Get Home Safely
Working a long night shift and driving home can be dangerous. If you can, carpool with other nurses and have a conversation with the driver on your way home. Use public transportation if available. If you must drive, take alternate routes home so you do not drive on autopilot home and drive defensively. Wear sunglasses so your body becomes less aware of the daylight.
Monitor Your Health
Night shift is not only hard on our sleep pattern, but also our bodies in general. Night shift nurses have higher risks of insomnia, daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, menstrual problems, colds, and weight gain compared to their day shift counterparts. Listen to your body, even if your brain disagrees. Sleep when you need sleep. Eat when you are hungry. Keep up with regular doctor visits and address any health issues you have head-on.
Bond With Your Co-Workers
Spend time getting to know your fellow night shift crusaders. Camaraderie fosters trust and bonding. Get to know each other by celebrating their triumphs and empathizing their struggles. Always be there to lend a hand. The tighter your bond – the more you can trust each other during a crisis on the unit and the better you will work as a team.
During night shift with most of your patients sleeping at one point or another, you can focus on patients while they’re awake one-on-one. Being that nurse that helps your patient in the middle of the night could help patients open up to you, giving you more insight into what may be going on with them. Also use any downtime to get extra things done (like stocking supplies, making charts, etc.) done for the oncoming day shift staff.
Healthy Work/Home Balance
With the nature of night shift, it is easy to feel as if you are becoming isolated from family and friends. Night shift nurses must really work hard at maintaining relationships. Keep in touch when you can via text, email, or phone calls. Make a “command center” in your home to keep up with activities that are going on with your family. Couples can look forward to a scheduled weekly date night to catch up with each other. Plan a family fun day on your day off to spend time with your children. Work to nurture these relationships and show the people in your life that they are important to you.
Using these tips, you can adjust and see the reason so many nurses love working night shift. The typical slower pace of working nights, along with the close-knit family-like team developed on night shift can add quality to your professional life. Use effective planning to balance your day-to-day commitments, sleeping when you need to sleep, keeping track of your health, and bond with your team to conquer and thrive the night shift.
Crystal Lynn Norris RN – Crystal has been a Registered Nurse specializing in Labor & Delivery for the past three years. Her favorite part of her profession is being able to help women to find their strength bringing new life into the world. Crystal is a wife and mother to her sweet daughter Ruby. In her free time, she enjoys writing, traveling, and spending time with family.
Experiences You Need
When it comes to being a great fit for a new job, experiences are king. Every nurse on the floor is doing their job well and at a minimum, maintaining the status quo. In order to set yourself apart for your next job, this shouldn’t be characteristic of you! Rather, you should be going above and beyond on your current unit seeking experiences both big and small that will set you apart and impress the hiring manager on your desired unit.
What are the experiences you could pursue? Join (or better yet lead) a committee. Get trained as a charge nurse. Fix a problem on the unit. Participate in a quality improvement project. Attend a conference and bring back ideas to implement on the unit. Talk with your manager about opportunities to get involved in projects that you might not be aware of. You might not be able to think of an idea within your specific role right now, but given that you work in healthcare, the opportunities are surely there.
Certifications to Consider
Getting a certification relevant to your next job is a fantastic way to build your resume as well as to show your commitment to getting that new job. Certifications can cost money and do take a significant amount of preparation time, which might sound less than ideal. Consider how it will feel to be certified when applying for that next job you’ve always wanted. It will give you a strong vote of confidence to know that you already hold a certification relevant to the job you’re applying to. That will be sure to catch the eye of any hiring manager.
Large hospital systems will demand a minimum of a master’s degree to be competitive in applying for leadership positions. Master’s degrees will take two years for full-time students and three years for part-time students. Doctorate nursing programs will last three to five years depending on full-time or part-time status. Planning will need to occur for what program to apply to, how to pay for school, and how to manage work and life while going to graduate school.
What can I do in my Current Role to Prepare for my Next Job?
If you are looking to prepare yourself for a specific new job or you simply want to position yourself for any future job, the quickest and best way to prepare yourself is at your current job. Leveraging your current position is the best thing you can do right now. How is our relationship with your current manager or supervisor? Does it need improvement or do you need to be noticed by them as an exemplary employee? Ensuring that your annual appraisal will be appealing is something that can be leveraged. Are there awards or recognition that you could pursue within your organization? Who from your leadership team could you meet-up with to get advice from or learn more about their role?
Employees are often unaware of the opportunities around them. Ensure you have taken full advantage of opportunities within your current role in order to prepare yourself for the next job move. That way when other factors align, you’re primed for the interview process!
When the time is right and the opportunity presents itself, you have to be ready for the next steps in pursuing your next job. In order to be prepared, you should have a resume and cover letter put together that require only minor editing. Our next post will discuss how to make your resume and cover letter stand out amongst the rest.
Tyler Faust is a full-time registered nurse and part-time freelance healthcare writer. He has his BSN and Master’s degree and Winona State University and has worked at Mayo Clinic for over 7 years. Currently, he works as a nurse manager. Tyler is a creative thinker, strategist, and passionate about leadership.