Sunday, September 23, 2012


The other day while I was on the phone to an old friend from back home I got the oddest call. It was our staffing office, apparently a nurse had called off and they thought that with the census it would be OK, but now there were a bunch of patients backed up in the ER and would I be able to find it in my heart to come in....during the DAY, to work.

  My initial reaction was "Are you kidding me? No." but my good old friend gave me a kick in the butt and reminded me that I wasn't doing anything other than sitting at home talking to her. So I called staffing back and told them I'd be there just give me some time to shower and get dressed, I was still in my PJ's at the time but they didn't need to know that.

  I got in by noon, I made pretty good time considering they called me just around 11am, and walked into pure chaos. Apparently TWO nurses had called off that day and another night shift nurse had picked up an AM shift on her day off too. Everyone was scrambling, alarms were going off everywhere and doctors were giving orders to what appeared to be thin air in hopes that someone may be listening. I shook my head and went to the other side of the unit where my patient would be headed, set up my room and called the ER to let them know there was a nurse to take the patient they had in the wings and then tried to settle into some sort of rhythm.

  I haven't worked the day shift since I was first hired, at the time I was taking classes through my hospital to help me get up to speed on critical care one day a week and putting in two shifts on the floor under a preceptors supervision. It was a little different for me to come back to the AM as a full fledged nurse. 

  Honestly it wasn't a horrible day, there was plenty to keep me occupied, like a second admission in the wings. It was rather nice to have doctors that were awake when they were paged and who responded in minutes rather than hours, but things were just different. I missed the joviality of the night crew, the little jokes that we have and the way that we always pull together in the worst of situations. To be honest, even though we work in the same unit with the same patients, I felt like I was an outsider visiting for a short while. 

  It was nice to go back to days where I started and prove to myself that I could handle the pace and activity now that I am a "real nurse" and have some experience under my belt. I remember a time in the not to distant past when the load of two patients during the day would make me feel like I was drowning. I often wondered if that was a sign that the day shift was harder and that I was unable to make the grade there. Now I know it is not the case, the only thing I was feeling was a lack of experience and now that I have some I can hold my own just fine. It was also nice to go back to days and experience it all again, remind myself what they go through when we are fast asleep at home, it really helped me put a few things in perspective again. Most of all it cemented my belief that I am happiest on night shift, even with the crazy hours and the messed up days off, I found that I am most content slipping into darkened rooms in the wee hours of the night to care for my patients, much like Flo did all those years ago. 


  1. So did u always know you wanted to work night shift? I know that as a new nurse (where I am) the day shifts are sort of a seniority thing. With a 3 year old, I'm not sure I'd like working night shift & be on a totally different schedule than her. What about your husband? Does he have a day shift schedule? Are the night shifts more 'chill' & laid back?

    1. Yep, I have always been a night owl. I much prefer sleeping in til noon and being up till 2am, I've been that way my whole life. I was really miserable on day shift because I had to be up at 0530 to get ready for work.

      My hubby has a normal 9-5 desk job and we only have one car between us. So he picks me up from work, takes me home and then is off to his job and back again in the evening to take me to work. It's rough but we make it work and honestly we don't have a lot of problems finding time to see each other. We make time at night for dinner on my days off and make a point of going out to a movie any Friday night I get off. On the weekends we have breakfast before I go to bed.

      The advantage to working the night shift is that if you have school age kids, they are off at school when you are sleeping so the house is a little quieter. Some parents love working nights because they can be home when the kids get home from school, where if you work during the day it can be harder.

      In my experience I find the people who work nights a little more laid back. There is usually none of the higher ups working so you can be a little more "fun", also you don't have all the Doc's and other staff up in your charts so it feels less busy. But when things hit the fan it can be harder because you have only the on call Doc's and your co workers to help you out, so be ready to take charge in a hurry.

  2. It's good to know that soon 2 patients will seem like a cakewalk. We just started getting assigned 2 patients last week during our med/surg clinical and, oh my gosh, I felt like I didn't have enough time to get everything done I needed to. Definitely made me want to cry! haha.

    1. There are some nights where I feel like that too, in fact even my charge who has been doing this for 30 yrs feels like that. Don't worry soon you will get the hang of it, but if you do have one of those days just remember that ALL of us have one of those days =)

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  4. You are Inspiring and worth aspiring to!! I am a night-shifter through and through and would not want to work the day shift. Well, except if I got a coveted OR position :-)

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