This weekend I did the unthinkable, I put my cell phone on silence. This crazy move was prompted by a phone call that came in at 7:30 am on my day of. The message went something like this;
"Hey, we're really short tonight a bunch of people called off. Would you work a shift tonight? Call us back!"
What followed was an hour of agonizing over whether or not to pick up a shift, it would mean overtime, but I had just worked three back to back shifts. I took the chicken route out and did not call back. Later that day, my phone chirped again and another message of very similar content was left for me. I began feeling pretty guilty, I hate working short handed and I can always use the extra and with times being this tight who knows when I will get an offer for overtime again?
At that point Mr. looked at me and asked me if I wanted to work an extra shift. Well want to? Heck no, I don't want to but I feel like I should. Why? He asked, why do you feel like you need to, we have enough money, why do you need to be the one covering when someone calls off?
That made me stop and think, why do I feel this guilt when the staffing office calls? I'm not sure but I noticed that it is something that happens most often in "young nurses". A number of newer nurses on my unit often feel a tremendous pressure to pick up extra shifts, and the staffing office often puts pressure on them by saying things like;
"You're young you can handle it"
The question is, can you? Many nurses take on extra shifts and don't ask themselves this question. We all know the dangers of working while tired, so why do we take the chances? Sometimes I think that we as nurses have a touch of the Superman Complex, we keep telling ourselves we can do it, when the question is should we do it?
After Mr. asked me if I wanted to take the shift I took a quick self inventory. It was 10 am and I was already wanting to hit the bed again for a nap, I was getting grumpy just thinking about another night in the ER and my back was aching. Did I want to take this shift? Hell no, I wanted to sit on the couch like a lump, nap and perhaps con my husband into rubbing my sore back. That's when it hit me, not only did I not want to take this shift, I couldn't handle it and no amount of overtime would make up for the misery I would feel during and after that shift.
At that point I put my cell phone on silence, put it on the bedside table and pointedly ignored it for the weekend. When I looked at it this morning there was another message from staffing asking me if I wanted to pick up a shift on Sunday night. I am glad I did what I did.