graveyard shift?

  1. I was wondering if it would be easy to work on graveyard shift? Do alot of nurses want this shift? What kind of things are different on this shift?
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    It's easy for some, not for others. You have to be able to flip-flop your life and sleep in the daytime. I loved working nights until I got a family; there's no way it could work with my family life now, but some do very well juggling family life with graves. I worked every shift but days for the first 12 years of my career, I was a night person. I know others that could not function while working nights.
  4. by   SCRN1
    Easy? :roll
    I don't think any shift is easy.

    I work nights only because it's the best shift for me to work and be available should I be needed during the day for my kids.

    Some pros are that you don't have as many patients leaving the floor for surgeries, other procedures & tests and trying to keep up with who's gone where. The nurses station isn't as crowded, so you can always find a computer to do your charting and you can get to a chart a lot easier than during the day shift. If you're lucky, you'll have quiet nights and your patients will sleep and won't be assigned someone with Sundowners. The best thing about it is the shift differential.

    On the other hand, it seems like we have more to code during the night or just before shift change. We have less staff at night and sometimes NO tech or someone to watch the monitors. We have to do the 24 hr chart checks and if something gets overlooked, guess who gets the blame? Not the nurse on days who signed off on it first without making sure it was ordered. Try calling a doctor at 3 a.m. to give results on something that was ordered at 10 a.m. and they fuss at you and want to know why they weren't called earlier. We also have to check off the MARs at night for the next day. Sometimes, it's wee hours of the morning before you get a chance to check off charts or MARs and then you find that something that was supposed to have been given, wasn't. Or something that was supposed to be D/C'd had been given because it wasn't taken off the MAR by the one taking off the order earlier. I call night shift the "clean up shift" because when we come in, we're already behind because the nurse on day shift didn't have time. However, we cannot use that excuse. The cafeteria is closed. So, if you plan on eating, you either have to bring it with you or order out...that is, before the restaurants who deliver close.

    A lot of people have the popular misconception that patients sleep at night and the nurses don't have much to do. Ha! Some patients are in pain and can't sleep no matter what you give them...or wake up every 1-3 hours. Some people have sundowners and you have to keep an eye on them so they don't hurt themselves. Or they're confused for another reason. Some slept all day and can't sleep at night. Some have trouble sleeping in a strange bed.

    Another misconception is that the doctors are there more during the day. Well, I go in at 7 p.m. and that's when lots of docs come in after they leave the office. Around 5-6 a.m. more come in. Each time, it's orders that the night shift is supposed to see to. I know there's many orders during the day too. I'm not saying there isn't. But, don't think there can't be just as many that fall on night shift. They also come in throughout the shift when there's an admission.

    As for admissions at night, I can't tell you the number of times I've had patients or family who were angry because they spent all day long in the ER and didn't get sent to a room until about 3 a.m. Lots are also angry that they haven't eaten all day and now they're upset because we can't get them a "real meal" since the cafeteria is closed. Some are satisified with the cereal or crackers & peanut butter we can give them, but many aren't. So guess who catches the brunt of their anger?

    Don't think day shift has to do all the things, such as dressing changes. Lots of times, they're ordered BID or TID. So, the night shift does just as many. When they're ordered daily, we have some nurses who never have enough time. So those get put off on night shift too.

    OK, you asked for it. Here's a little insight into what it's like working nights where I work.
    Last edit by SCRN1 on Jan 29, '07
  5. by   Christie RN2006
    I just switched to night shift and I personally like it much better. The night shift people are more relaxed about certain things and they work very well together. My first night shift was horrible, but it truely showed me how different the shifts are. Other nurses were coming to me asking me how they could help instead of me having to go beg people to help me.

    The only thing I absolutely dread about is calling the doctors in the middle of the night... If you do work night shift and you have to call a doctor, do yourself (and the doctor) a favor and have everything together before you call. Know their last vitals, lab results, meds, etc. or else you will have a very tired and grumpy doctor yelling at you.

    Like the person above me said, a lot of crap gets left for the night shift nurses to catch up on such as care plans, dressing changes, tubing changes, etc. Day shift people seem to have this mentality that all night shift does is sit around and do nothing, but so far, I have been busier on night shift than I ever was on day shift.

    On the up side, like I said earlier I actually do like night shift better. You just need to figure out what works for you. Right now I really have no specific sleeping pattern. So, if you are the type of person that has to have a specific amount of sleep at a specific time, then night shift is NOT for you. Another plus is shift diffs
    Last edit by Christie RN2006 on Jan 29, '07 : Reason: oops :)
  6. by   Roy Fokker
    Quote from SCRN1
    Easy? :roll
    I don't think any shift is easy.

    I work nights only because it's the best shift for me to work and be

    <snip>

    , we have some nurses who never have enough time. So those get put off on night shift too.

    OK, you asked for it. Here's a little insight into what it's like working nights where I work.
    Great post!
  7. by   Myxel67
    I worked nights for 9 years--probably while I'm still awake now! I like 8 hour shifts much better than 12's. Christie is right about most staff being more relaxed and less critical. Nights can be hard on your health. There is research showing more health problems and reduced life expectancy relating to night shift work. More depression--night shift affects serotonin levels in the brain. Be sure to drink plenty of water--I developed kidney stones a year after moving to 12 hour nights.
  8. by   NewEastCoastRN
    SCRN1 really sums up my thoughts on the night shift perfectly. All shifts are hard for various reasons, and he/she really highlighted what the night shift entails. One aspect of working nights that I am getting sick of is not being able to sleep at night/being exhausted during the day. Case in point, I am up posting on allnurses.com at 1:20 a.m. on my day off. Sigh...
  9. by   Christie RN2006
    Quote from NewEastCoastRN
    One aspect of working nights that I am getting sick of is not being able to sleep at night/being exhausted during the day. Case in point, I am up posting on allnurses.com at 1:20 a.m. on my day off. Sigh...
    LOL I know exactly how you feel!! Nothing like being up at 1:30am on your day off...
  10. by   Roy Fokker
    I maintain my fixed routine - even on days off.

    I try and sleep 9-5 ... when my family is outta the house anyway. This gives us "together time" in the evening and then they go to bed when I go to work.
  11. by   Hoozdo
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    I maintain my fixed routine - even on days off.

    I try and sleep 9-5 ... when my family is outta the house anyway. This gives us "together time" in the evening and then they go to bed when I go to work.
    Me too. I could never flip flop my sleep around and remain sharp on the job for 12 hour shifts.
  12. by   BrnEyedGirl
    "Hoozdo;2041356]Me too. I could never flip flop my sleep around and remain sharp on the job for 12 hour shifts"

    Me too,.....can occasionally push my sleep time back a bit in order to be awake durring the day on the weekends,..say sleep 4am to 10am,..but I still usually feel like most "normal" people probably feel when they are still awake at 4am,..like I should be asleep!! and I'm off tonight,.it's 0330,.my family is all asleep,..I'm here
  13. by   sanctuary
    Quote from greenr06
    I was wondering if it would be easy to work on graveyard shift? Do alot of nurses want this shift? What kind of things are different on this shift?

    Though all following posters replied by using the term night shift, or NOC shift, I'd like to remind folke that "Graveyard" and "Swing" are factory terms, and that PMs, Evenings or Afternoon shifts are hospital terms, as are NOCs and nights. Now, really, do you want a "graveyard" shift in a hospital??? :lol_hitti
  14. by   seeandwhy
    Night shift in my floor is different than the day shifts because we are more of a task oriented. Day shifts change the IV lines, update the protocols, presents the updated cases of each patient to the multi-disciplinary team, etc while night shifts- draw labs and as soon as results come up, we replete all electrolytes,give trasfusion, order CXR - we do not have available doctors in the floor at night, just nurses and 1 aide but we are guided by our protocols so we just know what to do next. Of course, we have on-call MD who is a Fellow because the MDs in my floor are Attendings or Fellows only, we do not have Residents. Therefore, night shift is sometimes scary but we are already used to it but if in cases we really need a doctor to be present, we call the Medical-Respiratory ICU doctor in another floor. But actually, it is better to work nights because less people to see, more quite but differential is great.

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