There's A Bright Side To Night Shift

Nurses General Nursing

Updated:   Published

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC.

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With the end of another school year coming up the new grads will be looking for jobs. There are many threads about the down sides of night shift, so I think it might help people to hear any positive aspects to the job. If you have some to share, please do! Here's my start to the list:

- There's a closer sense of team work in many environments. With less overall staff available, I've always found units where people really pitch in an help one another.

- Since there's a chance that at least some of the patients are sleeping at least part of the night, there's often time to do some learning. In my first few months on night shifts I read all the test result reports, imaging reports, and plan of care notes that I could. This gave me a better feel for the course of care in the hospital for patients.

- More autonomy. This is potentially more applicable to my unit working in ICU, but because we don't have a provider on the unit at all times, there are times where we have to make important decisions and changes in care while someone is reaching out to the providers. We're careful NOT to act beyond our scope, but sometimes patient safety requires quick responses. You get the opportunity to really expand your knowledge and apply in real time. 

- Potentially better family time opportunities. I was able to attend some school field trips and I am available to pick my kids up or drive them to activities during the day. I admit sometimes I'm sleeping in the car, but it's worked for me.

- Commute is easier and parking is better. At least at my hospital, day staff have to park off site and shuttle in. At night we can park on campus.

- Shift differential. Pretty self explanatory, it adds up.

- Less interruptions with family and off unit tests. In most cases family aren't around and unless a test is emergent you're unlikely to have to travel off unit with the patient. 

I think the biggest advice I would give new night shifters is don't sabotage yourself before you even start. Hearing new coworkers talk about how much they'll hate nights, when they've never even done it- gets old. And, telling your coworkers you're basically leaving at the first opportunity, isn't get best way to build relationships. Get some blackout curtains, a sound machine, even a sleep mask. You can do it, and it's worth it!

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

I loved nights, until they stopped loving me at around age 40. There were no suits around, few tests, and though we didn’t have a lot of staff, we banded together and helped one another when things went sideways. We had a different sort of relationship with doctors, RTs and other providers, and it worked for the most part.

As for sleeping during the day, I had blackout curtains, a fan, and a sleep mask. I’d also lounge in my bathtub before sleep and put my blanket in the dryer for a few minutes to warm it up. Turned my phone off too. I also put a sign on the front door that warned people not to knock because I was a day sleeper. It didn’t always work, but at least my kids knew not to disturb me unless the house was on fire or bones were sticking out. I usually slept like the dead until my husband got home after work and woke me up. 

Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health.

Nights for 13 years now and not going to change until I retire. Agree with all that's been said above. On my small oncology clinical trials unit we're just two nurses at night so the mutual help and camaraderie is something really special whereas the day team seem to be split into clans. We work hard but we laugh a lot. We open the doors with the chemo unit next door and there's mutual  help if an emergency bell goes or if we're sitting down while they're still running around and vice versa. The day guys have the doors closed and don't even mix.

I think you get a greater intimacy with patients at night. The families are all gone, patients are alone and sometimes at their most scared. It's often at night when they'll open up to you. 

The autonomy, yes, I really value that.

Most of all, when I see my day colleagues trooping in for 6:45 a.m. I just know I could never ever do that again.

Specializes in Home Health,Peds.

I just love seeing the morning sunshine,which is why I chose nights.  I cannot stand the thought of working while the sun is outside and shining. The other pro is I do not have to travel during peak times,which means fewer traffic jams and reduced tolls. 

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

I did 13 years of night shift and liked it for all those reasons plus shift differential.  

What did me in was when we were mandated 12 hour shifts (which I like) and my days off were spent in a series of naps and I was tired all the time.  Also I was with someone at the time and when I worked 11-7 we'd have dinner and spend time together before I went into work this became a issue with me going in earlier and being so tired all the time and often falling asleep right after dinner so I went to day shift and never looked back.

I sometimes do miss night shift.  I'm glad there are "night shift or die people". I used to be one and you are my people.  LOL

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

MIDNIGHT PSYCH NURSE
(Loosely to the tune of "Return to Sender")

I work the midnight shift
On a psych unit
In a hospital that admits
If there's a profit in it
And nursing is my bit.

Refrain: Midnight psych nurse!
 Say the shift's the worst!
But I make more pay,
And get to sleep in the day!
I avoid the boss-
A stone growing moss,
With a sleep-deprived stare
At the paperwork everywhere.

When I lost my last job,
I said, "This is it!"
But a filled application got me
A certificate
And a position with it!

(Refrain)

But now I am burned out
And no longer fit.
An ember in ashes,
Till the end of my shift.
Then all I do is "git"!

(Refrain)

 

Specializes in CMSRN, hospice.

As someone who lives to sleep in (not just love it but actually live for it!), I assert that night shift is a perfect situation. More money, less busy work (not that we're not busy, but when we are it's typically more meaningful and directly connected to something the patients truly need), and night shifters are fabulous company! (Day shifters are too, but I never got to know any of them when I worked days because everyone was drowning in their own assignment and not tryna go out after work.)

I also am growing to appreciate holidays as a night shifter. It sucks no matter what if you have to travel to see loved ones, but I like that I can either work the night before or the night of and still participate a little bit, at least. Or in my case, I'll work either all of Christmas or all of New Years and get a stretch to really make the most of one or the other.

I totally get that sometimes you physically just can't do nights, but it's a bummer when people get such a negative introduction to it and don't get to hear any of the good stuff.

Specializes in Pediatric Home Health.

I used to hate nights, but I have young children, and it allows me to stagger shifts with my husband and spend more time with them. I hate to be away at all, but they miss me less at night. 

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC.
On 5/15/2022 at 4:11 AM, josie9toes said:

but they miss me less at night. 

Good point. I'm finding the benefits keep going, my oldest just got home from college and we got to have a nice day and lunch together today! My kids often have plans with friends now in the afternoons and evenings- when I would be home if I were on day shift- but being home during the day got me some quality time today. ? 

I've got a limited number of years with them living at home still, trying to make the most of it!

Glad that others were able to share their night shift benefits, it's really not a bad option. 

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