A scholar who spent five months at a cancer ward in a hospital that had roughly 5,000 employees studied how nurses use knowledge on the job and found something interesting;  they can smell infections.

I don't mean leprosy, or something really obvious, they can smell a type of infection.

“A urinary tract infection is very distinct. I can recognize that smell out in the corridor,” wrote one, while another said, "a urinary tract infection, or clostridium. It's super easy to smell!”

This makes sense, especially considering that the nurses Østfold University College grad student Hanna Marie Ihlebæk surveyed had up to 25 years if experience.  The more experience you get, the better your clinical eye. And in this case, nose.

Hanna Marie Ihlebæk. Photo by Ida Irene Bergstrøm via Science Norway.

"Nurses use all their senses except taste,” Edith Gjevjon, nurse, editor of the Norwegian nursing journal Sykepleien Forsking, and head of the department for undergraduate studies at Lovisenberg Diaconal University College in Oslo, told Ida Irene Bergstrøm of Science Norway.

Some even insist we can smell anxiety, joy, and depression but they may be using "smell" the way we use "detect." Though I know hundreds of doctors I still get "white coat hypertension" when visiting, so I tell the nurse to take my blood pressure after the exam. She gets it, she doesn't need a keen sense of smell to know that people are nervous seeing doctors.