Wait, so you chose to flip back and forth?
The bewilderment and confusion in their voices should have been hint enough.
So you’re rotating six weeks on days and then six weeks on nights… You’re nuts. You’ll end up picking “us” in the end. You’ll see…
As I write this article today, this marks the sixth month of being on my own as an RN I since the Residency Program. During my first year here in our beloved PICU, I have had the incredible pleasure and privilege to work beside ____ unique nurses, each with their own style of teaching, caring, and saving lives. In spite of their nuances and our different interactions, PICU nurses all felt the same way:
a) I was crazy for switching back and forth night and day shifts.
b) Each respective RN’s shift was superior to the one whose schedule he or she was not working.
c) The pay differential is definitely noticeable.
After three six-week schedules had gone by, I finally came to my senses and realized the rotating lifestyle was not quite sustainable for life outside of the hospital. Sleeping all day and all night is not generally how I would like to spend my days off. Duly noted and lesson learned.
But beyond just lessons on sleep hygiene, I learned a thing or two on my Tour de Shifts (maybe three or four, but you’ll have to ask me in person J). Most of these lessons, you seasoned nurses (basically who started before Sept 2013) have probably already learned. But bear with me as I attempt to justify the 18 weeks of instability I put myself through…
- Being mindful about stocking the carts. Donning my appropriate combined-droplet precaution personal protective gear and beginning my 0800 or 2000 assessment only to realize elbow-deep in feces that there are no more diapers, wipes, flushes, or sterile water in the room ranks high up there on my list of things that do not set me up for success. On my stint of day shifts, I realized how I can be a more helpful Night Shifter by replenishing dwindling supplies. I also realized on my next six weeks of night shifts that I took Jose for granted on Day Shift, making me oblivious to the supplies I left for the night shift. If he restocked my cart on the earlier part of morning, I may have run low on supplies by 1855 and had no idea.
- Not passing judgment during report. I’ll never forget the glaring eyes of judgment I got when I told the next nurse that I did not do the ADB. (Side note: if you get report from me now, you’ll notice I will even stay over if I have to make sure the ADB gets done just so I never have to feel those piercing eyes again.) Being on the receiving end of judgment while giving report has made me hyper aware of not being on the giving end of judgment as well. Sometimes we think we know how the previous shift went, but the bottom line is this: we were not here 12 hours prior. Losing that IV access and delaying all those IV medications, being paired between a Q1H neuro check patient and a transferrable heme/onc-er who has a million PO meds but hates anyone who isn’t Mom or Dad, being neighbors with a truly sick and unstable patient, helping out during codes, … Sure, these are not excuses for shoddy bedside nursing. But I’m sure we can all identify with a time when we just didn’t have enough hands and feet to chart on which finger the pulse ox is or label when we changed the suction canister/tubing. Instead of a demoralizing look or exasperated sigh next time, I will try to think of ways to boost my fellow comrade’s confidence in hopes of encouraging him or her to improve and refine skill.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this is that the key to success in working in this special 3East unit is to always strive to set the next person up for success. It is not about being lazy and wanting supplies within reach at all times. It is not about catching others’ mistakes to get them in trouble or to make oneself feel superior during report. It is about maintaining safety, health, and support for not only our patients but also our fellow RNs and interdisciplinary team members to be the best us that we can be. I know y’all hear this enough, but the teamwork on this unit is second to none. I feel invested in, worthy, and inspired to better myself so that I can eventually help invest in others as well. I hope the support I feel from you all will not just end with me, but that I can steward that support forward. I know my fellow September 2013 RN Residents will agree in thanking you all for a truly spectacular first year! Please keep me accountable to my words in the shifts to come :)