound by paperwork, short on hands, sleep, and energy… nurses are rarely short on caring.” – Sharon Hudacek

40. “The world gives you so much pain and here you are, making gold out of it – there is nothing purer than that.” – Rupi Kaur

Nursing Quotes- a picture of a nurse holding the hand of a patient.








Inspirational quotes for all nurses

41. “A nurse is one who opens the eyes of a newborn and gently closes the eyes of a dying man. It is indeed a high blessing to be the first and last to witness the beginning and end of life.” – Unknown

42. “America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.” – Barack Obama

43. “Our job as nurses is to cushion the sorrow and celebrate the job, every day, while we are ‘just doing our jobs.” – Christine Belle

44. “Our job as nurses is to cushion the sorrow and celebrate the job, every day, while we are ‘just doing our jobs.” – Mother Teresa  

45. “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale, American radio speaker and author

46. “Forgive yourself; you are not perfect. Show yourself grace; you are still learning. Show yourself patience; you are on a journey.” – Unknown

47. “Hardships often prepare people for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S. Lewis

48. “I never dreamed about success—I worked for it.” – Estée Lauder

49. “Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

50. “When you feel like quitting, remember why you started.” – Unknown



51. “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” – Art Williams, businessman and coach

52. “Value what you do and add value by what you do.” – Unknown

53. “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

54. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Ghandi

55. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” – Plato

56. “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this something, at whatever cost, must be attained.” – Marie Curie

57. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – William Shakespeare

58. “Happiness … consists of giving, and in serving others.” – Henry Drummond 

59. “Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, a touch that never hurts.” – Charles Dickens

60. “Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your presence felt.” – Grace Lichtenstein, Author

61. “Fill your mind with truth. Fill your heart with love. Fill your life with service.” – Vaughn J. Featherstone, American missionary 

62. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss

63. “I attribute my success to this; I never gave nor took any excuse.” – Florence Nightingale  

64. “Success comes to those who are too busy to look for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

65. “There no longer has to be a difference between who you are and what you do.” – Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur and author



66. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou

67. “So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.” – Florence Nightingale  

68. “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.” – Florence Nightingale  

69. “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” – Salvador Dali

70. “I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”  – Florence Nightingale

71. “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Ghandi

72. “It’s okay to learn from every experience, and it’s okay to make mistakes” – Louise Hay

73. “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for fewer problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.” – Earl Shoaf

74. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest accomplishment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Bascaglia

75. “When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.” – Mahatma Ghandi

76. “If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” – Win Borden

77. “Confidence is not ‘they will like me,’ confidence is “I’ll be fine if they don’t.” Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them.” – T. Harv Eker

78. “I am among those who think that science has great beauty.” – Marie Curie

79. “A caress, a smile, is full of meaning for one who is sick. It is a simple gesture, but encouraging, he or she feels accompanied, feels closer to being healed, feels like a person, not a number.” – Pope Francis 

80. “Never underestimate the healing effects of beauty.” – Florence Nightingale



81. “Nurses are the hospitality of the hospital.” – Carrie Latet

82. “I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.” – Clara Barton

83. “The definition of a nurse: To go above and beyond the call of duty. The first to work and the last to leave. The heart and soul of caring. who will pass through your life for a minute and impact it for an eternity. An empowered individual whom you may meet for only a 12-hour period, but who will put you and yours above theirs.” – Unknown

84. “I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” – E.E. Hale

85. “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Rumi

86. “We have been dying since we got here and forgot to enjoy the view – live fully.” – Rupi Kaur

87. “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” – Henry David Thoreau

88. “Your heart is the size of an ocean. Go find yourself in its hidden depths.” – Rumi

Nursing Quotes- a picture of a student nurses in class listening to a professor.








Quotes for nurses in school 

89. “Caring is the essence of nursing.” – Jean Watson

90. “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo, educator

91. “Every nurse was drawn to nursing because of a desire to care, to serve, or to help.” – Christina Feist-Heilmeier, RN

92. “While that’s correct… it’s not the most correct. This is nursing school.” – Unknown

93. “The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest.” – Dr. William Osler, Canadian physician and founder of Johns Hopkins University

94. “Nursing is one of the fine arts: I had almost said ‘the finest of fine arts.” – Florence Nightingale

95. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together.” – Unknown

96. “Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.” – Florence Nightingale



97. “Panic plays no part in the training of a nurse.” – Elizabeth Kenny, Australian bush nurse 

98. “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – Chinese proverb

99. “Let us never consider ourselves finished, nurses. We must be learning all of our lives.” – Florence Nightingale

100. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

101. “Although your educational journey may be difficult at times, you will reap the reward of utmost satisfaction when holding your nursing diploma for the first time—and nothing will ever compare to the fulfillment that improving and saving the lives of others will bring!” – Mikhail Shneyder, Nightingale College President and CEO

102. “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For passion will lead you right into your purpose.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes, evangelist 

103. “The character of the nurse is as important as the knowledge she possesses.” – Carolyn Jarvis

104. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Unknown

105. “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” – John Maxwell



106. “Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

107. “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

108. “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” – Aristotle 

109. “Forgive yourself, you are not perfect. Show yourself grace; you are still learning. Show yourself patience; you are on a journey.” – Shannon Yvette Tanner

110. “The world is put back by the death of everyone who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.” – Florence Nightingale

111. “Nursing school is a lot like giving birth… Once it’s over, you tend to forget just how painful the process really was.” – Unknown

112. “And what nursing has to do in either case is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.” –  Florence Nightingale

Nursing Quotes -- a picture of a RN laughing with an elderly patient.








Funny quotes for nurses

113. “Not all angels have wings … some have scrubs.” Unknown

114. “Nurses—one of the few blessings of being ill.” – Sara Moss-Wolfe

115. “Nurse: just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate anything and soft enough to understand anyone.” – Unknown

116. “May your scrubs be comfy, your coffee be strong, and your Monday be short.” – Unknown

117. “No, RN does not stand for ‘Refreshments and Narcotics.” – Unknown

118. “Yes, I am a nurse. No, I don’t want to look at it.” – Unknown

119. “Don’t mess with me—I get paid to stab people with sharp objects.” – Unknown

120. “Hand sanitizer has started to become your best friend.” – Unknown

121. “How can anybody hate nurses? Nobody hates nurses. The only time you hate a nurse is when they’re giving you an enema.” – Unknown

122. “I’m a nurse. What’s your superpower?” – Unknown

123. “I’ve come to the realization that I’ll touch anything as long as I have gloves on.” – Unknown 

124. “Nursing is not a career … it’s a post-apocalyptic survival skill.” – Unknown

125. “You know you work in healthcare when you can discuss puke and bowel movements at the lunch table and no one flinches.” – Unknown

126. “Remember, I’m a nurse. You’re going to have to say a lot to gross me out.” – Unknown

127. “Sometimes I have to remind myself around my non-nurse friends not to talk about bodily functions.” – Unknown

128. “I’m a nurse because ‘miracle worker’ isn’t an official title.” – Unknown



129. “No, I will not rub your feet. I am a nurse, not a masseur.” – Unknown

130. “I’m a nurse—nothing scares me.” – Unknown

131. “Be nice to me… I may be your nurse someday and remember…catheters and needles come in sizes that I choose!” – Unknown

132. “May your cup runneth over, unless it’s that urine specimen cup you’re trying to hand me.” – Unknown

133. “How many nurses does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None! They delegate it to the nursing student.” – Unknown

134. “It’s the new nurses who aren’t scared that worry me” – Unknown

135. “You know you’re a nurse when your finger has gone places you never thought possible.” – Unknown

136. “Don’t let anyone treat you like an expired 24 butterfly gauge. You are a #16 in the left forearm with excellent venous return!” – Unknown

137. “Nurse: the first person you see after saying, ‘Hold my beer and watch this!’” – Unknown

138. “When I heard 2020 was going to be the year of the nurse, this is not what I expected…” – Unknown

139. “The 3 words most people want to hear: ‘I love you.’ The 3 words nurses want to hear: ‘Alert, Oriented, and Ambulatory.” – Unknown

140. “Being a nurse is weird: I can keep a poker face through trauma, but have a mental breakdown over losing my favorite pen.” – Unknown

141. “3 AM: the time when you remember you forgot to chart that thing, bring that lady her water, or pass that med.” – Unknown

142. “Once a nurse, always a nurse. No matter where you go or what you do, you can never truly get out of nursing. It’s like the Mafia… you know too much.” – Deb Gaudlin, RN

143. “Laughter is the best medicine… except when treating diarrhea.” – Unknown

144. “Not saying I’m a big deal, but the government classifies me as essential.” – Unknown

145. “Nurses can’t fix stupid… but we can sedate it.”  – Unknown



146. “I love being a nurse, but I mostly love wearing scrubs. They’re basically professional pajamas.” – Unknown

147. “Be nice to your nurse. They dispense happy pills” – Unknown

148. “You can tell when a patient is feeling better when she starts to wear makeup.” – Jen O’Keefe

149. “Every nurse has a best friend, Pam: LorazePAM, DiazePAM, and ClonazePAM.” – Unknown

150. “The nurse that can smile when things go wrong… is probably going off duty.” – Unknown

151. “I came, I cared, I charted” – Unknown

152. “You think Mondays are bad? Try working weekends, holidays and 12 hour nights” – Unknown

153. “Laughter is not the best medicine… Propofol is!” – Unknown

154. “Showering won’t be enough after today. I’ll need to be autoclave.” – Unknown

155. “Be nice to the nurses, we keep the doctor from accidentally killing you.” – Unknown

156. “TGIF? Sorry, not familiar with that term. I’m a nurse.” – Unknown

157. “You know you’re a nurse if you can drink a pot of coffee and go directly to sleep.” – Unknown

158. “I’m one shift away from developing a drug habit.” – Unknown

159. “Full-time drug dealer. Just one of my many talents.” – Unknown

160. “Yes, I’m a nurse. I stab people for a living!” – Unknown



161. “Sleep all day, nurse all night.” – Unknown

162. “It’s really nice when patients call me nurse, insntead of, “hey”!” – Unknown

163. “Nursing would be a dream job, if there were no doctors.” – Gerhard Kocher

164. “What would I do without the patient’s family members telling me how to do my job?” – Unknown

165. “If I collapse at work, here is a list of doctors that I don’t want working on me!” – Unknown

166. “If you walk a mile in a nurses shoes, you’ll walk a whole lot farther than a mile, and your back will kill you at the end.” – Unknown

167. “The doctors may be mapping out the war games, but it is the nurses who make the conflict bearable.” – Jodi Picoult

170. “A new nurse gets scared when a doctor yells. An old nurse yells back.” – Unknown

171. “Nurses can’t fix crazy, all they can do is document it.” – Unknown

172. “Why yes I do marathons. It’s called 12.5+ hour nurse shift run 3 times a week.” – Unknown

173. “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” – Lucille Ball

174. “I am dying with the help of too many physicians.” – Alexander the Great


Caregivers need inspiration and motivation from time to time. These quotes provide just that, whether they are funny life quotes or empowering phrases. Re-read them when you’re feeling down or needing a break. Remember: it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. We can’t effectively take care of others if we don’t adequately care for ourselves first!

Resources for additional support

If needed, nurses struggling with their day-to-day responsibilities, including their own mental well-being can find support and resources here: 

Aspen University offers online RN to BSN, specialized MSN, and DNP programs to help you advance your nursing career. 


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