How to survive 16h shifts...

  1. Hey all of you super human nurses... Any tricks on how to get by those long 16h shifts?

    I'm a new graduate working on a cardio floor in a big teaching hospital and I've got some nasty 16h shifts comming up ( quite many ) ... What are your tricks to surviving those? If any? Oh, and these are 4pm to 8 am shift...

    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 6, '13
  2. Visit lydzMtl profile page

    About lydzMtl

    Joined: Feb '13; Posts: 27; Likes: 1


  3. by   lei7
    I work 3-11, but I pick up 11-7's quite often (to make a double). My two keys to staying awake are: 1. caffeine, and 2. keeping as busy as possible. My typical sleep schedule is about 4a-1pm on a regular basis too, so that helps.

    Good luck! It most likely won't be as bad as you're expecting!
  4. by   RNperdiem
    Are the 16 hour shifts by choice or have you been scheduled this way? If so, is this a short-term or long-term thing?
    Super long shifts are OK once in a while or for the short run.
    Anyway, pack a change of socks and a toothbrush for some mid-shift freshening up.
  5. by   lydzMtl
    Yeah well its pre schedualled for a few nights not a long term thing but i think that in the next weeks i have about 7 or 8 comming up... About one double shift every few days and they call me everyday to make more doubles( i think they wanna kill me).

    The toothbrush is an awsome idea ! I wish i could just take a shower around 5 am to wake up thats the worst par of the night i find... Between 4 and 6...
  6. by   Laboratorian
    <----Not a nurse but I'm always working 16hr shifts.

    1. Prepare for the days ahead. You don't want to spend excess time at home cleaning and ironing and cooking.
    2. GET PROPER SLEEP! As soon as you get in you need to be hitting the sack.
    3. Stay hydrated. I didn't believe this this when I was younger but I notice the difference now. I don't hit that fatigue wall at 12 hours.
  7. by   lydzMtl
    Thnks ill keep that in mind but isnt it hard to prepare when you are working the evening shift 4 to 00 everyday before that?
  8. by   dah doh
    I do 16 hr and sometimes 20 hr shifts when they are short staffed. I work day shift so about the 18th hour when everyone's asleep, I "hit the wall". I usually eat another meal around the 13-14th hour and start coffee or caffeine drinks soon afterwards. It helps to keep busy anyway you can (hygiene care, care planning, stuffing charts, stock IV tray, take a walk, etc). It helps if you know the shift is coming so you can get plenty of sleep beforehand, but I'm never pre-scheduled so I don't know to try to get extra sleep. Be extra careful driving home because you will be extra tired. I don't do a lot of these doubles anymore because it can talk a couple days to recover from it. Good Luck!
  9. by   lydzMtl
    Thanks for the advise and tricks... If you guys have more ill gladly try them! Who else works those extra shifts just for the money cuz seriousely they are terrible!
  10. by   Laboratorian
    Quote from lydzMtl
    Thnks ill keep that in mind but isnt it hard to prepare when you are working the evening shift 4 to 00 everyday before that?
    How early do you get your schedule? The first off day you have is the day you will spend prepping.

    Like today is Saturday 2/2. I'm off work Sunday 2/3 and Monday 2/4.
    I'm going to spend those day preparing for tues-sunday where I will be working doubles.
  11. by   Laboratorian
    Oh, one more thing.
    I keep hearing about how nurses don't even have time to pee.
    You HAVE to pee. You won't be able to concentrate with a full bladder.
    You must make time to pee.
  12. by   Sun0408
    Learn to say NO, they will take advantage of you if you let them and don't let them guilt you into some thing that is too much or unsafe. This will lead to burn out as a new grad learning the ropes. You need your time off to unwind and refuel. A 16h shift here and there is fine, more than one a schedule is taking advantage of you and not hiring. I know some nurses that only work 2 16s a week but that's what they signed up for and prefer.
  13. by   lydzMtl
    For example i work saturday 2/2 sunday 2/3 monday 2/4 16h so i sleep all day tuesday ... Then i work wed 6/2 thurs 7/2 friday 8/2 16h shift... Off saturday night sunday also... Kinda crazy right???
  14. by   funfunfun550
    Try NOT to preschedule doubles...some places that is illegal?? At least where I can not preschedule 16 but you can "pick up" after the schedule is posted.....fishy huh...try to work an extra day but not doubles...reason is that there is a law suit or two out there(easy to google) where nurses made med errors on the end of that double and they were hung out to dry. You are still liable for your actions...and it will be easier to make you look like you were not "fit for duty". I just want you to protect your license ANd not get burned out. You say you are a new grad... I can remember those days...people would call.. I would say yes..than after the call ended I would feel like I needed to grow a back bone. Eventually I did...I made it a policy to say I would consider the extra shift. At least hang up and give it some thought... Or say you will work your 12 and then see how you feel to pick up an extra 4. Sometimes you may feel ill and calling off is going to be counted against you. If you left it open and were feeling ill... you could just go home. What if its one of those days when you just wish the day would be over have the assignment from hell...and you are stuck there for will wish you had left yourself some options...