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Scared of Night Shift d/t Mental Health Dx


I'm graduating with a BSN in about eight months. For the past two years I've worked as a clinic assistant, and depending on the week, working back-to-back ten to twelve hour daytime shifts. That is to say, it's not out of laziness that I am terrified of working a night shift. I have heard that it is every new nurse's dues to work at least six months to a year on the night shift on the Med/Surg unit. I am committed to nursing, and I'm not trying to get out of paying those dues. However, I have severe anxiety and a history of depression. Staying up late exacerbates my symptoms--my ability to cope quickly deteriorates the later it gets. I know the night shift is difficult for anyone, but I seriously question my ability to safely care for patients, make rational decisions, and stay sane if I alter my sleep schedule. Please, any advice is appreciated--do all new nurses start out on the night shift? Is the any way to communicate my fears to my advisor without sounding like a slacker? I am good at my current job, and I don't doubt my ability as a nurse, but I'm really worried about this.

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

I've worked for 18 years, never once on a night shift. However, times were very different when I graduated and took my first floor position. My best advice is to try not to panic. It may well be possible that you can find a day shift right off the bat. But no one has a crystal ball, so it will just be up in the air until you start putting out resumes.

Try not to divulge more private information than absolutely necessary on interviews, particularly medical information. You can express a strong preference for day shift positions without being required to say exactly why.

Not all nurses start on night shift or on med-surg for that matter! I did nights for less than 6 months and couldn't handle it. I talked with my supervisor and got a day shift position pretty soon after telling her I was really struggling with it. Just let them know, like the above poster mentioned, that you have a strong preference for days. Also, you may consider doing nights for a little while just to get a foot in the door somewhere that you'd like to work. I took a night shift position in my current job but was on days before the end of orientation!