I’m excited to be writing again. I have mentioned before the ability to attract other like minded individuals. It’s worked again.

I recently read a post from Barely Sane Nurse that hit close to home. She is a night shift nurse who’s started wondering, “Why the hell am I doing this again?”

The way Barely Sane Nurse talks about the profession can best be described as, “uncensored.” This is near and dear to my heart as we should be able to talk about the profession, the good and bad, for what it is and isn’t.  This post is dedicated to all barely sane night shift nurses out there. 

Day Shift Nursing In The Hospital, THE GOOD: 

  • It’s the day
    • The nurse is on equal footing with the majority of organized society
  • It’s the busiest shift (in terms of the amount that happens)
    • most orders are written on the day shift
    • those orders will, for the most part, be initiated by the day nurse
    • it’s easy to pick up new skills and knowledge
    • the shift goes quickly
  • Interdisciplinary teamwork is possible
    • the day nurse is never alone, there’s always someone available to help if there is a need
    • social work, medical physicians assistants (PA), surgical PA’s, physical therapy, medical physicians, surgeons, occupational therapy, speech therapy, respiratory therapy, infectious disease, specialty consults, PICC team, phlebotomy, pharmacy, chaplains, visiting nurse services, transportation, directors, schedulers, guest services, (etc. etc.) are all readily available
    • less waiting when a response is needed (generally)
    • the nurse can round with physicians to build a working relationship (understanding MD mindset, preferences, knowledge sharing, etc.) know immediately how the plan of care is going to change (or not)
      • MDs like nurses. If they don’t, they probably aren’t good physicians. The RN has an extremely complementary skillset to that of the physician and when both come together, great patient care results
  • Patient families and visitors
    • a potentially good source of information
    • they bring treats
  • Picking up additional shifts is less of a hassle when your world isn’t already upside down

Day Shift Nursing In The Hospital, THE BAD:

  • It’s the busiest shift (in terms of the amount that happens)
    • most orders are written on the day shift
    • those orders will, for the most part, be initiated by the day nurse
      • Receiving a post-op/new admission to the floor, transferring a patient to/from the ICU or step down unit, discharging a patient, and new orders can all seem to happen at the same time if your nurse leader is inattentive to what’s going on (more common than you might think)
      • The nurse better be able to explain situations to the oncoming nurse such as how many bags of potassium and/or magnesium were ordered, how many infused, which was done first, and why
        • I always felt there was this condescending cynical eye from the oncoming nurse that I didn’t do things the way they would have done. Well, come to the day shift and find out for yourself (if you can survive, see below)
    • the shift goes quickly, an inefficient nurse will drown trying to get everything done properly
  • Interdisciplinary teamwork is possible, but sometimes obnoxious
    • There are way more people to interact with on the day shift and they aren’t always nice or have teamwork and/or patient satisfaction at the top of their list
    • If your pharmacy is lackluster, they will be the bane of your existence
    • Patient’s are frequently off the floor during med pass or when new orders come in
    • Day shift has morning rounds where the nurse is expected to leave the hall for 5-15 minutes to discuss patient progress and discharge planning
      • this can create a conflict when patient needs override your director/charge nurses desire for updates causing tension
  • Patient families and visitors
    • a potentially bad source of added stress
    • they bring treats, that make you fat
  • Picking up additional shifts is sometimes less available than other times
    • Potential to work a double, then be canceled later in the pay period, missing out on overtime pay
  • Nurse behavior, competence, attitude, cleanliness, appearance, and ability to work with others are under the microscope on the day shift
    • There is a certain kind of nurse that only works nights because one of those aforementioned areas is insufficient to work on the day shift without causing some level of drama/mayhem
      • They frequently join the day shift and are gone shortly after for one reason or another (new job, discipline, back to the night shift, etc).

There are pros and cons to every shift. I have worked them all and would say no one shift is harder than another because they each have different elements that make them enjoyable and challenging when compared. This list is not exhaustive. Feel free to comment below specific to the day shift. I will post regarding the evening and night shift respectively.

-Nurse David