First off... I have worked all the shifts. Currently, I'm working an 8 hour day shift, but for the past 2 years I was working 12 hour nights.
Each shift has its own unique challenges. Days are filled with Doctors, PT, OT, RT, Case managment, implementing the many new orders placed during the day and the like. In general, it seems to me somewhat chaotic for the Nurse trying to get his/her own work accomplished while satisfying the needs of all these other entities.
PM shift is encumbered with a higher number of post-op arrivals (in the Med-Surg setting), so the task becomes one of implementing care to the patients already there, in addition to the additional time required with newly arrived post-ops. Also, there are just some tasks that cannot be completed before the PM shift arrives and this falls to them as well.
Nights... I don't know about anyone else's facility, but, there are plenty of medications to be administered (2100 and 0600, to be exact). These times can be a bit tricky because they are early in the shift, and then right near the end. Any paperwork needs, generally, to be done in the time in between. And let's not forget our patients!! For them, nights are sometimes the worst ... alone in an environment that is certainly not the norm, usually in some sort of pain or discomfort, unfamiliar noises at all hours of the night (which make it nearly IMPOSSIBLE for them to get any quality sleep, constantly on the alert for the next interruption or disturbance), a roommate that may make sleep difficult, etc... an unending list of reasons for patients to be awake and desiring the attention of a Nurse. In addition, non-nursing duties are turned over to Night Shift Nurses because of the perceived idea that they have more time available to them to perform these tasks.
The question I usually try to pose is this: Are the tasks assigned the various shifts done so because of any study that shows these are the BEST times to perform them? Or is it just "tradition"?
And why do Nurses always make the assumption that the shift prior INTENTIONALLY leaves work for the next shift? Shouldn't a Unit be a TEAM? And shouldn't we, as "Professionals", have the GRACE to understand that, when a job wasn't completed the shift before it was more than likely due to too many tasks needing attention all at the same time, rather than some conspiratorial effort on the part of the previous shift Nurses to "dump" on the next shift?
I used to subscribe to this sort of mentality. It drained all of my energy though, and left less for my patients. That's not to say that in any Profession there aren't those "slackers" who try to pass off tasks to others, or that we don't work with folks whose disorganized behavior keeps them from finishing their work, leaving it to the next shift to deal with. But I so often see Nurses pawning themselves off as "victims"... always being put upon or mistreated in some way.
OK, so I just lost my train of thought....
The point is this... Nurses allow the continued perpetuation of myths, old grudges, stereotypes and the like ... which fosters ill will among us. We're not in competition, folks... we're supposedly working towards a common goal: Patient health and well being.
So go ahead, pick up the slack for a co-worker once in awhile... go that extra step, BE the bigger person. Set an EXAMPLE of how YOU would like to be treated by first, treating others in that manner.
Only when more of us walk the talk and refuse to listen to the nay-sayers, will those stubborn heel-diggers either change their way, or move on to bleaker pastures.
Brita, no, I didn't forget you and your dilemna. It's horribly frustrating when teamwork isn't the norm, and shifts pit themselves against one another. BTDT, and of course, whenever you move to a new facility or unit, you may very likely encounter the same scenario all over again. All you can do is be the example... even the exception sometimes, and ignore the invalid complaints and comments that come your way. Look at how your own shift is run and see if there aren't things that can be changed to make the night shift routine flow a bit more easily. Talk with your Supervisor or Manger and ask for input. And please, please, give your coworkers the benefit of the doubt. Their day may have been just as chaotic as your night.