Five shifts from hell (and how to survive!)


iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

We’ve all had ’em…shifts that make you question whether you were insane the day you decided to become a nurse! When you’re having one of Those Shifts, what can you do to remedy the day? Some tongue-in-cheek advice is a good start….



Shift One: You arrive on your unit to discover that there are six patients in isolation. You have all of them. And one of them needs blood.

The best remedy for this day is vodka at the end of the shift. That, and asking pretty-please if you can have a different assignment the following shift.

Shift Two: In the middle of the day, one of your patients requires an emergent intubation at the same time that your other patient needs to be placed on continuous hemodialysis.

The best remedy for this day is praying that the hospital has to locate and transport a hemodialysis machine from a different location, thus giving you 30 minutes to get your patient intubated and restabilized.

Shift Three: You accept three patients from the postoperative care unit. Two of them have been there for four hours and have not had their PCAs hooked up or their blood transfusions started. The third is experiencing hallucinations and reacting violently.

The best remedy for this day is having been helpful and hardworking up to this point, so that your less-crap-stormed colleagues will do you a solid or two. Failing that, begging and promises of cookies might work. Do not assassinate your colleagues in the postop unit; you have no idea what they’ve been through.

Shift Four: You’re assigned two walkie-talkie patients in the critical care unit. One is a hospital executive; the other is a local celebrity. Both have inflated notions of their own importance and an itchy call-button finger.

The best remedy for this day is diazepam PRN, in your choice of milligrams, administered both to the patients and the nurse.

Shift Five: You’re assigned a nurse.

The remedy for this day is to become that person’s best friend. If that’s not possible, give up and go home.

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