Is it best for the new nurse to start with night shift?

  1. Is it best for a new nurse who wants to work in medsurg at a hospital to start with the night shift? I would think it would be a slower pace so that you can focus more on how to use the computer and how to document on it, etc. For those who have worked both day and night shifts, what do you think?
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    About northmississippi

    Joined: Dec '09; Posts: 413; Likes: 166
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    26 Comments

  3. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from northmississippi
    Is it best for a new nurse who wants to work in medsurg at a hospital to start with the night shift? I would think it would be a slower pace so that you can focus more on how to use the computer and how to document on it, etc. For those who have worked both day and night shifts, what do you think?
    I never worked days, but was required to orient on days as a new graduate for several months. I'm a night person and always have been, so that's how I chose my preferred shift. At night, there are definitely fewer people around. That can be good in some ways, but bad in some ways too. The doctor isn't going to "stop by" in a few hours, you have to decide whether to call and wake them up. Your patient needs to go to a procedure? Well, there are no transporters at night so you're going to be taking them yourself. Need STAT labs? You're dealing with a skeleton lab crew and that might take two hours. Need to reach family for consent? They're all sleeping and won't be calling back. Your new admission is hungry? Starving? The cafeteria is CLOSED. It's also a myth that patients sleep at night. They don't. In fact, many of them get extra agitated and restless. Some employers expect night shift to bath everyone and do all wound care, too ...because it's slower on nights.
    The two best things about night shift are no nursing managers (usually) and a lot fewer discharges. I hate discharges, always have. I'd rather have four admissions than one discharge.
  4. by   klone
    There is no one right answer. It is completely dependent upon the unit, both in terms of the types of patients you see, as well as the culture and skill mix of an individual unit.
  5. by   Ninjanurse51
    Nights is horrible on your body both mentally and physically. If you can start on day shift I would so that in a heartbeat!
  6. by   Luckyyou
    Quote from Ninjanurse51
    Nights is horrible on your body both mentally and physically. If you can start on day shift I would so that in a heartbeat!
    This isn't true for everyone. I'm a (significantly) skinnier and happier person after seven years of nights.
  7. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from Luckyyou
    This isn't true for everyone. I'm a (significantly) skinnier and happier person after seven years of nights.
    Me too. I feel dizzy and nauseous when I have to be up early in the morning.
  8. by   caliotter3
    Your entire experience, be it night or day shift, can be colored by the attitude and helpfulness of the personnel around you. If you have a preceptor with a bad attitude, who answers every question with snark, you won't have a good orientation period. It does not matter if you are on days, nights, or swing shift. On the other hand, if your preceptor is a good egg and gives you a good orientation, you will be able to work any shift, with only the side circumstances to adjust to.
  9. by   JKL33
    Quote from northmississippi
    Is it best for a new nurse who wants to work in medsurg at a hospital to start with the night shift? I would think it would be a slower pace so that you can focus more on how to use the computer and how to document on it, etc. For those who have worked both day and night shifts, what do you think?
    I think that on some units there is a bit of a lull at some point on the night shift. That being said, this idea that nights is by definition a slower pace is fairly effectively negated because the unit is staffed accordingly. In other words, they're pretty good at staffing to keep idle time to a minimum on both shifts. The ambience might be different to promote rest for the patients, but the pace isn't so much.

    I think factors other than shift contribute more to someone's opportunity to learn - mostly the unit's culture and commitment to helping novice and beginner nurses. As you look for positions it would be good to try to get a good idea of those variables and worry less about the shift unless there's a reason you can't work one or the other.

    Good luck!
  10. by   BettyBdaisy
    New nurse here giving my perspective. I was hired on for a day/night position but prefer to work only nights, and my employer was more than willing to schedule me straight nights due to the lack of enthusiasm of others to work it. I have worked nights for most of my working career so nights just suit me. During the first few months though, I forced myself to work at least 3 day shifts per schedule. I did this to force myself to learn the somewhat faster pace of days: the Dr. rounding, continuous stream of surgical admits and discharges, heavy AM med passes and crazier daily schedule. I did this because as a new nurse I need to learn and learn quickly. I have already had the chance to see and do so much more than the new grads on night shift, so to me its worth it to put some time in on days.
  11. by   psu_213
    There are some people who love nights, some who hate them. Some who only work night because they have to, some who work nights because they this its great. In other words, no one can really say which is better--healthwise anyway--for any other nurse.

    As someone else said, whether is not straight nights is good for a new nurse depends on the unit. I worked on a unit where days were crazy and a lot of new nurses felt like the experience nurses didn't help them as much as they should and that the experienced nurses were not the role models/mentors they should have been.

    OTOH, the pace at night was, generally, less hectic, and the night crew featured several experienced nurses who were great teachers. Every helped everyone--nurses, techs, the whole team.

    This is certainly not the case everywhere, but there is nothing that says night shift isn't great for new nurses.
  12. by   brandy1017
    It's true it's a slower pace and in my experience there is more of a team effort and a live and let live attitude, but the bottom line is can you sleep during the day and function ok. Some can, some can't. Nurse.com has a couple nurse CEU's about working night shift and tips to cope. I was really impressed by the webinars' and I had no idea how fatigue during the night shift have lead to many disasters outside of nursing like Chernobyl, Bhopal and the recent Navy crashes. Fortunately, it didn't leave it there it mentioned tips to get enough to rest such as wear sunglasses before you step outside after your shift, nap in your car if you aren't safe enough to drive home, try to have 4 hours of anchor sleep everyday at the same time such as 8-12 noon, taking melatonin before bed may help, and using blackout curtains and a sleep mask to block the light since light lowers melatonin in our body that we need to sleep. The presenter was excellent and started a night shift residency program to help prepare new grads. I was so impressed with her knowledge and qualifications. It was the best nursing presentation I've seen in years. I highly recommend checking the 2 courses on nurse.com Healthcare Fatigue and Fatigue Countermeasures (bonus they are free at this time) for anyone that is working night shift.
    Last edit by brandy1017 on May 10
  13. by   Daisy Joyce
    Learning how to document on the computer will be the least of your problems on med surg.
    Your success will have more to do with the quality of your preceptorship and your own willingness to learn and make friends on the floor.
  14. by   /username
    I started on nights. I think it's much better for learning as it's slower and provides for a much better experience for both patient care and mentoring, which is crucial during the first year of being a nurse.

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