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Night nurse rant!

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There has been a constant source of frustration that has followed me since I have finished orientation and become a NOC nurse: the lack of flexibility and accommodation hospitals make for those of us who work all night.

Case in point: today I had to take a day during the business week to go into the hospital to fulfill yet another requirement. I understand the requirement, but the hospital didn’t even try to accommodate nurses like myself who work nights and weekends. And they very well could have—I’m not being unreasonable. This was something that could easily have been done at night.

While I was at the hospital today for 4 hours (after driving 30 mins both ways) I had another educator leave me a note stating I needed to come in during yet another weekday at 11AM to take a 20 question test “that shouldn’t take up too much of your time.”

“Ok,” I wanted to write back, “so why can’t you leave the test w/ the charge nurse on nights for me to take? Do you realize that by me coming in at 11AM to accommodate you I am in fact coming in during the middle of “my” night? 11AM to you is 11PM to me.”

I’ve made this argument before—to no avail. Day people just don’t get what it’s like to work nights. They call me at 2PM (my 2AM) to ask scheduling questions. Or the really annoying phone call at 5PM on my day off asking if I can come in for that evenings shift after I “take a little nap.” How safe is it to work 13 hours on a one-hour nap? Nope, they don’t get it.

This comes with the territory, I am told. So not only do we work with less staffing even with the same patient load, we miss out on all the daytime events that are perks of the job, we also are never accommodated because days just don’t understand. But hey, that 2-buck-an-hour night differential should make it all better! Right?

Next up—the things I love about working nights!

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Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.
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27 Responses to Night nurse rant!

  1. Johnna

    Preach it sister! Let us not forget Nurse’s Week Activities…. Ice Cream Social with make your own Sundae’s from 14:30 – 16:30 greeted by Administration…. oh and night shift, we will have the supervisor bring you a popsicle~ Oh, and the dreaded staff meetings…. 0700 – 1000 after working all night and, oh yeah, make sure you’re not late for work tonight at 1900!

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    I empathize with your ‘rant’. I remember how difficult that was and how annoying it became. I could never continue the night shift – my hats off to you.

  3. Cathy Smith

    I understand your feelings completely. I’ve worked nights for 28 years and have never gotten any consideration. And don’t get me started with the work one, off one, work one, off one schedule. Day shift has no clue.
    But I did get my manager one time. She had called me one too many times during the day, when I had worked the night before and had tom work that night. So I called her at 0200 with a question. Her first response was….It’s the middle of the night. My reply….Oh, weren’t you awake? I’m sorry…..and I proceeded on with my conversation. She never called me during the day again.

    • tapies2324 CNA

      good for you. my ex never understood why calling at noon was bothersome,or why I wasnt bright eyed after my two double shifts… I should have called at 2am just to let him know…and came home at 3am for a nooner.

  4. Yes, I agree. Some things would be better if people would just think of others. Though I have had some jobs who think of nights when doing inservices, etc. But for the mandatory stuff they have little to offer night shift.
    Or the things that hospitals give people for Nurse’s Week, etc and nights get the nasty leftovers if any!

  5. Patricia

    Most of my 34 years in nursing have been spent on the night shift so I know where you’re coming from. Unfortunately, all of your arguments will most likely fall on deaf ears. I’ve worked at 2 hospitals in my career that had in-services for the night shift and they were mega-medical centers that probably wouldn’t reach their nurses any other way. My advice–either don’t let it bother you or transfer to day shift if you can afford to lose the differential. They get all the perks anyway!

  6. Jade

    Oh!!!! I’ve only been on nights a year, but so close to home!!! Somehow I’ve been put on committees that I didn’t ask to be put on that involve 2+ hr meetings constantly… and they ask “is everything ok? You look tired.” You’re really going to ask me that after 3 nights in a row and then showing up to a 2+ hour meeting?!!!!

  7. Jennifer

    And what about food? They don’t think we need a 3 am snack. The cafeteria only has the very minimum basics and closes at midnight.

  8. Jennifer

    I started off on night at a HUGE Cleveland hospital. I never understood with all of us that worked nights they still couldn’t accomadate us and have meetings during our time. I mean really? There were like 1000 of us at least on the night shift each night.

  9. Nico

    Let’s not forget about the “leftover’s” the day shift so kindly picked over and then left in the lunch room expecting us to clean it up AND be grateful. Plus, do we get the cookies, boxes of candy, etc the day shift nurses do? No, just the complaints from the Pt..”She’s always waking me up..” (This is not a hotel!!)

  10. Pat Parker

    I am with you 500% on this one . . . you have stressed the same exact points I always try to make. In addition to day shift “not getting it” I have a problem with those nurses who say, “I understand, I used to work night shift” — yeah, 30 years ago for 1 week!!!
    There are ways in which to accommodate the night shift, yet administrators do not recognize that their “24/7” operation actually means 24-hrs, 7-days a week!
    I work every weekend night shift (7p-7a, Fri-Sat-Sun), so I have the double whammy — no one knows that there are two days in between Fri and Mon and certainly no one knows that there are hours between midnight and 6 am!
    And my biggest pet peeve has always been a more personal one — I might have a really great rapport with a patient, yet family members don’t see me or know me and therefore do not recognize the fact that someone is taking care of their loved one during the night — while they’re sleeping restfully.
    Like yourself, I could go on and on (already have, haven’t I? LOL!), but I do love working night shift with the crew that I work with — it makes up for it in some ways.

  11. txnurse2go

    I love the leftovers comment! Nothing like those nasty pieces of pizza from dayshifts “appreciation”events. Haven’t done nights in 4 years but its all came back to me after reading these. All so true!!

  12. SO true. I’m a “night owl” and one of the reasons I work healthcare is admittedly because of night shifts. I love working nights.

    That said, virtually all of the negatives for me are caused by *day shift staff*. And so many of them really just don’t get it. Not only about our sleep schedule (though that is absolutely true), but our work load too. So often we hear “nights have it so easy. Nights just sleep all of their shift”. Or the best, “nights are lazy (which really means “why didn’t they do some of our work for us?”). There are two staff to 40 residents on the LTC unit on which I work at night. There are 12 staff on days. And we’re lazy?

    Even better is when staff meetings are scheduled at 1300-when no night staff is going to be there because they’re sleeping-and they just decide that night shift should have this or that added to their duties to make it easier for days-or worse “people keep forgetting to do x…so let’s just make nights do it”.

    Pheh.

    Man. Talk about a can of worms.

  13. Jessica

    Im not a nurse. Im a respiratory therapist and ive worked nightshift for about 3 years. I completely 100% agree with everything all of u are saying lol sooooo true. How about “lets flex off to help census” And dayshift ends up with 12 people but we expected to do the same workload with 4 people. We cover the whole hospital so my assignment usually consists of 3 or 4 different floors and anywhere from 15 to 25 patients but u give dayshift an assignment like that?…and what do they do…they take a picture of it on their phone and txt it to the boss stating this is way too much to handle! I wanna give an imaginary hi-five to all us nightshift people. We r awesome for what we put up with!! Lol

  14. Sharon Holmes, L.P.N.

    Until the these morning larks become night owls by working the night shift, they will never understand what we night folk have to deal with!

  15. It’s all soooooooo true! I work the night shift because I love it! But when I go in at 7pm and don’t get to sit down (for any reason!) until 2 or 3 am (most nights)–I’m a little punchy! —That’s almost 8 hours of running—and the night shifters know that literally means running! I have to shake my head at the day shift when I’m running late in the morning and the nurses that have only just come in at 7am HAVE to go down for morning coffee break by 9am! Are they for real???? I’m lucky if I get to even open my lunch bag some nights. Some days I’m eating my ‘lunch’ on the way home at 7:30am!
    Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t change shifts for all the tea in China. There are only two of us on the nights where I work and we work well together! But dang, there needs to be a little better thought about things–like the meetings. This morning I was 30 min over finishing my charting (8am) from a 12 hr shift—and there was a ‘mandatory’ meeting at 7:30! Hello!? Now because I missed half of it I have to go in tomorrow on my day off. None of these meetings give me a minute to even pee after my shift ends before they expect you to be present and perky!
    And don’t even get me going about the ‘recognition’ stuff! This same morning of the mandatory meeting was also the night shifts ‘meet and greet and free breakfast’ —at 7:30am!!!! –So I missed BOTH of them!
    I truly love my job and I work in a great little hospital but it doesn’t matter—the night shift rant is everywhere. Best of luck to all night shifters! The best I can offer is to have your OWN night shift recognition ON the night shift! ………I think I will make something nice to bring in this Friday for us. Peace

  16. Iisha Rosario

    I am also a night shift Nurse and wouldn’t change it either. I worked day shift for a year and half and i hated 17mos of it. The first month was cool, because it was different, then reality set in. Everyone is in your business and MD all around barking out orders at a 200 words/min. LOL. I did not find it harder to work days just less peaceful. Night shift allows me to really get to know my patience and there families, i work High-Risk APU, so family member are usually present most, if not all, of the shift. The day shift always have CCP(Nurses aids) and nights does not, because we just don’t do anything at night, the pts are sleeping, right? Day shifter never seem to finish their work, they were just so busy, even with all the extra help. Nights somehow always seem to manage their duties well, without the help, hummmm..:) Night Nurses are truly AWESOME!!!

  17. Agreed that this can be a real problem. Great job to all the night nurses. Thought you’d like this article about scheduling: http://bit.ly/q6rF8G

  18. Kim

    I agree 100% with everything being said here! Day/Evening shifters do not understand the we work more with less and are still able to get the job done! That’s how they conclude we need more duties, because there must not be enough for us! What the heck? For 13yrs, there has never been an inservice/meeting scheduled and ran to taken into consideration that some us of have to come in now 3Xs in one day, (punch out, come to meeting, punch back in for your shift, lol)but I wouldn’t trade my shift for anything because truth is you really can give quality patient care without admin, docs, family, breathing down your neck all vying for your attention. Hey, the snacks suck, nothing worth eating is open, but nothing beats the perks of being first in line for errands, a clear route home (I drive in opposite of traffic and leave the opposite of traffic, yay!), and a couple of hours of semi-quiet (unfortunately, the world revolves on day hours) when you get home!

    • offroadnurse RN

      Let me begin with saying I have worked nights, on and off for 18 yrs and once for a 3 yr stretch. I totally agree with the rant that nights get the nasty left overs from days, the meetings are never convenient and no one in management can get it through their heads that you are sleeping when they call for idiotic reasons. Because any reason to wake you up at “2am” is idiotic, really. I like the comment about calling the manager at 0200 for a question. That is funny.
      But…….it takes all of us to take care of our patients. I can’t stand the old war between days and nights. It’s beneath us. The fact is, patients don’t become less sick or needy after 1900 and after 0700, the war really begins, more meals, more meds, more complaints, more management and more doctors. It’s different, days or nights, it doesn’t matter, someone has to do the work. I am glad for night shift. I don’t want to do it ever again.

  19. alehall

    This is so true. I especially like how all shifts change at 0700 yet none of the business associated offices with hospitals open until 0800 or later. So, I have to wait an hour or more to complete work required “paperwork” or see payroll, etc. but when I show up right at 8 they act like I am being such an inconvenience because I showed up first thing at the start of their workday.

  20. jdsnoozer

    Night nurses are an awesome group of dwdicated people. They live in a day world and work at night, truly out of sync with almost everyone else!! Keep mandatory meetings to a minimum, so they don’t get up in the middle of their sleep. Take the meetings to them out of respect!!

  21. Ron

    People that work days have NO idea what it’s like to work nights. I’ve been a nurse for 25 years and now work as a travel nurse. ALL education, meetings, cafeteria hours and just about anything is g.eared toward day shift workers.
    If I call you at 1am it’s the same as you calling me at 1pm.
    If you schedule me one day off it is on the day that i get home at 7am that is my day off. Day shift a single day off is no different for you, yet get home, go to bed, get up in the morning and do your normal routine. When I get home after working 12 hours, I can go to bed, but then the stores are not open at night. So I have to change my whole life style on my days off because it’s a day shift world.

  22. Nurse4U

    WOW I’m so glad I’m not the only night person who feels this way! You said it all (And better then i would of said it!!)

  23. tapies2324 CNA

    i’ve been working nights at a nursing and rehab for 6 years now. i have had one meeting scheduled for 7am..began at 730, no snack machine, calls at noon or one pm having to apologize to my kids for missing their 10 am awards ceremony,dirty looks from day people for picking up a six pack of beer at 8 am. i dont even get differental. i should get paid for not having a normal life. only perk is less maddness and no meals lol..or interns. but i have to reiterate the fact that they DO NOT JUST SLEEP AT NIGHT!!! , IM EXHAUSTED when i get home. quadrupal the work load…but no meals..damn….why dont i work days. oh yeah…bitchy RNs. jerky dr’s, family that think i have twelve pairs of hands, and my sassy mouth rofl

  24. maywinters

    I may not be a nurse yet but I have been a CNA for almost 7 years and its not that much different for the Nurse Assistants either! when I punch in at 1900 I dont get to even think about sitting down until 0200….and then my coworkers and bosses ask me why I dont want to work extra shifts…hmmmm…lets see about that one!! I am sooooo dang tired after three nights of working 36 hours and having 25-30 pts all to myself (in PEDI! Although I do love working night shift and working on PEDI and I wouldnt change that) but we CNA;s sure could use alot more help when there is only one of us on the floor….so I really can relate with you guys on this stuff….Oh and having nurses yell at you for stuff that is out of your control or stuff that isnt your fault is just AWESOME!! (sarcastically speaking) lol

  25. Suzie Farthing RN

    Great article, Amy!
    Although my night shifts are long over, I do remember one night shift rant. It is really difficult on night shift nurses when they are scheduled one day on and one day off. Your sleep schedule gets all messed up. It turns out to be like you never even had a day off!

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