Posts Tagged ‘nursing’

so long night shift, hello DAY SHIFT. forever ever.

If you’ve been around this blog for at least a little bit, you’ve probably heard me complain about night shift in one form or another.  If you’ve been around since the beginning (2008, yikes!), you heard about starting my nursing career on evening shift…which allowed me to sleep at night, but didn’t really allow for any sort of social schedule.  I am excited to say that for the first time in my nursing career, I have made it to the illustrious day shift.


You heard that right.  When I talked to my manager last summer, he seemed to think that I’d move to full time day shift this summer.  Then half of my unit closed, so the next conversation made it sound like full time day shift might not happen until next year.  I wasn’t thrilled about the idea, except there isn’t really much I could do that about…if I went to another unit, I’d be at the bottom of the totem pole again, and I don’t actually want to leave my unit.  But I was getting tired of night shift.  Actually, I was just tired of being tired.  (I said the same thing when I had mono.  So exhausting.)

Anyway, my manager called me last week to ask if I would shift my weekend night shifts to day shift, which I politely declined since I have lost the ability to fall asleep before 4am.  (It’s fun, really.  I’ve seen every episode of House Hunters and Brother vs. Brother at least twice.  You would think I’d be able to renovate things by now, but no.)  The next on the agenda was the day shift discussion, and not only would I not have to wait until next year, but I only have to wait until next month!  (When our next schedule comes out.)  So as of August 10th, I will be on permanent day shift.  No more rotating, day shift is MINE ALL MINE.

Pretty sure my body did a collective sigh of relief.  I have some mixed feelings about going to day shift, although I am mostly excited.  Most of my time is spent on nights, so it’s what I’m more comfortable with.  While there are something I will miss about night shift, there are many things I won’t.

I will miss the people.  And the lack of people.  The people I work with at night are quite awesome, and since I spend the most time with them, I’m more comfortable being and working around them.  Not that the day shift people are bad, but it takes me a long time to get comfortable with people.  Additionally, many fewer people are around on night shift…it’s basically the nurses, the covering PA and fellow, housekeeping, and a nursing supervisor who covers the hospital.  Compared to day shift when alllll the disciplines are around, it’s much quieter.  And if people exhaust you, it’s must more tiring to be on day shift.

I will miss being more autonomous.  Since no one else is really around at night, you basically set your own schedule.  We don’t have to time dressing changes around when the attendings are available or when anesthesia might show up or when physical therapy is planning on coming.  While these things are all important, it is nice to set your own work routine with your patients.

I will miss not setting an alarm.  When I’m on night shift, I don’t set an alarm all that often.  Well, I do set one, but I’m usually awake before it goes off.  On my days off, I’ve basically given up on trying to have a normal schedule, so get up when I want.  This is often closer to noon.  I’m basically the opposite of a morning person, so waking up at 6 or 6:30am for work is going to be a struggle, but hopefully it will become more routine once I know I’ll be doing in permanently instead of two months at a time.

I will miss the night shift differential.  We get paid about $3 more per hour to work night shift, which doesn’t sound like a ton, but it does add up over time.  However, lifestyle and not feeling like death definitely wins on this one, so I’ll take the pay cut.

I will miss seniority on nights.  I’ve been on my unit for almost four years, which is laughable compared to the nurses who have been there for over 20 years, but plenty of people have started after me.  This is nice when it comes to holidays and sometimes scheduling, as I have the seniority card on my side.  Back to the bottom of the totem pole on day shift.


I will miss seeing the sunrise.  Seeing the sunrise is the ultimate sign that a shift is almost over.  We have a great view of the Queensboro from my hospital

I will not miss planning to sleep.  Sometimes people don’t think about how night shift people sleep.  When normal people sleep, they probably think, “Okay, it’s nighttime, and I have to wake up at XX, I should probably go to bed at XX.”  Or you just go to bed when you’re tired.  If I’m heading back into night shift, I’ll try to stay up as late as I can the night before and then try to sleep in as late as I can that day.  After my last night shift into a few nights off, I try to wake up at a reasonable hour so I’m not staying up all night.  (For the record, this is all a plan, and sometimes doesn’t go according to plan.  Sometimes I fall asleep at midnight and other times I sleep until 6pm.  Fail.)

Me everyday.

I will not miss being tired all.  the.  time.  I’m basically nocturnal these days and can’t sleep at night anymore.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t hit a time of night at work where I just want to fall over.  The walk home is brutal and I don’t know how people drive safely after working nights.  I’m often just tired all the time.  I actually went to my doctor earlier this year (on month seven out of eight months of nights) and told her something had to be wrong with me.  I got my iron/hemoglobin/thyroid checked, but basically she was like, “Um, you work nights…so it’s probably that.”  And she was probably right because I felt so much better when I rotated to day shift.

I will not miss taking my medication inappropriately.  I was diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism about 2.5 years ago (recently found out I have Hashimoto’s, so that’s cool?), so I was started on Synthroid.  Synthroid is best absorbed on an empty stomach (aka don’t eat anything for either one hour after taking it or four hours before)…and is generally taken in the morning (or at least at the same time each day).  The problem is that there’s not a consistent time of day when I have an empty stomach.  Either I’ve eaten at work (if I wanted to take it in the morning) or I’m living like a normal person and eating dinner or afternoon snacks (if I wanted to take it in the evening).  So I’ve been taking it in the morning and my dosage has continually increased.  Hopefully we can stabilize that now that I will be on a regular schedule.

I will not miss the 3am night shift life crisis I create for myself.  Usually when I can’t sleep at home and it’s the middle of the night or in the middle of the night on a painstakingly long shift, I wonder what I’m doing with my life.  Therefore, I think of every possibly option to do something else.  I’ve researched business school.  I’ve researched how to become a travel blogger.  I’ve googled how to marry rich.  Started a Peace Corps application.  Used the words “I hate everything” repeatedly.  These are usually resolved by getting some sleep.

I will not miss trying to figure out training.  I don’t think any combination of 12 hour shifts is all that great for training purposes, but I think it will be a little easier on days rather than trying to figure out flipping back and forth.  Plus, I usually have more motivation to go to the gym or run after day shift than I do on nights.  So that’s nice.  PRs here I come!

The only good thing about working overnight is that's socially acceptable to put vodka in orange juice at 10am.

I will not miss eating on a weird schedule.  Is it breakfast?  Dinner?  Why are you drinking coffee at 2am?  Waking up after night shift and then have a beer basically means I will fall asleep soon.  (See:  The Super Bowl when I fell asleep at a bar.)  Also, I’ve been eating ice cream when I get home from night shift…it’s only a little weird to eat ice cream at 8am.

I’m sorry to those of you who may enjoy my delirious 3am tweets, but thank you to those people who are on the west coast, Europe, or Australia for keeping me entertained at times.  Everyone says that coming off of night shift feels amazing and gives you a new lease on life.  I don’t know if that’s being dramatic or not, but I know that I physically and emotionally feel a bazillion times better on day shift, so I’m looking forward to that.  HOORAYYY!

Tell me how glorious it is to sleep at night, for I’ve forgotten.  Nurses – what shift do you work?  Is day shift as glorious as I’m hoping it to be?


07 2014

Nurses’ Week 2014: it’s an honor to serve

It’s Friday of Nurses’ Week, and we’re reaching the end of these nursing posts!  Nurses’ Week technically goes until May 12th, but I’ll give you the weekend off from nursing stuff…even though I have to work two weekends per month!

I wasn’t sure what to write for this post.  I’ve always wanted to talk about death in the ICU (or death in the hospital, really), but it seemed like a dark topic that maybe people don’t want to hear about.  In talk to my mom today, she mentioned a girl I grew up with who is now a nurse in a cardiac ICU.  When asked how she likes it, she replied, “Some days it’s fine, other days I can’t figure out why I ever started this.”

After being an ER nurse for 36 years, I still find it rewarding. You have to be a little crazy to love this job.

The truth is that I don’t love nursing.  I spent my first year as a nurse crying every single day, both at work and at home, wondering how anyone could ever do this.  I got a new job in a better hospital where I’ve only cried once at work (patients can be so mean sometimes), but not a shift goes by that I don’t think about what else I could be doing.

From the outside, nursing looks really great.  I wear scrubs to work.  I work three shifts per week.  I make pretty good money.  The TV/movies make the hospital work look very exciting.  I’m helping people.  But still, I often sit and think about what else I could be doing, and on my worst nights (it’s always night shift – it does crazy things to you), I start researching MBA programs because that seems to be the total opposite of what I’m doing.

My last stretch of night shift lasted for eight months, and at the end of month seven, I went to see my doctor because I was so tired all the time that something had to be wrong with me.  Most everything came back fine, and my extreme exhaustion was most likely attributed to the absurd flipping of schedules that I had been enduring for months.  It’s impressive how much better I feel just by sleeping at night, and it makes me wonder what I’m doing to myself by continuing to work night shift.  (Although admittedly I don’t necessarily have a choice because I would have to leave my job.  I’m technically next in line to go to full time day shift, but we’re making many changes on my unit so it might not happen for another year.  When I hired, I was told the wait for day shift was about 2.5-3 years, and I’ve been work here just over 3.5 years.  So there’s that.)

Working “only” three days per week is certainly nice, and I don’t remember what it is like to work five days per week.  The tradeoff is that I work two weekends per month and half of the holidays each year.  Luckily I like hanging out with myself (100% introvert, thanks), so having Tuesdays off isn’t so bad.  But sometimes I wish I had every weekend off, didn’t work 12.5 hour shifts that leave me exhausted, and didn’t have to wonder if I get to spend Christmas with my family this year.

I want to be this nurse someday :) Even if the world may want to change me, I don't want to lose the heart of a beginner's compassion for patients.

Sometimes, patients refuse all their medications.  Sometimes they have C. diff and need to be changed every two hours.  Sometimes physicians are extremely rude to you.  Sometimes family members are extremely rude to you.  Sometimes people treat you like you have no clue about anything.

Working on the front lines of the hospital is hard.  We carry so much responsibility and take the brunt of patients’ and families’ complaints even if it wasn’t remotely close to our fault. The combination of new technology, everyone wanting everything instantaneously, and the fact that medicine is sometimes more an art than a science makes the job difficult.

But the truth is, I have no idea what else I would be doing.  I say I’m not a people person – which is true, because I’m not.  I’m awkward around people and just being around people drains me and makes me tired (see:  that introvert thing).    But sometimes those patients laugh at my awful jokes.  Sometimes you hunt down a bedside commode and a patient tells you just how much better she feels having you with her.  Sometimes better get better and you get to send them home.

They may forget your name but will never forget how you made them feel. #ThanksPinning. The feeling I get from my residents is worth every minute of my shift.

Most things in nursing are much more mundane that people think.  People rarely run down the hallways yelling, “CODE BLUE!  CODE BLUE!”  (Actually, that never happens.  We usually have the code cart sitting outside someone’s room when we think it’s getting close.)  But for the most part, the things I do matter.  Managing someone’s pain isn’t something that can wait until tomorrow.  Sometimes I don’t eat, drink, or pee for hours because I can’t leave my patient’s bedside.  When I look at other fields, I can’t understand why people work like crazy.  Why people answer their Blackberrys at 11pm on a Saturday.  What’s going to happen if you don’t?  Is someone going to die?  Are they going to be uncomfortable?  I suppose people may think their business/marketing/app/design/insert whatever it is you do is so important (and I’m not saying it’s not), but I can’t imagine thinking about it that way.

Nurses have a lot of character! Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you. And integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

I don’t necessarily believe that nurses are special people, although some of the work we do is pretty crazy.  (And that is affirmed when a patient says, “I could never do what you do” and not in a nice way, but in an “omg I can’t believe you’re okay with doing that” way.  You’re welcome?)  I wouldn’t say I was called to be a nurse or that I grew up taking care of people.  But being a nurse – taking care of people at their worst, taking care of people who no one wants – is special.  The bedside is a truly special place, and no matter how much I search for MBA programs, the truth is I’m not ready to give it up yet. 

#Cherokee #Nurses #Quotes

So to all my fellow nurses, whether you love it or hate it, we’re all in this together.  We see people at their worst while trying to be at our best.  It’s a hard job that requires you to give your all, even if you get nothing in return.  Happy Nurses’ Week to the best of the best – I hope I never need your help, but when I do, I know I’ll be in good hands.  It’s an honor to see people so sick, to have people trust you with their care, and to make a difference in their lives.

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05 2014