1. I've been a night shift RN for a looong time. I also do research on issues related to night shift work/ sleep problems and the 'domestic inconvenience' of shift work in general.

    I'm currently doing a massive project on how healthcare institutions impact the sleep of their night shift workers, and how they allocate certain resources differently between night and day shifts.

    So, I'm putting it out there- share your shift adaptation tips and tricks, your vents and rants - all things night shift related.

    Why? Because everybody knows- all the cool people work nights!
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    About meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

    Joined: Jun '11; Posts: 7,396; Likes: 27,600


  3. by   Biffbradford
    You're working for who? This info goes where?
  4. by   meanmaryjean
    I work for a pediatric hospital- and the info goes into an IRB approved study. Hopefully it will be publishable- I'm still in the data collection phase. I mentioned the study just by way of introducing myself. This thread is not about the study- it's about general night shift topics.

    I'm NOT looking for study participants, and apologize if you got the impression that I was.

    I started this thread as a general "I work nights and here's what I think" type of thing. No data collected, just some informal sharing nurse-to-nurse.
  5. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    I work nights and here's what I think: It's more laid back... fewer suits walking around, fewer families hanging around, and just a general light-heartedness that seems to come with being awake and working in the middle of the night (which I've experienced in three other roles since boot camp and each had this same feel).
  6. by   TheCommuter
    In my opinion, there's more teamwork during the late shift. I work nights and feel that my coworkers and I have more camaraderie than the day shift workers. Since there's less of us with even fewer resources, it is imperative that we pull together as a team to get the job done.

    I feel that night shift is overlooked, but I enjoy flying under the radar. I really do not want to see the faces of the managerial types who constantly interrupt the day shift workers with meetings, huddles, repetitive questions, complaints and other nonsense that detracts from patient care.

    Schedulers and managers do not seem to take the needs of night shift into account when they schedule inservices and other meetings at noon. Our shifts end at 7:00am, so a noon meeting for a night shift worker is similar to forcing a day shift nurse to arrive at a midnight meeting (read: it's unreasonable).
  7. by   SummerGarden
    RANT: The only thing I dislike about night shift, is the general disrespect that other shifts have for our sleep and our time off. Personally, I prefer night shift and work in the hospital setting because night shifts are offered and so I have worked night shift as a nurse more then I have ever worked a day shift by choice. With that said, I cannot stand being made to attend meetings on day shift after I have worked an entire night shift (8 or 12 hour shift) and am then too tired to drive home safely. I also do not like to be called on my days off at a time I am sound asleep for any reason.

    Meetings are usually useless to Staff RNs, so give us the message a different way.

    In the past I have complained to managers and asked that night shift workers be given a memo or notes describing the content of meetings since, in general, input from staff is not allowed. However, I have yet to have a manager provide that option except in the case of Union run positions that take safety seriously! Rather we are physically forced to show up even if we are trying to desperately to keep our eyes open or (God bless those with the guts to do it) we are sound asleep in the back of the room snoring loudly!

    Do not call us in the middle of our sleeping schedule, please!

    I do not know of any night shift Nurse Manager or Charge Nurse that disrespects a day shifter's sleep. However, day shift managers and Charge Nurses call night shift workers early in the AM or just before his/her lunch rather then wait until most of us would be awake, which is in the afternoon or just before early evening. Of course, everyone on night shift sleeps different so this is not a hard-and-fast rule. On the other hand, a wise manager of nurses could think ahead of time and gather a list of preferred times a night shift staff member prefers to be contacted during the day in order to get better staffing outcomes from those of us who may want to work an extra shift on our nights off. Just some thoughts.
  8. by   Lennonninja
    I hate it when mandatory education is scheduled from 8am to noon, after you've worked all night. No one would ever DREAM of making day shift stay until midnight for education!!

    One thing my unit offers is for our staff meetings we are able to conference call in to them. I can listen in on my drive home in the morning and make it to bed an hour earlier than if I had to stay at work for the meeting, and then still drive my hour home. It is FANTASTIC. More places should offer this.

    I really do enjoy night shift though. Our teamwork is fantastic and we all get along well, and I love not having to serve meals to patients and do all of the meal time blood sugars. I've been full time nights for the last 2 years and I plan to stay on nights for at least another few years. The shift differential is pretty great too!
  9. by   SquishyRN
    My workplace is generally very considerate of night shift. Whenever I've been called, it has always been at 4:30pm or after. I haven't been there too long, only since this past December, but I've NEVER had to go to a mandatory meeting during the day o_O Everything important is communicated through memos attached to our pay stubs that the night house supervisor distributes. If we have concerns, we discuss it with the night supervisor and she relays it to the bosses in the morning. If we need inservices, the nurse educator or nurse manager comes in early and gives them sometime between 6:30 and 7... Most of us are generally finished with morning meds and are just waiting for report.

    At other places I have worked, this had not been the case. Mandatory meetings were always scheduled at 2:30 to be convenient for 1st and 2nd shift, and we could only get our paychecks from HR, so this meant having to come in at some point on a M-F from 9-5, both of which aren't at all convenient for a 3rd shifter. However, this was never a problem for me personally because I always worked either 1st or 2nd shift at those places. I'm glad I am where I am now when I moved to nights.

    As other posters have said, I feel there is more camaraderie during night shift and less interruptions. The only thing I hate about night shift is that on my days off, I feel like I lose entire days to sleep and am completely unproductive on my first day off. If I have only a single day off between shifts, I sleep all day and am awake all night but I cant really do any errands, so I feel as though I just wasted that day. Which is why I prefer having my 3 workdays all back to back.

    To get adequate sleep, I keep my phone on silent and return calls only after I wake up. I don't have kids and only live with my boyfriend, so I don't have other interruptions. I've gotten accustomed to background noise such as lawn mowers, traffic and kids playing. It helps that I've always been a pretty heavy sleeper. I can sleep through earthquakes with no problem ;P
  10. by   Biffbradford
    Once upon a time, we did have a manager who understood the night shift and would come in around 0500-0600 to give us a quick, bullet point, staff meeting. This was a large, busy ICU so she would take us in small groups of 3 or 4 and go over everything in 10 minutes. By then, the next group could free themselves up for a quick 10 minute briefing. In addition, topics were written up in a 'read and sign' for those who didn't work that morning. On the other end of the spectrum was my last position where staff meetings were always at 1700. I refused to drive an hour to attend the 2 hour meeting (usually) followed by a 12 hour night shift and the hour drive back home home. Hence, in a year and a half I worked there, I only attended 2 meetings ... the very first, and one that was 'mandatory'". I never would have guessed that I could fall asleep at the wheel of my car with my eyes wide open, but I can.
  11. by   KelRN215
    I was a rotater for all my years of hospital nursing and here's what I think: Nights are far preferable to days. The only tolerable day shift is a weekend shift. No management, no (or very few) discharges, no (or very few) nursing students taking up all the computers. I agree team work is superior on the night shift and, when there's down time, you can vent away without worrying about big brother walking in. (Though at my former hospital we were always wary of spies or the idea that the room was bugged, haha.)

    I agree about the meetings and about the phone calls. My hospital started using this automated robot calling system shortly before I left where they would send out mass calls when they needed someone to work a shift. I remember this specifically because it made me very mad: I was working 7P-7A Wednesday and Thursday. We must have had a staff meeting or something at shift change on Thursday morning or I had an appointment because I remember that I got home late. I had just fallen asleep like an hour earlier when my phone rang at 12pm with a robot call saying "please call the charge nurse if you can work tonight." A) I'm already working tonight and B ) FOR REAL? Would it be acceptable to call the day shift at midnight? No, so why are you calling me at noon? One of my permanent night shift colleagues would always say how she wanted to call the day shift at 2am to see how they liked it...
  12. by   turnforthenurse
    I agree with the team work being superior on nights compared to days. I picked up a couple of dayshifts to help out one time and the dayshift people just do NOT help each other! It's ridiculous! We also have a nurse who has been in this profession for 20+ all of the places she has worked, she said the teamwork is always better on nights. I don't know what it is.

    The only thing I hate is when that management usually does not take into account your schedule if you work night shift. It's doable to work one day on, then off, then on, etc if you're working days but that isn't so feasible while working nights.

    And my phone is always put on silent while I'm sleeping but I hate it when work tries to call me in the middle of the day - or "night" for me. Your 1pm is my 1am, KWIM?
  13. by   amoLucia
    Previous poster Commuter's first paragraph is so true. Night shift staff USUALLY work the night shift by choice because of our own personal reasons. As a result, we do what we have to make our shift more agreeable and workable for ourselves. So yes, we do pull together to help one another more so than others do on the other shifts. (Of course, there are fewer of us, so that helps.)

    I do LTC and have done all shifts and in all various capacities as UM, SD, Inf Cont, supervisor, charge nurse and staff. But 11-7 is my forte. As I read your post, I identify 2 major areas as my vents with my ways of coping.

    Firstly, I find the lack of supplies (that SHOULD be in our unit's supply closet) extremely frustrating. I know that other staff MEANT TO
    reorder, but they got busy and .... But when I need something, I NEED IT!!! I don't have the luxury of not doing something because of NO EQUIP in the house. (Oh yeah, I can just see that disciplinary write-up!). I can't let a GT stoma close over or someone drown in wet lung secretions ...

    So my way of coping is to become the unofficial inventory/supply clerk for my unit. I voluntarily keep track of supplies for my unit and reorder as nec. I make sure I have replacements for just about everything I may need for whatever. It just makes my job easier!!! I have multiple-size GT flexiflo replacements. Straight cath & foley insertion trays with all the FC sizes in multiples are avail. My IV box and drug boxes are pharmacy-locked and at the ready. I have phlebotomy tubes and all the lab specimen equip needed. Spare batteries, check; suction/trach equip, absolutely check; ostomy supplies, check; glucometer equip, stock house meds & drsgs, check; my oxygen & crash cart are always at the ready, etc, etc, etc. I make sure my supply needs are requested and filled as I ordered. If you don't have something on your unit, come over to me - I've got it!!! I DO NOT want to be without as I need something!

    Secondly, why can't the kitchen get early morning special requests straight?!?!? They do come in early and request slips have been sent, so what's the problem? I have pts with early appts and esp, early dialysis pts. Again to cope, I provide a supply of some edibles so that these pts don't leave on empty stomachs. I keep a 'breakfast bin' for this reason.

    I do try to remedy these situations via appropriate channels, most usually with no effect. So I find my own ways to cope. Many may not agree with me as it is so sad that I have to resort to alternative methods.
  14. by   txnurse48
    I have been working nights since I graduated a couple of years ago. I love it! The pros: usually no management around, no meetings or few meetings, few family members or visitors (as they are often more demanding than the pts), more time to get the know the pts (especially those who are up at all hours of the night), reverse commuting, the helpfulness and friendliness of other night nurses.
    Cons: sleep deprivation when working back-to-back shifts (although I prefer those shifts), not knowing if I'm supposed to be eating breakfast or dinner, so I just eat what I want whenever I have time which may just be twice a day, not enough time to spend with family/friends, decreased motivation to get anything thing done after I wake up on my days off and then when I do wake up enough, all the businesses are closed, neighbors who do not understand that when they come over at 5 pm and I'm in my nightgown and scarfing down a salad that I really don't have time to visit even after they ask me if I'm working tonight, coming to work and seeing hours-old leftover food in the breakroom from admin to day shift and nothing fresh or nothing at all for the night shift, having to stock the supply room because central supply person is gone for the day, having to search multiple Pixis for meds because our unit is out of Protonix or Prilosec, Really?? and there is no pharmacist to stock at night, having a computer issue and having to wait for IT to respond (although this is getting better), having to plunge a toilet because housekeeping is gone for the day, having the kitchen call and ask for the diet of a pt who has been NPO for 2 weeks and then asking to have the diet order faxed right at med pass time, dr ordered snacks that are not stocked in the pt fridge and no one in the kitchen to deliver them, having people ask me, What do you do all night? The patients are sleeping. Really??? But, even with all this, nursing is the BOMB! I still love it!