Shift work help.

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    I am a fairly new grad RN with a year and a half of experience on a medical unit. In my first year, I focused on shaping my critical thinking skills and communication skills with patients, families, and the interdisciplinary team. I would say I am fairly comfortable working as an RN now. For the past half year, I find myself less concerned about my skills set (still embracing learning opportunities though) and more anxious about shift work itself. I find myself less and less able to recover on my days off in between sets of shifts (tired even after I sleep for eight hours). I was able to schedule in some exercise time during my vacation but has stopped since work resumed. I have friends and coworkers who work overtime lots. I don't understand how they do it. I have thought about cutting back on the hours but I do need the full-time hours. But for my health (physically and mentally), I think it's best if I leave shift work latest by beginning of next year. While I am interested in specializing in critical care/icu, I understand that it will still be shift work. The other option (or rather, the only option) is dialysis. I know there is the option of ambulatory care/MI but I don't feel that I qualify for those positions based on the job description/qualifications and maybe it a bit to do with personality as well.

    As an experienced nurse, what are your recommendations/advice for me? Should I stay another year on my unit to gain more experience? I find myself shying away from hanging out with my friends too just so I can have more time to myself. I am aware of signs of depression and will talk to my gp about it. Thanks for your comments!
  2. 20 Comments so far...

  3. 2
    I hate to tell you this but Dialysis units do shift work. Satellites are open until 2300, so most that work there are on a day/evening rotation. Inpatient Dialysis is round the clock.

    Are you doing 12s or 8s? I find 12s destructive to health and well being. I spent the first day and a half just recovering and then had to rush everything to get ready for the next set. Will never, ever do them again.

    There are in reality very few jobs that are straight days. Clinics, outpatients all in the hospital usually require a huge amount of seniority to get into. Outside the hospital setting, there are doctors offices, some private testing companies, etc. But these jobs are going more towards LPN hiring due to wage costs.

    Have you considered Public Health?
    joanna73 and loriangel14 like this.
  4. 1
    Hi Fiona59, thanks for your reply! I do 12s. The hospital I am at finishes dialysis at 2300 and there's always someone on call. I better do more research into that! I have considered doctors offices but seems impossible to get into one! If dialysis doesn't work, perhaps I should get a masters and teach. I have always enjoyed working with students. Thanks again for your reply. I am starting to get a better idea of my options as I am typing this!
    Fiona59 likes this.
  5. 2
    Quote from frozenyogurt
    I am a fairly new grad RN with a year and a half of experience on a medical unit. In my first year, I focused on shaping my critical thinking skills and communication skills with patients, families, and the interdisciplinary team. I would say I am fairly comfortable working as an RN now. For the past half year, I find myself less concerned about my skills set (still embracing learning opportunities though) and more anxious about shift work itself. I find myself less and less able to recover on my days off in between sets of shifts (tired even after I sleep for eight hours). I was able to schedule in some exercise time during my vacation but has stopped since work resumed. I have friends and coworkers who work overtime lots. I don't understand how they do it. I have thought about cutting back on the hours but I do need the full-time hours. But for my health (physically and mentally), I think it's best if I leave shift work latest by beginning of next year. While I am interested in specializing in critical care/icu, I understand that it will still be shift work. The other option (or rather, the only option) is dialysis. I know there is the option of ambulatory care/MI but I don't feel that I qualify for those positions based on the job description/qualifications and maybe it a bit to do with personality as well.

    As an experienced nurse, what are your recommendations/advice for me? Should I stay another year on my unit to gain more experience? I find myself shying away from hanging out with my friends too just so I can have more time to myself. I am aware of signs of depression and will talk to my gp about it. Thanks for your comments!

    wanted to say that with teaching altho your hours might 'officially' be day, you will spend twice that at home, late into the night, and on the weekends doing paperwork. at least that is what my teaching friends say! they miss the, leave work at work atmosphere.
    loriangel14 and Fiona59 like this.
  6. 0
    I know a lot of nurses where I have worked have a shift buddy, so they are able to only work the type of shift they want (ie all nights or all days). Not sure if that may be something that would help. I have been a full time weekend worker for the past 7 years, and dread the thought of going back to a regular rotating shift schedule.
  7. 0
    Quote from Bubbles_RN
    I know a lot of nurses where I have worked have a shift buddy, so they are able to only work the type of shift they want (ie all nights or all days). Not sure if that may be something that would help. I have been a full time weekend worker for the past 7 years, and dread the thought of going back to a regular rotating shift schedule.
    Bubbles, I'm not sure where in Canada you work but I know that in my province your schedule wouldn't fly. Our contracts give us every other weekend off and if you work that weekend you are meant to be off, you go into double time.

    There have been arrangements where some nurses have swapped off one shift in a 12 week rotation that they loathe. But after it's been tracked for a year, their managers step in and either put a stop to it or rework their rotation.

    It's a fact of life that most nurses will work rotating shifts in any facilty setting in Canada. D/N if you work 12s or on 8s either D/E, D/N. It's something you are exposed to as a student as you have to work your preceptors rotation.
  8. 0
    Hi Fiona,

    I work in Ontario, in the GTA. A full time weekend worker is allowed under our union contract. Also, I've been fortunate to work for some amazing managers, who will let nurses swap to work either full time days or full time nights.

    I do in fact realize that most nurses work rotating shifts, and I did my share prior to having my first child. Like I said I've been very fortunate to find a great life/work balance schedule.
  9. 0
    Weekend and night shift scheduling provisions in the collective agreements in Alberta refer ONLY to schedules set by the employer. Anyone who voluntarily chooses to work all weekends does not attract any penalties for the employer - ie double time for the "extra" weekends or nights. UNA's collective agreement also includes a weekend worker provision that allows a nurse to choose to work permanent weekends with a 0.8 FTE worked but are paid at full time. The remainder of the FTE is coded as paid LOA. 12 hour units have the nurse work Fri-Sat-Sun one week, Sat-Sun the second week and Sat-Sun-Mon the third week. Over twelve weeks that works out to 0.8.

    There are many arrangements between staff nurses that swap one nurse's days for the other nurse's nights and as long as the parties are doing it voluntarily no one turns a hair. The collective agreements also say that should a person wish to work permanent nights the employer shall not unreasonably deny it.
  10. 0
    I am in the GTA as well. There are "short-stay surgical units" in some hospitals which are only open for daytime and evening hours. Maybe you could look into that. I also believe that most Perioperative Nurses work straight 8 hour day shifts- some work evenings/weekends as well but they are 8 hour shifts.
    There are many options for you as a nurse! Do not feel as if you have to stick to 12 hour shifts for the rest of your working life. Look into different clinics, public health, and home care!
  11. 2
    I am an RN in the GTA (Ontario). I have a huge problem with doing shift work. I cannot physically and mentally do it. I realize it is part of nursing but not all nurses are the same. For me my future is going to be working in long term care because in many cases you can stay on one shift. If LTC is not for you, as you sound like an acute care nurse, maybe switching to casual would help. I have a job full time at a hospital right now as well and I will soon be resigning / switching to casual because I cannot do the shifts. It is really a horrible part of nursing, for those who cannot handle it. Good luck to you, I hope you can find something that works. What about a job with the CCAC? They offer full time days I believe.
    joanna73 and Fiona59 like this.


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