With the exception of Thursday, I haven’t worked a day shift in over a year so I have forgotten much of how day shift works. Essentially, you’re busy until you have a small breather (aka the calm before the storm) which is exactly what happened to the unit today. Busy morning getting all the meds given and assessments done and other various tasks between rounds and of course, awaiting a transfer bed. Which came at 11am. Then, I luckily had enough time to finish up with my other patient and round with her physicians. Great! All while awaiting my next patient (who was already assigned to the room). While waiting, the assignment changed three times and finally settled on a patient that I learned the name of about 10 minutes before she rolled up. And it was a good one (for the ICU…which means things were not great for the patient but I got use my skills)! However, the patient was even too good for the ICU and was quickly rolled off to the OR. And then there was just enough time to finish up charting and wait for night shift.
But during that time I was able to reflect a little on what the past two day shifts had taught me.
1. People are better learners on days.
There is a whole different attitude from patients on days vs. nights when it comes to learning. And as it should be. I learn better during the day than at night too. I’m usually just tired enough that learning anything at night is really difficult. It’s the same for patients. I had forgotten how much education I do on days when patients and families are awake and asking good questions. Plus it was nice to have a really eager learner.
2. My body loves days but my need for autonomy loves nights.
I have actually felt wonderful working days. I was surprised that I wasn’t nodding off during the mid-morning since that’s usually a rough time for me at home with the boys. Waking up at 5am (as my oldest apparently does every day) was much easier than I remember it being. And I think I was even mentally awake…however, I had drank over half my cup of coffee by 9am…that might have helped too. I was very thankful that I didn’t have to use my lunch break (and potty break) to take a quick nap (wait…who does that?) because the boys kept me up when I should have napped. I do really miss the alertness that comes with days…I’m able to be more active at work and at home, however, I did reach a point on Friday night (between my two shifts) where I was just exhausted. That part of days, the nurse hangover, I don’t miss that.
But I really missed how on nights I have the freedom to finish up assessing and medicating my patients to let them sleep and I can more closely read their charts or attempt to learn something new. There’s just less structure to nights and sometimes that’s really nice.
3. The stuff I know, I know.
One of my patients had a balloon pump. I was so intimidated by that. I haven’t had many cardiac devices in the year that I’ve been on this unit and I’m still very early in learning about them. I also had a patient with a special device that measures continuous cardiac output. I have learned about both of these devices and I have passed tests and had hands-on experience with them during education but I still feel inadequate (I need to do my 3 Rs for these devices!).
But when it came to teaching my coworker how to use a breast pump on a patient, I was like a kid in a candy store. I LOVE educating on what I know as a nurse. Partially because it makes me feel important and partially because I realize that I do know something and can benefit others with my knowledge. (If you couldn’t tell from my first point) I love educating! I feel a sense of empowerment when I know what I need to be asking the doctors in order to best move my patient forward in their care. On days I don’t know this, I feel like I am a baby nurse all over again, with nothing to offer and everything to learn.
Anyway, I hope that you can find some inspiration in this post to move you forward in patient care.