Nurse Student needs advice: Is working late nights wise for new grad?

  1. HI! My name is Mia and I am trying to ellicit the adive and expertise of all experienced RN's from all speacialties.

    I will be graduating from a BSN nursing program in December. I was recently offered a position on a unit that I really want to work on. The only draw back is that its a 7P-7A shift. Personally, I don't mind this at all. However, I am afraid of being really tired during shifts. I have worked late nights before but not in a field where it was so imperative to have clarity of thought ( a good nights sleep!). From my previous late night experince I know that usually I can sleep through the day but sometimes its just not happening. I am especially concerned because I am a new grad and my skills still need to be developed. I will get 6 weeks with a preceptor and then I am off to the late nights with lots of insulin drips. What do you all think? Is this doable? Any suggestions from late nighters on how to ensure sleep during the day.? Any advice will be thoughtfully considered but please respond soon. I need to either accept or reject the offer in about a week. I reallly, really want it but Im not sure if it is wise.
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    About mia

    Joined: Apr '01; Posts: 18


  3. by   frustratedRN
    nights are probably better for you just coming off orientation.
    i wouldnt worry about the sleep part because you will fit that in. of course you will probably feel like crap for a while but you will get in a groove.
    the night shift gives you more freedom to focus on what you have to do as far as patient care and hospital policies. you dont have to deal with the docs coming and writing orders, your patients arent going to tests and surgery, and you dont have to deal with visitors. its a more laid back atmosphere condusive to learning.
    i prefer the night shift to daylight any day.
  4. by   WriteStuff

    Hi Mia,
    Congratulations - in advance - for your up and coming graduation in December.
    It goes without saying that no one can make this decision for you, but maybe we can shed some light on important things to consider based on our own experiences. And you are being wise in asking.

    Probably the most crucial time period for any new grad is that first year of practice. You come out of school with a heavy theoretical foundation, from which you are going to build on from now on. You're going to take all that theory, and see how it applies in the real world of your work environment.

    The first year out of the gate is a major adustment period on all fronts: honing clinical skills, absorbing an unending volume of new information which is in constant flux, adapting to the pace of your setting, forging alliances with new peers and colleagues, defining your best resources, claifying your strengths and identifying areas you need to work on, learning to prioritize, building self-confidence, sharpening critical thinking skills, making judgment calls, - just for starters.

    A six week preceptorship, in my mind, is definitely not adequate time for a new grad to be expected to function comfortably in the more isolated setting of a night shift.

    You would be doing yourself a huge favor to spend a minimum of a year concentrating on all of the above mentioned in a more supported environment.

    Of course I don't know you personally, and you may be the exceptional person who can jump right in and get a handle on the "war zone" right away. If so - terrific!

    Hospitals are under enormous pressue to fill the difficult "holes" in their staffing - which is the night shift - and they will tell you just about anything to get you to consent. That's just the stark truth. No matter how attractive they make it seem, your priority right now is your own need to adjust to this real world of Nursing. Can you do that in six weeks?

    Ask yourself these questions:

    1. Can I make the bio-rhythm adustment?
    2. How many other Licensed Staff will there be?
    3. Who, and/or what will be my primary resource for seeking information, and answering my questions?
    4. Will I be in Charge if we are short-staffed?
    5. What will my patient load be?
    6. Is there a Unit Secretary on duty those hours?
    7. Is night shift the shift I want?
    8. Will my peers on that shift be supportive of me as a new grad?
    9. Will they have, or even take, the time to teach me?

    The risk is that you won't know the answers to many of these questions until you actually get there, if you do.

    You don't mention any other options that might have been presented to you by your prospective employer, or whether the area in which you live has a variety of choices where you might work, but just be careful to not "jump" at the first thing that comes along on the basis that "it's what I'm most interested in."
    It's what you "want", but maybe not what you "need" so immediately.

    Just my thoughts Mia.......I'm certainly not telling you what you should do.

    A very wise person once said: "To thine own self be true."
    It applies to the choices we make for ourselves in our professional growth as well.

    Good luck, welcome aboard, and keep us posted!

    Bonnie Creighton, RN
  5. by   KRVRN
    I started on the 7P-7A shift as a new grad over a year ago. I still work this shift and I don't know if I would even WANT to go to days. It's true-- night shifts tend to be slower, with fewer new orders to initiate. You can focus on what you already have going on. I have heard, however, that some units get most of their admits in the evenings, so that would mean new orders to carry out. It all depends what kind of unit it is.

    I was skeptical about working nights. But I had to do it to get my dream job. I've always been a night person, so it wasn't too bad, but it was a little weird staying up until 8 or 9AM. I think the only time your mind gets really fuzzy is when you are bit slow. When you are busy you don't have too much of a problem staying awake and alert.

    As far as sleeping during the day... You do get used to it. I had trouble at first, too. While you're getting used to it you might try benadryl or tylenol PM (heard that one from coworkers--I think it might even have benadryl in it). It's easier sleeping with the windows closed because there's always noise going on outside (weed wackers are the absolute worst, BTW). Then again, it's hard sleeping if it's hot, so maybe the window should be open... Also try playing white noise, like rain or ocean sounds.

    I'm almost certain you WILL have trouble if you're not a coffee drinker. And you should really be more afraid of DRIVING HOME than not being alert while caring for pts. It's way easy to veg out driving home. Beware.

    I think you should try nights if it's a job you really like. You do get used to it.
  6. by   mustangsheba
    Mia: When I first started nursing - a little less than 100 years ago - I had to start on nights to get the job I wanted. It was hard for me because I can't sleep during the day. I told them up front that I wanted to go to days ASAP, and was able to do so in about three months. During that time, I had no other life, but it was worth it. I don't recall feeling tired at work as long as I was busy. Six weeks with a preceptor sounds pretty good to me as I've never had more than three; that doesn't mean it's a good thing. At any time, when and if you feel overwhelmed, you can call your supervisor. You're not expected to know everything when you're through with orientation - or ever for that matter. Go for it if you are pretty confident that the people with whom you will be working are supportive. And always remember it's not a lifetime commitment. Good luck!
  7. by   LauraRN0501
    Hi Mia,

    I am a new grad and I have been going back and forth between days and nights (I DO NOT recommend that!). Anyway, I have to say that on nights I really don't have any problem staying awake, even if I haven't slept all day. I am so new, and there is so much to think about and SO much to do that I don't have time to think about being tired. As I am new, I am pretty slow still, so that takes up a lot of time too!

    Good luck!