Most of our clown doctors and nurses were known for being quite mischievous and wreaking a little havoc around the hospital. We’d not only prepare silly little gags and rehearse our performance skills, we would use anything at our disposal in a hospital room or waiting area-anything to get a laugh. But how disruptive are you allowed to be in a hospital setting?
Some examples of mischief perpetrated by our group:
* Our former unit supervisor and his shift partner once saw a quiet hallway as a great opportunity to sneak into a large, empty display case. They each struck a pose once inside and held it as people began to pass by.
* Our lead female clown was very experienced, having had some training with Patch Adams himself and enjoyed dressing like a bumble bee. She and her partner decided to make good use of a sloped hallway and a wheelchair one slow Saturday. One of the times her partner pushed her down the slope, she saw that she was about to crash through some double doors, stuck her feet straight out to push the doors open in time to almost hit a surgeon. Instead of getting embarrassed and apologizing profusely, she yelled out “Bowling for doctors!” at the top of her lungs. Thankfully, the doctor found it all amusing.
* I made it a habit to tell anyone sitting in the radiology waiting room that they need their paperwork, and then proceed to drag toilet paper (clean, and still connected to an unbroken roll) from the nearest bathroom all the way to their seat and pile it on top of them with my partner’s help.
* One night my shift partner decided it was a patient’s birthday (it wasn’t, but that should never stop you), ripped a large picture from the hallway wall outside her room and placed it on her bed as a gift. I asked him if we were allowed to do that (I was still new) and he said “I don’t know; does it matter?”
We used to get creative on slow days. You can get the feel of your hospital after lots of shifts and figure out just how disruptive you think you can be without doing much damage or getting kicked out. Push the envelope a bit. If you don’t get scolded, you’ve done well.
Lucy E. Nunez is an LPN and has been a theatrical performer since 2002. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in 2014. She was a resident clown there and at Baptist Children's Hospital. For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds