How long does it take to get used to it?

  1. How long does it take to get used to 12h shifts and working as a nurse? I just started my first job last week. Worked 3 12's in a row and it about killed me. I'm definitely a wimp. My feet are throbbing and were swollen after the first day. I am working med surg in a smaller hospital. I feel very incompetent, but I do think I'll really, really like working there. Any advice on how to make the adjustment period more pleasant?
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    About MilliePieRN

    Joined: Aug '12; Posts: 176; Likes: 359


  3. by   TheCommuter
    Once upon a time I was a factory worker who worked 12-hour rotating shifts prior to becoming a nurse, so I was already acclimated to long shifts by the time I got into nursing. I actually prefer 12s because I'd rather not show up to work five days per week.

    Anyhow, the foot soreness disappears in 3 to 4 weeks. You'll also notice your stamina improving as time passes. I suggest wearing TED hose or support stockings while working because they really help minimize the swelling. I also suggest getting your shoes fitted with orthotics for added support.

    I achieve the most foot comfort from wearing athletic running shoes, such as Nike Reax, to work. Others prefer clogs such as Dansko. Still, other nurses swear by nursing shoes such as the lines made by NurseMates or Cherokee Rockers.

    Some people never become accustomed to the 12-hour shifts and prefer 8-hour shifts. However, you'd have to pry the 12-hour shifts from my cold fingers because I love them to death (really).
  4. by   newohiorn
    I think it probably takes about six months to a year to get used to working as a nurse but, at least for me, you're still always learning. I'm eight years in and still wish I could buy the 20-years of experience out of a seasoned nurse's brain. My first year I also worked med surg and it seemed like good and bad days alternated--good thing because I would have lost my mind. Appreciate the good days in order to gear up for the bad ones. Find a friend or two on the unit as they will make all the difference in the world. A smart, hard-working tech saved my ass more times than I like to admit.

    I can't speak to 12-hr days. I've done a few here and there but I'm an 8-hr girl. I find 12-hr shift + being an introvert = no good for anyone in my case.
  5. by   ponymom
    I could have written the exact same post as TheCommuter. I was also a former 12 hr factory gal prior to nursing (as an aside, I have returned to the factory setting, but that's a different topic), so was used to being on my feet for long periods. I always purchased the very best footwear I could afford and wear (still) custom orthotics and support pantyhose (I don't care for stockings) on the job. Spend the money, it's expensive, but you pay for quality and you won't regret it. At the end of your shift you'll feel as if you can go another, I've done many, many double shifts working as a CNA for the first go, and then finishing up my double as floor LPN. The proper footwear and hose made all the difference. BTW, I'm in my mid-50's. Also, it'd be a hard fight to pull 12hr shifts from my hands! I got so used to 16s that 12s seemed like working a half-day.
  6. by   melizerd
    I love 12s! After two weeks I was doing alright. I bought some Danskos and while my feet are tired they don't hurt at the end of the day.

    I go home, eat and go to bed though, nothing else on the nights when I have to work the next day.
  7. by   Ruby Vee
    Invest in good shoes. Some folks swear by support hose as well, but I hate 'em.

    Your stamina will increase over time; using the gym on days off or running or swimming -- some sort of exercise -- will help that. Really. It may take a few months, but you'll acclimate. I love 12 hour shifts -- would never want to be at work five days a week!

    As far as feeling incompetent -- it takes about two years to be fully competent, but the first year is the roughest. We've all been through it and come out the other end. You will too!
  8. by   DisneyNurseGal
    I am 6 months in and I have gotten used to the schedule, but still not 100% comfortable with the job. I find myself asking my charge alot "I feel like this is a question I should know but..." Give it time.

    Like previous posters said, invest in good shoes!!!