Day in the Life: Night Shift Nurse

12:33PM: Jolt awake, look at the clock, realize I’ve only been sleeping for 3.5 hours, have a mini panic attack about my lack of sleep, finally fall back asleep

2:44PM: Jolt awake again, lay there for 15 minutes trying to fall back asleep, realize that’s not happening no way no how.

3:01PM: Make some coffee, I blended a starbucks pike place Kcup in my Ninja with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of collagen powder

3:10PM: Read blogs, mess around on the internets, look up my work email and staffing for the night, mentally prepare for work, chat with the husband, cuddle my dog

3:52PM: Finish some laundry, fold clothes, unload the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, wipe down the kitchen, pack my lunch for work

4:22PM: Hop in the shower, put some dry shampoo in my hair and braid it, put on a little makeup (cc cream, concealer, powder, eyeliner, mascara), throw on my scrubs, check the upstairs room for Meeka (food, water, turn a light on) since we’ll both be gone all night.

5:03PM: Eat a banana and chug about 30 ounces of water from my Nalgene bottle. Take Meeka on a walk and let her run around off her leash in an empty field.

5:56PM: Leave for work, stop and get a subway sandwich and diet coke on the way

6:43PM: Arrive at work, put my lunch away, look up all my patients and start writing down their med times, updates, things to do, etc.

7:01PM: Clock in, team huddle where we discuss important topics for the night with all the nurses and charge nurse

7:05PM: Start getting report on my patients from the day shift nurses, continue to look stuff up on the computer, meet my patients, make a plan for the night.

7:47PM: Start my assessments on all my patients, hang an antibiotic, give some pain medicine, start the work flow

8:30PM: Attempt #1 to start charting my assessments, get way too busy with a bunch of tasks that pop up with my patients, pull a sheath which requires 2 nurses in the room, calling pharmacy to get some meds ordered up, doing BP’s and vitals every 5 minutes, and holding pressure on the femoral artery where a sheath is placed to do a cardiac catheterization for 20 minutes, hands start really aching and fingers are burning and cramping, but luckily no one passes out this time

9:25PM: Start passing meds to other patients, stopping to assess the sheath pull patient every 15 minutes

10:55PM: Finish med pass, start charting my first assessment and everything I’ve done in the last 4 hours. Keep messing up my typing because my fingers are so sore and crampy from holding hard pressure for 20 minutes.

11:27PM: Start my second assessment and vitals, do a few med passes

11:57PM: Chart at the computer while I start eating my lunch, end up reheating my pasta twice because I keep having to get up and take care of things

12:21AM: Continue with midnight vitals/assessments

1:42AM: Things are slowing down, catch up on all my charting, my buddy goes on break so I take report on her patients and answer call lights, continue charting, give a couple of meds

2:47AM: Give my buddy report on all my patients so I can go on break. Lay down on the break room couch, plug in my headphones, start listening to a travel podcast, drift off to sleep for about 30 minutes, wake up to my alarm feeling absolutely exhausted, my head hurts, and my eyes burn. I’m nauseous. This is typical for me at this time of night. Put in some eye drops and grab my yogurt.

3:51AM: Eat my yogurt, make peppermint tea, make my plan for the morning, end up throwing away the tea because it got cold before I could ever drink it

4:01AM: Start morning assessments, do some prep for a patient that is going to surgery, get a couple of patient’s AM weights, fill up waters, order some IV drugs that are about to run out, switch out a tube feeding and all the tubing, do AM med pass

5:25AM: More charting, start my care plans and update patient education in the computer. Make sure I chart all the turning of patients, walks, weights, etc. “If it’s not charted, it didn’t happen” runs through my brain about 78 times.

6:05AM: More meds to pass, double check my charting, help out another nurse with vitals on two of her patients

6:11AM: Get called into a patient’s room by a team of doctors that proceed to question me in front of my patient about not giving a medication fast enough that was due ten minutes before that, realize that the patient I was with in my other room is waiting on pain meds, but now I have to immediately assist the doctor.

6:27AM: Get in a heated discussion with said doctor in the hallway, finally get away so I can go give the waiting patient pain meds, get a big eye role from said patient as they told me they waited exactly 26 minutes for their medicine and they were hurting the whole time (it was not 26 minutes).

6:55AM: Plan out the report I will give to the day shift nurses, rack my brain for anything I missed

7:05AM: Start giving report to day shift nurses

7:33AM: Clock out, go to manager’s office to talk about the doctor that was belittling me in front of my patient, find out I did exactly the right thing and that the doctor was asking me to do something against policy. Feel a lot better about the situation, but frustrated that the doctor would not take my explanations and reasonings seriously.

7:47AM: Start my drive home, eat a Larabar, take my makeup off with a makeup wipe that I keep in my car, chug some water

8:10AM: Get to the point in my drive where I start drifting off, jolting myself awake multiple times. Contemplate pulling off on the side of the road and sleeping in my car, which I contemplate every single morning. My bed is my only motivation.

8:28AM: Finally get home, crawl upstairs and stare at myself in the mirror and think about all the gross things I was around at work as motivation to take a shower. Finally get in the shower for about 3 minutes, just long enough to squirt soap everywhere and get out. Throw on a long tee shirt, brush my teeth.

8:43AM: Try to make sure the curtains are completely closed, turn on the fan, and finally crawl into bed. Read on my kindle for about 3 minutes before I pass out and sleep like the dead.

1:11PM: Wake up wide awake, look at my phone for about ten minutes and force myself to close my eyes again, guessing it took about 30 minutes to go back to sleep.

3:11PM: Wake up, not able to go back to sleep this time. Get up, make coffee, and do it all over again.

The extremely stressful, probably boring to read about, and sleep deprived life of a nurse.


*Note: I am no longer on night shift. I have joined the life of the living on day shift, but I thought it’d be interesting to post this anyway.*


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