Hi. I work as a PCT on a neuro floor in a hospital, night shift.
Here is a "typical" night shift/my routine:
Arrive at hospital at around 6:40 p.m, print off patient sheet for the floor and get organized. We are an 18 bedded unit. If I'm lucky, I get another aide. If not then i'm the only aide for the whole floor and my night will be invariably busier. I would say about half the time I get another aide and half the time I'm the only aide for the unit. If i'm the only aide on the unit the nurses will each take a patient that they will do vitals on, but it still makes for a much more hectic night. We all get pulled to other units in the hospital on a rotating basis , in which case the duties vary a little bit but more or less stay the same.
At 7 p.m we have a team report where we join the nurses for a general overview of what happened during the day shift. Then we break away from the nurses and I get report from the aide/aides from the day time. I try to catch each of my nurses for a quick report from them because sometimes the aides are incorrect or don't know about upcoming changes (example: patient will be NPO after midnight, day time aide was probably unaware of that, etc). I would say that the vast majority of our patients have vital signs due Q4 hours. I also check with the nurses to see if they want to turn their Q2 patients on the odd or even hour and I make note of that so I can help them with the turns.
Along with all the duties I have listed, answering call lights is a given at any time. Any time a patient presss their call light and we answer them. Typically they either want pain medications, which is something I will let the nurse know or they want to use the bathroom in which case I assist. Other requests are tended too on an ongoing basis : requests for water, ambulating patients, etc. Also ongoing are random tasks the nurses will ask, like reattaching EKG leads, taking a discharged patient downstairs to the lobby, doing a bladder scanner, getting random supplies (like nasal cannulas, 02 cylinders, IV pumps, IV poles, etc), putting on condom catheters, assisting with postmortem care (thankfully doesn't occur a lot, but it does happen) , collecting SCD pumps, assists with transfers, taking someone's vitals again (for different medications the nurses sometimes need an extra set of vitals or they typically will want one before calling the doctor, etc). Sometimes you will be acting as a sitter for the entire night or a portion of the night. Sometimes you are a sitter for an hour to give the sitter a break. Also, new admissions: helping with transfers and setting up the rooms. It can be a myriad of unexpected things that take up a large portion of the night shift!
As soon as I get report it is time to start vitals due at 8 p.m. I go to each of my patient's rooms, introduce myself, tell them who their nurse will be for the night shift, write name/date/nurse/my name on the white board in the room. I take vital signs and record them. I am very organized about this and make sure to report any abnormalities to the nurse. If they are borderline abnormal I will wait until I have collected all my vitals to report. If they are way out of the normal range I report to the nurses immediately. I keep track of having told them or not because it can be easy to forget to report something abnormal. You want your nurses informed. I will also grab left over dinner trays if they are in the room and record intake on my patients.
I then go around to each of my nurses and give them my vitals sheet and have them look at it because it typically takes me awhile to get to charting the information and I want them to know the information as soon as possible. I ask the nurses which of their patients are able to take a shower if they want one and ask them who they'd like to bathe with me later in the night. We try to roughly set up a time when we are going to do the bathes. Sometimes I'll do 5-6 baths in the night, other times we don'd do any it depends a lot. If there are any people who are on 1-1 feeds I will typically do that right after reporting vitals.
Then it is off to do blood sugar checks. I do quality controls on the blood sugar machines and go to take my blood sugars. I report all the values to the nurses.
Hopefully at this time I have time to do my charting. I chart all of my vital signs, whatever intake and output I have recorded, and whatever call light responses I have attended to (any people I've taken to the bathroom or cleaned up, etc). I will help nurses with boosting patients up in bed and turns.
At this point it is typically around 11 p.m and it is time to once again do a round of vital signs. I go into each of my patient's rooms and do the vital signs in the same way as I did them before (noting and reporting abnormalities). At this point I also try and see what is needed for the room because we stock rooms. I will note down what rooms need gloves, linen bags and trash bags. I also empty any drains that my patients have on this round (foleys, other drains, etc) and record the information. I try and grab a few of the trash bags and linen bags at this point as well.
At this point it is typically around 12:30 to one o clock. The rest of the night is spent catching up on charting and answering call lights. between now and 3 o clock is typically our "slowest" time (not that it is ever slow). At this point after turning everyone again we all typically try to take our breaks, we combine our breaks to take a full hour.
After turning the Q2's again, at three o clock it is time to start vitals again. Again, immediately after I report abnormalities. Also during this round of vitals I try to do any of the extra tasks (like daily weights, etc)
Then typically we do any baths (me and the nurse assigned for that patient, or occasionally me and the other aide and sometimes by myself which I hate doing alone bcasue it takes 10 times longer!) and turn our q2's again.
At this point it is typically around 5-6 a.m. Then I pass out waters, grab any leftover linen bags (especially from the ones we bathed) and trash bags . I then empty all the drains again.
Then it is time to chart all of this information and get organized for report. Then it is reporting off to the day time aides.
It is typically a very busy night. I realized that I wrote an epic novel but that is really what happens on a "typical" night shift at the hospital. It is busy busy busy job but it is INVALUABLE experience for nursing school. The nurses respect me because I work my arse off - they know it and thank me for it in some way every night that I work. After getting their respect, they let me do a lot of procedures (under their watchful eye, of course) that we learn in school and they go out of their way to show me cool things (ever listened to a bruie or a heart mumor? ever got to put in catheters? ever got to flush IV's? ever got to hang IV's? not at clinical. I have at work!). I work with a great group of people. Of course every group will have it's lazy sectors, but thankfully, I respect about 80% of the people I work with and they mostly have good work ethics.