Having to work the Night Shift!

  1. Hi All,

    Two local hospitals in my area offer a scholarship program, which they will pay for my nursing classes in return for a 1 year agreement to work for them for every year of schooling they pay for. I've spoken to a nurse recruiter at both to get an idea of the pay/benefits/scheduling before I committ myself to either. Both of them say that they cannot guarantee a day shift, they just guarantee you a full time job. The hospital that pays the most and has the best benefits seems to mainly have 12 hr. shifts. I am concerned because I have never worked nights in my life! I have always had a 9 to 5. I usually don't go to bed later than 11pm, even on the weekends. I just wonder how I will be able to handle having to work nights if I have no choice. I am really petrified of a 12 hour night shift. They both said they try their best to accomodate the new grads, but I have to realize that there is no guarantee and I may very well end up working nights. I am a single mom, so I kinda had my heart set on working days and most of my friends that work at these hospitals act like you can work whatever schedule you like, maybe for RN's with experience already. Is there anything I can do to prepare myself for working nights? Any suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks.

  2. Visit TristateRN profile page

    About TristateRN

    Joined: May '03; Posts: 81


  3. by   flowerchild
    Negotiate, and get it in writing, signed by them and you. If they really want you, they will do what ever it takes to get you to work for them.
    I worked nights while I was in school and it worked out well b/c I could take classes during the morning and work at night. Slept between school and work, and sometimes even in my car between classes. LOL.
  4. by   James Huffman
    I'm a morning person, too -- to bed at 11 or so, and up -- even on vacation -- at 6 or so. That having been said, I also worked straight nights for 9 months long ago. I've also done my share of rotation to nights. It's not impossible, but I'm concerned about your committing yourself to nights when you are a single mother. Depending on the age of your children, that can be dicey, and even if they are a little older, you might not want them left alone there for over 12 hours straight. I agree with flowerchild: negotiate hard, and GET IT IN WRITING. If they want you badly enough, they'll accomodate you.

    Even a morning person can survive nights by some tricks. They include (for me, at least):

    1. I go to bed as soon as I get off work. If the sun's out, wear sunglasses, to try and trick your body into thinking it's still dark.

    2. Make the room where you're sleeping as dark as possible.

    3. White noise, please: a small fan at your head keeps you cool, and blocks out sound.

    4. An answering machine, of course. And turn off the telephone ringer.

    5. Eat lightly at work: no heavy carbs, lots of protein, and caffeine. I'm not a coffee fan, but I AM a Southerner, so I always bring along a big thermos of iced tea.

    6. If you have to work nights, you CAN get used to it, though it will take a while. And I found that nights was the time I often got to do real nursing, as opposed to management tasks and shuffling paperwork. Nights bring out the fear and the pain in your patients. You may grow to like the chance to do what you are there to do.

    Jim Huffman, RN

  5. by   USA987

    I'm a morning person by nature....but I will be working nights. Thanks for all the tips and positive outlook!

  6. by   Tweety
    Good luck! I've worked nights so long, I don't know what my trick is. Just keep it in their ear that you prefer days and maybe you'll get lucky. Even after you're hired and if you get put on nights, whenever your manager asks how things are going, be sure to include in addition that nights are rough and you're hoping to work days.

    12 hour nights can be very rough if one doesn't sleep. So the other suggestion is to try to get a schedule where you only work two in a row so that if you're not sleeping well you're not on a stretch of days killing yourself.

    Good luck!
  7. by   VickyRN
    I worked nights for 5 years straight and prior to this, had NEVER worked a night shift before in my life. I actually preferred nights. I found that night shift was USUALLY (but not always) a whole lot calmer than day shift. ALSO, avoiding the "suits" and hospital politics that are on dayshift made it very worthwhile.
  8. by   mistersleepy
    I am a new nurse (1 year) who works in a high acuity regional ICU. I chose to come to work where I am when I graduated largely because I wouldn't have to work nights. Once I started working, I discovered that nights are a much better place for a new nurse. My wife and I are "genetically" morning people but I have adapted and now I work straight weekend nights (it's a lot slower and a lot more money.)

    You will probably discover that you can adapt, however, with the current nursing shortage and the fairly low cost of school I might rethink locking yourself into a contract at this point.
  9. by   GAstudent
    My fist night shift was last night. I am also a morning person. When I got off work at 7 this morning and came home and took a shower..I went straight to sleep...you will go to sleep and have no problem. But I did not wake up until 4. Stinks because now I have to go back to work...I only do it on the weekends. Maybe if you just let them pay and then when time comes they will have an opening and then if they don't then I would put in a spot for first position that comes open on first.good luck
  10. by   robred
    go to http://www.sleepfoundation.org/publi...iftworker.html

    they have alot of helpful tips for those who work nites...i don't choose to work nites out of desire, but out of personal necessity. It's tough, but workable (no pun intended)
  11. by   Kat1
    :zzzzz Hi, I have worked nights off and on for years and can give you a few pointers. First let me say that it has some perks: The kids will be in school while you are sleeping!! Babysitters are usually cheaper because they are sleeping too. You never miss a holiday, Might lose some sleep though. The work load is usually less hectic, although by no means less work...

    To begin with before committing to this job you might want to spend a week or two trying to stay up late and sleeping enduring the day. It will give you some idea about whether you can handle it.
    Once you have the job, again repeat the first suggestion, increasing the time you are awake to a later time each night.
    set your eating habits so that you eat "breakfast" when you get up, one meal at work and maybe one when you get home. Try not to eat enduring the day. What you want to avoid is eating 24 hours a day.
    hope this helps. Let me know if I can be of more help.