Triage! A nursing cabaret


Registered Nurse Zuleika Khan is bringing her one-woman comedy show, TRIAGE! A Nursing Cabaret, to the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville with the Sydney Fringe Festival on Sunday September 14 at 6pm, Wednesday September 17 at 7pm and Thursday September 18 at 6pm. Nurse Uncut has three double passes to give away, one for each night. Read on for Zuleika’s account of how she came to write the show and details of how to enter the ticket giveaway.

I’m a Registered Nurse and professional entertainer. I got my Bachelor of Nursing in Western Sydney and did my New Grad program at Westmead Hospital, which is where I got my first taste of Emergency. While doing this I was also getting dance qualifications and studying at NIDA. I then moved to Melbourne and was lucky enough to get into the Victorian College of the Arts, while working in the Ortho and Trauma ward at the Alfred Hospital, Australia’s major trauma centre.

Zulei (5)

I was born into the medical field. My mother is an RN and midwife, my father a doctor. From the womb my personality has been shaped to see the world through the eyes of a medical professional. From a very young age, the way I talked resulted in some rather strange looks from teachers and friends. It didn’t help that my diagnoses were eerily accurate for a seven year old!

I want to use the show to promote a positive change in the way the healthy public see our professionThe show was written in response to the nurses’ strikes in Victoria in 2011. I had become very aware that if you weren’t a nurse, no one knew exactly what we did and how much responsibility we have on our shoulders. I felt so disillusioned by this that TRIAGE! A Nursing Cabaret was born.

Triage! aims to educate about the harsh realities of our job through comedy and storytelling. Many people don’t realise it is a triage nurse who categorises the patient, not the doctor… I also want to give nurses and other healthcare workers a good belly laugh!

This is not just my story, it’s my mum’s, my colleagues’ and my best friend’s.

The medicinal power of comedy is tremendous. Triage! details the true stories of what it’s like to be standing at the front door of the hospital. It outlines these harsh realities with humour and music. My role is as the triage nurse dealing with the patients in the waiting room, from the life-threatening to the hypochondriacs, having to be able to assess everyone in a millisecond. While we wait for a free bed, I share some stories and sing some songs!


There is one scenario in the show based on a shift where two of my patients had seven code greys between them. It wasn’t my fault. It was a hideous patient workload. It was one of those days where you wish you had the Health Minister and Premier standing next to you. I was also responsible for a nervous EN whose heart was in the right place but dealing with people who were aggressive, mentally ill and drug and alcohol affected was not her forte. She escalated the whole situation without meaning to. I spent most of my shift calling security and chasing patients down the stairs. When I hear plans for phasing out Registered Nurses, making us managers who work off the ward, it really, really scares me for the welfare of our patients.

In the show I sing a variety of songs from Beyonce to Dolly Parton to the Eurhythmics. My taste in music is eclectic and my voice is said to be versatile, soulful and bold. I love show tunes, pop, soul, classical and 1930s jazz.

I’m very fortunate that I can hold a tune and people take notice. I want to use this talent to expose my audience to something that makes them think differently. Unless you are standing next to me at work, you don’t know what I do.

I want respect for nurses. Our job forces us to empathise and put others before us, which means we don’t demand acknowledgement. Triage! is a show about a nurse who demands acknowledgement!

TRIAGE! sold out in two separate seasons in Melbourne, including the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. This is the first time the show has come to Sydney.

For a free double pass to Triage!, NSWNMA members should email their names and addresses to by midnight next Monday 1 September. Please specify which night you would prefer, though we cannot guarantee that.

To keep up to date on upcoming Triage! The Cabaret events, like us on Facebook!

For more about Zuleika:



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