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Think I'll love third shift (you might, too)

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care.

I recently started a med-surg position with a few weeks orientation on days before starting my contracted nights position. I got up to a full six patient assignment on days and felt like all I could do was keep my head above water and address the immediate needs as they came up. Barely had a chance to look at H&P, reports, labs, tests, etc. and when it came time for shift report I really didn't feel like I knew them all that well. Switching to nights I feel like I might be able to be the nurse that I want to be. We've got six-seven patients on nights and so far I've averaged two that really sleep all night, and the rest have had something I need to address. I haven't quite learned how to manage my sleep, but as far as the job portion, it's great. I can't sit down or I'll fall asleep, so I station myself somewhere near my block of rooms and I can spend my time learning. I have time to read through most of the surgeries, tests and labs that were done. I look through all the med lists and learn the ones that are new for me. And most importantly to me, I've had uninterrupted time when a patient needed me to be there. I held the hand of my 80+ year old dementia patient who kept trying to climb out of bed. She settled down and talked, animated and nonsensical until she finally fell into a more restful sleep. My 40ish alcoholic patient that just needed someone to listen as he talked about what drinking had done to him and his family and how he really hoped that this time he would be able to stop, knowing how close he had come to death. The older gentleman with concerns about not only his health, but how his wife's health seemed to be failing a bit, but she refused to admit it and he wasn't sure how to best help. Having a chance to make that connection with people is what I wanted out of nursing. Sure, I'm sure I'll have some boring nights, but fortunately I enjoy cleaning cabinets and studying, so I can easily keep productive. I know most other shifts think we don't do anything, and I'm okay with that, as long as I know when I go home, I've done my best for my patients. So, if you're considering night shift and don't know if it's for you, maybe my experience will help!

How long have you been working there (at night)? ...sounds more like a "kumbaya" type camping trip than a night nursing shift.

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care.

Oh right, what I was I thinking trying to post something positive about my experience? I've seen many posts where people ask about whether nights would be good for them, so I thought pointing out some benefits might be good. Yes, where I work it's all rainbows and happiness all the time. No, I've never had a night with six needy patients, one right from the unit and a new admission. I've never had the patients setting their watch for their Q2 dilaudid so they wake from a dead sleep, but far too nauseated for the PO medication first. I've never had to run around for all eight hours without a break to pee. Thanks for the reminder, and I'll be sure to focus on that in the future. For now, few positive experiences I described make the other nights worthwhile.

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