One of the worst feelings, in my opinion, is waking up in the morning (or early afternoon) and immediately planning for my afternoon nap. Nonetheless, this has become my life as I have transitioned from working days to working nights. After completing my first week on nights since nursing school, I have come to the realization that I like my patient’s awake. I thrive on the fast paced environment on days, and I genuinely enjoy working with doctors and NPs that circulate the floor during the day. The part I miss the most though is the patient education; we’re so busy from 1900-2300 that there’s no time to spend more than a couple of minutes with your patients. Once things slow down, ideally you want them to sleep, so barring complications the next time you interact with them is to draw their blood at 0400. And I don’t know about you, but the last thing I would want to do at 0400 is have a conversation with anyone. In fact, most of my patients just stick their arm out, let me draw their blood, and then roll over and try to catch a few more precious hours of sleep before the hubbub of the day overtakes them. I often tell my patients that they come to the hospital to get well, not get sleep. Unfortunately it often seems like the two are mutually exclusive. By the time my patients start to wake up in the morning, I am almost on my way out the door. They are awake just long enough for me to introduce them to their next nurse and say my goodbyes as I stumble my way home for some much needed sleep.
All of that said, there is a certain charm to nights. You have more time to review patient charts and orders; and when things go wrong on nights the entire floor pulls together to help get you, and your patients!, through it. Not to say that doesn’t happen on days, but it’s just a bit less hectic generally. Perhaps the only thing that’s made me truly laugh on nights are the patients who tell me they don’t want to call me because “I look like I need my rest!” However, as much as I love my night shift coworkers I am looking forward to hopefully transitioning back to days in the next couple of months. That being said I think it’s time for my pre-work nap before I start funneling caffeine into my system :)