Worst Night of My Entire Career


I had the worst night of my entire nursing career last night. I am just now able to think about it clearly. I have been a nurse almost a year now. I consider myself to be a fairly decent nurse, I try to pay attention to all my patients, tend to be fairly organized, and usually remember even the smallest of details. Last night, however, I just barely made it through. I don't know how...here's how it went:

1900-Arrive at shift to get report, don't get report finished till after 2000 because nurse who gave report was running back and forth doing various tasks throughout report.

2230-Finally get all meds passed, assessments completed. No charting. Have 7 patients, one empty room. One patient confused, several various lines, tubes. Yells into hallway continuously, keeping other patients awake. Call doc for order to give him something as nothing was ordered. Med given.

0000-Pt incontinent, smearing all over bedrails. Another pt anxious to go home, doesn't want to wait till morning. Repeatedly asking when she can leave. Other pts on call bell constantly, one tech for entire floor so I have to answer lights too. Trying to clean up confused pt., no mitts available so have to call for restraints as he's pulling at tubes. Still no charting done.

0200- Still no charting. Second pt mad, ready to go home. Refuses to wait till morning. Takes IV out, monitor off. Dressed to go. Family upset that she's leaving. I call doc, get order for AMA form. Other nurses not much help at this point, just carrying on while I am struggling with pt. Called house supervisor to come speak with pt.

0330-Pt. finally decides to leave. Still no charting done. Trying to make rounds to see other pts. and pass meds. Confused man still yelling, pooping but restrained. Trying to check restraints often enough. Pt leaves floor after signing AMA form. Confused man finally dozes off. Finally get some charting done.

0430-House sup calls back, pt. returning to unit after cops called to parking lot brawl with family. Confused man up again, pooping. Other pts. calling out, pain meds, coffee, various requests. Three different IV's beeping in three rooms, no tech. Received new admission at 0200, still haven't done paperwork on him. Quick assessment done earlier. No charting.

0500- Pt back to unit, refusing meds, telemetry, gown, assessment. Family in room. At this point just hoping to make it two more hours without quitting or falling over dead. Confused man continues to yell. Nothing more I can do for him. Try to get in to get admission paperwork finished. Small amount of charting done. Another nurse offers to do chart checks at this point.

Finally at 0700 I was verifying my MARS for dayshift, trying to pass early morning meds, chart, and get ready for report. I left exhausted, didn't really remember anything much from the night. It was terrible. Once I got home, had some sleep, and woke up at 4 pm, I realized I didn't do chart checks and note off orders on two of my patients. At this point I feel like the worst nurse ever. But when I left my shift, all my patients were breathing, without distress, and made it through the night as I did. I figure that's the best I could do. I am still a bit upset over the lack of help that I feel I received. A couple nurses in particular were very helpful and compassionate, but overall I was disappointed. At the time I felt as if I were drowning and all alone. Not to mention this was my fourth nightshift ever as I normally worked days but just switched to nights. I still can't believe that shift ever happened, it is like a bad dream....


38 Posts


I'm so sorry you had such an awful shift. Sometimes people forget that night shift can be just as awful as day shift in its own ways. Because my shifts (day or night) usually wound up like that, I gave up hospital nursing and have stuck mainly with office nursing and home health since then. Don't think I could work at the bedside again....

Hopefully your experience will be the exception rather than rule. :icon_hug:

Wishing you all the best,


UM Review RN, ASN, RN

7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.

:icon_hug: :icon_hug: :icon_hug: Awww, you need a hug for sure. I think you did great considering what you had to work with!

You just got a bad group. It'll get better. We all have shifts like that.

Specializes in CCU.

Where were the other nurses? Could they not do so med pass for you or clean up and try to appease the confused pt???? One could have taken your orders off or even pick up one of your patient! I am sure that they felt: "I am glad I did not get this assignment!" but really... where is the team work? :angryfire Shame on them for letting you down!

You remind me of myself when I started few years ago. Overwhelmed and facing the "culture shock", you know, the stuff they don't teach you in nursing school. pass the "honeymoon phase".

You may have other nights like this one, I regret to say. But you need to delegate to other, ask for help, even if you have to make them feel guilty by saying: "Hey guys, I'm drowning here!". There is nothing wrong to this. Express yourself, be assertive or the "wolves will eat you up".

Good luck! :nurse:{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{you}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}


90 Posts

Specializes in Med-surg, Critical Care.

I have had bad days at work before, but nothing like this. I can handle an occasional bad group, or bad patient, but not when everything goes to pot like this. I finally just had to leave work at the end of the shift and whatever wasn't done had to be passed on. I had done all I could do. I just hate feeling that way, like I left so much undone on my shift.


9 Posts

My friend is a nurse on the night shift in the ER. Try that one out for size. Not pretty EVER for her.........It will get better though. You will be able to tolerate more. Take care!


QUOTE=LOVERN]I have had bad days at work before, but nothing like this. I can handle an occasional bad group, or bad patient, but not when everything goes to pot like this. I finally just had to leave work at the end of the shift and whatever wasn't done had to be passed on. I had done all I could do. I just hate feeling that way, like I left so much undone on my shift.


81 Posts

I think we all agree that there are those days when the whole shift goes to hell and sitting under a desk, while sucking your thumb and rocking back and forth seems like a great idea :chuckle but you made it and you did a good job. I only hope after my orientation and a good year as a nurse, I can handle anything that comes my way, just like you did. We are all human and i am beginning to forgive myself and roll with the punches. Boy are ya'll right about nursing school, that Ivory Tower looks more like a painted rock to me. :rotfl: Anyways pat yourself on your back and don't look back, just move forward!! The people who couldn't lift a finger to help you, should be the ones who feel like crap, not you!!!!! God Bless AMARTIN1 :rolleyes:

Tweety, BSN, RN

32,973 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 31 years experience.

You did a good job.

I can't count how many nights I've had like that.

military spouse

577 Posts

Has 20 years experience.

That is such an awful feeling when you realize you've forgotten something! I think we all have done that! Hang in there!


38 Posts

We all have those awful days. Don't let it get to you. In fact, I had one of them days today. It was just terrible. I wanted to cry and go home.

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