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Question for Psych Nurses

sw0495 sw0495 (New) New

Hello! Freshly graduated nurse here seeking advice! I am a bit conflicted over how to proceed. A hospital position I recently interviewed for has 8 hour shifts. They told me I was probably not going to be able to get a 7-3 shift starting out which I was already aware of and OK with. I am having trouble choosing between 3-11 and 11-7. On one hand I was told the 3-11 shift would give me excellent experience and I really value being able to interact with my patients. On the other hand if I take a 3-11 shift it will mean I will hardly ever see my boyfriend, who works 7-4 and is in bed by 10. I figure if I take the 11-7 shift I will just sleep when I get back until he gets home, we will have some time to spend together and then I would head to work as he was going to bed. But I am worried I will not get as much patient interaction with the night shift.

 

Also I have never worked an overnight shift before and am a bit anxious as to how that will be. I am naturally a night owl and stay up many nights anyhow so I think it mesh well with me but I have no way of knowing and all the grim research published on the toll night shift has on physical health is scary to me. 

 

What do you think? Will I still get good experience and pt interaction doing 11-7? (It is a high acuity high patient population hospital so I can't imagine the nights are all perfectly quiet) What would you recommend as the best shift for a new nurse who wants to gain experience??

5 hours ago, sw0495 said:

Hello! Freshly graduated nurse here seeking advice! I am a bit conflicted over how to proceed. A hospital position I recently interviewed for has 8 hour shifts. They told me I was probably not going to be able to get a 7-3 shift starting out which I was already aware of and OK with. I am having trouble choosing between 3-11 and 11-7. On one hand I was told the 3-11 shift would give me excellent experience and I really value being able to interact with my patients. On the other hand if I take a 3-11 shift it will mean I will hardly ever see my boyfriend, who works 7-4 and is in bed by 10. I figure if I take the 11-7 shift I will just sleep when I get back until he gets home, we will have some time to spend together and then I would head to work as he was going to bed. But I am worried I will not get as much patient interaction with the night shift.

 

Also I have never worked an overnight shift before and am a bit anxious as to how that will be. I am naturally a night owl and stay up many nights anyhow so I think it mesh well with me but I have no way of knowing and all the grim research published on the toll night shift has on physical health is scary to me. 

 

What do you think? Will I still get good experience and pt interaction doing 11-7? (It is a high acuity high patient population hospital so I can't imagine the nights are all perfectly quiet) What would you recommend as the best shift for a new nurse who wants to gain experience??

A shift isn’t yours forever - nights can be good for a new nurse because the med pass isn’t usually as overwhelming- on nights you’ll usually have less meds, and probably at least a little more time to research each one as you give it.  The fact that there may be less patient interaction is a benefit, not a bug - you can probably spend a little more time getting the documentation (and follow up) right on the meds you do pass, plus - get comfortable with the computer systems, gadgets and gizmos that your specialty uses.  
 

nights often is where the chart audits happen - and when you’re filing and checking other nurse’s work, you’ll learn how not to make the same mistakes yourself.  Plus, you might actually have a chance to look at the history and physicals & start making the jump from the classroom to connecting the dots in the real world.  
 

I wouldn’t assume that nights means no patient interaction either - people don’t tend to sleep very well in hospitals..  

BSNbeDONE, ASN, BSN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health.

I’m a nightshift nurse who’s just transition to a banker’s hours position, after being on nights since 2002. Getting up in the morning is killing me, but that’s a whole other story. I’m older (50+) and am in perfect health (no meds). How night shift affects a person’s physical and mental health is an individual thing.

If you have an opportunity to work a shift that suits your personal life, take it. As a newcomer with potential downtime on nights, you have an opportunity to learn the policies of the facility. Trust and believe that you will hear/learn what another shift was supposed to be responsible for; so you can take notes on that as well. Take the shift that best works for your personal life while you can because you’ll find out soon enough that facilities could care less about what works best for the employees. 

Beside, you can always pick up an occasional shift on a tour that’s not your own. Doing this, you’ll learn the expectations of those shifts, as well as showing that you’re a team player.

JabuJabule, LPN

Specializes in LTC.

I used to be my LTCs night nurse, and let me tell you that I partially regret not taking the 7-3/3-11 shift. I LOVE the overnight, and still plan on doing it, but there are so many things I don't know how to do as a "regular" nurse, and I've been an LPN since October. 

If I were you, I'd do half and half if possible! Night shift is so relaxing and such an easy med pass at 5/6 am. But lately I've been loving the 7-3 and 3-11 shifts. I've learned so much in a matter of days to weeks!

Good luck! 🙂 

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

Take the shift that works best for your personal life and make it work for your professional life.  Previous posters have already given you excellent advice.

You will get a chance to hone your nursing and interpersonal skills but on nights you will usually have the luxury of addressing one person's needs at a time.  Evenings on psych is often the all-hell-breaking-loose shift.  

A lot of people gravitate to nights on psych because it is less "tasky".  Try to avoid letting it become a shift of mostly downtime.  There are things to do:  review orders, update care plans, etc.  The "busy work" that the other shifts don't have time to do but benefit immensely if someone is keeping up with it.

I say go for it.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

No shift is going to be completely quiet in inpatient psych so you will definitely get patient interaction. I enjoy swing, but do not recommend it if your partner is on an early morning shift - as you noted it can be hard to find time together and when my husband was on an early morning shift (coffee shop) and I was working swing we both hated it - constantly interrupting the other's sleep but never really seeing eachother. If you are naturally a night owl, nocs could be a good fit for you - It's a different pace/vibe at night, but can be a good time to learn and have time to look up stuff - the downside is that it can be harder to get a hold of management and/or providers, but so long as you have some good support on the shift and/or during crossover it can be a really good place to learn.

17 hours ago, sw0495 said:

Hello! Freshly graduated nurse here seeking advice! I am a bit conflicted over how to proceed. A hospital position I recently interviewed for has 8 hour shifts. They told me I was probably not going to be able to get a 7-3 shift starting out which I was already aware of and OK with. I am having trouble choosing between 3-11 and 11-7. On one hand I was told the 3-11 shift would give me excellent experience and I really value being able to interact with my patients. On the other hand if I take a 3-11 shift it will mean I will hardly ever see my boyfriend, who works 7-4 and is in bed by 10. I figure if I take the 11-7 shift I will just sleep when I get back until he gets home, we will have some time to spend together and then I would head to work as he was going to bed. But I am worried I will not get as much patient interaction with the night shift.

 

Also I have never worked an overnight shift before and am a bit anxious as to how that will be. I am naturally a night owl and stay up many nights anyhow so I think it mesh well with me but I have no way of knowing and all the grim research published on the toll night shift has on physical health is scary to me. 

 

What do you think? Will I still get good experience and pt interaction doing 11-7? (It is a high acuity high patient population hospital so I can't imagine the nights are all perfectly quiet) What would you recommend as the best shift for a new nurse who wants to gain experience??

Part of our behavioral health program, and maybe other programs, involves getting enough sleep. After 10PM, the lights are off and the common areas are closed. We do have admissions and occasional disruptive patients, but it's pretty quiet. People start waking up at 5AM and the common areas open at 6AM.

3-11 is action intensive, from what I've seen.

I agree with the others who've suggested that you pick the best shift for your lifestyle. You're going to see something no matter when you work, and you can always see more or different things later.

CONGRATS on your new job.

 

The0Walrus, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych.

I've been doing psych nursing for 11 months. 9 of those months have been in the 7a-7p shift. For the past 2 months I've been 7p-7a. This is my experience.

During the day I really learned psych nursing. I had to check care plans, de-escalate patients' anxieties or if they were agitated. We were normally running more "crisis" calls throughout the hospital (when a patient became agitated in another unit we were called to de-escalate or administer medications). Speak to the families about their family members' meds, care plan, medicate patients, speak to doctors. During the day there's more going on normally. Everyone is awake including patients.

During the overnight shift most of the patients are asleep. There are no doctors so if we need to call for medications we call the crisis unit in the emergency room. Some patients will pace throughout the night or sit and speak to themselves in the patient area. We will still get those crisis calls but they won't be as frequent. Furthermore, we don't need to speak to families, and we don't run community meetings. There's much more down time during this time.

If you want to learn more I'd go with the 3-11 shift. If you want more personal time go with the 11-7 shift. You're still going to gain experience during the 11-7 shift it just won't be as much. If I were you I'd go with 11-7 in my opinion because you'll still gain experience it will just be at a slower pace which is fine. It gives you time to ask more questions since the other nurses aren't really running around normally. Good luck!

Thank you everyone! Based on your comments I have made my decision to go with the 11-7 shift. I don't really like the idea of having to go who knows how long without being able to spend any time with my boyfriend until I can get switched shifts and you have made me feel better that I will still get good experience doing the night shift. I would prefer to have more time to one on one with my patients, as some of you pointed out I would have then as well.  

Thank you! 

LBC_RN, BSN

Specializes in Mental Health.

I starting out working days as a new grad on an acute forensic unit at the state hospital. It was really overwhelming & unfortunately most of the nurses were not very helpful. I asked to switch to a later shift. I worked 7 years inpatient psych & worked either 3-11p, 7p-7a or 11p-7a. Honestly, you will still learn a lot on the later shifts! 3pm shift, I still got to lead groups. At one hospital, we had admissions 24/7 so sometimes I’d have up to 3 a night. And pts on a psych unit are usually up at all hours, so anything can happen at any time! Your nights will not be boring 🙂 

Edited by LBC_RN
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