How to Survive Working a Double Shift


How often have you been approached by your nursing supervisor or nurse manager and asked to work a double? If you’re like me, you’ve been asked more often than you can count on your fingers and toes.
Don’t do a double too often. You can be a team player, but learn to say no. We all love the extra cash, but doing too many doubles can cause burnout. Also, an extra shift or two can put a strain on your personal life, so check in with your relationships outside of work before agreeing to work a double shift. Don’t work doubles before going on vacation, even if you need the money; you will not enjoy your time off. And listen to your body—it will tell you when you’re doing too much.

So how do you survive a double shift? Here are some tips.

Stay Fueled
You’ll need food to keep you energized through a double.

  • Run, don’t walk, to get something to eat! Hopefully you get asked to work a double before the cafeteria closes. If you work in an area with delivery, order enough food for two meals and a snack.
  • Eat healthfully. You don’t want to feel weighed down by heavy, greasy foods or get a sugar rush and then suffer the subsequent crash that comes right afterward.
  • Limit your caffeine consumption. Really! It’ll only contribute to the jitters and acid reflux.
  • Stay away from foods that are known to enhance sleep. These include turkey, bananas, oats, peanuts, milk and carbohydrates. Stick with a high-protein meal or snack to keep your brain stimulated.
  • Spread out your meals by grazing. It’s never wise to inhale your meals when you’re working long shifts. Your body needs continuous fuel, so save the large, heavy meals for when you get home.

Stay Productive
You can’t sleep while you’re moving! Here’s a list of ways to stay busy on a double:

Candace Finch, BSN, RN
Candace Finch, BSN, RN is a Med/Surg, orthopedic and bariatric nurse. Candace began her nursing career after the age of 40 and completed her BSN and MSN, Ed from Empire State College Distance Learning. She is a firm believer that it is never too late to reinvent yourself. As a mother of two children with Type 1 Diabetes, she has learned that whatever God gives you can be used to benefits others. She enjoys quiet time with her husband and family, reading non-fiction books, listening to contemporary Christian music and traveling with her daughter to Disney World.

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