Nursing is a job that requires continuity of care. Patients need to have nurses taking care of them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This requires nurses to work on continuous shifting schedules to ensure that efficient, effective, and high quality of continuous nursing care is achieved.
Hospital Nurses work on a shifting schedule. The shifts may either be 8 hours or 12 hours. Whatever the case may be, there would be nurses who would be assigned to work on graveyard duty, away from the sun and into the difficult, Melatonin-rich evening. Working the graveyard shift is one of the most difficult challenges that a nurse faces. It is during this time that nurses are required to stay up and battle against their Circadian rhythms to render care. It is a time where clients sleep and the hospital is a very quiet place. Albeit this tranquility, nurses must still be able to look out for their clients and render the best care for them no matter what.
It is very serious business and it is quite difficult to work the Graveyard Shift, but there can be many ways on how a nurse can cope up and in turn work the shift safer and more comfortably.
No, I do not mean sleep during the shift. If you know you are going to go on graveyard duty, try to sleep during the day to give yourself refreshment and to catch up with sleep. Try to reverse your biological clock.
Take a rest during the day. Instead of spending time on the Internet, or doing energy-expending activities, try to rest during the day in order to conserve energy for the evening. You will need all the rest you can have.
Prepare yourself physically and mentally that you will work on Graveyard. Your psyche and your homeostasis with yourself are very important. You must have the willpower to stay awake and believe that you can work the shift with grace and professionalism.
Food is your source of energy. Never go on graveyard duty without eating. Also, try to eat like you would eat during the day. You may say that you already ate dinner, but remember that you are to stay awake for the entire night and you will need much energy.
If you are fond of coffee, try to drink some to invigorate your senses. While on duty, you may try to sip some of it as well. It may help you stay awake during the night. Plus, the warmth invigorates your senses.
If the nurse’s station is too quiet, chat with your colleagues. The night shift is not as busy as the day shift and this gives you a chance to chat with your fellow nurses and get to know them better. It also passes the time and fosters unit harmony.
Think of your clients. You are in charge of taking care of them. You must not fail at any cost.
Embrace the graveyard shift. It may be tiring, but it is also an opportunity for you to discover your strength. It is very much different from the day shift, but it does teaches you things that you will never know during the day, especially on the virtues of beneficence, non-maleficence, perseverance, altruism, professionalism, and sacrifice.
The graveyard shift is not something to be dreaded. It is a challenge that tests our flexibility, physical and mental stability, and professionalism as nurses. It may be a dark place, but do remember: the best nurses always carry the light and shine this light to the world through their passion and care.