Friday, September 9, 2016

Night Shift as the Clean Slate

I love working nights. I could work four or five nights in a row without a sweat, but when I have to work days, three is probably my limit. I do not do well with waking up early. When I work days, I’m always worried about going to bed on time, or early so that I get enough sleep. When I work days, I need a good 7-8 hours of sleep. When I work nights, I really only need 5-6. I can’t explain it, but my sleep schedule just appreciates nights better than days.

There’s other advantages to working nights. There’s less chaos during the day. I always think of night shift as the clean slate crew. They take all of the leftover needs, clean it up, and leave it fresh for a new day. In one facility I worked at, I would spend my entire first night going through orders, double checking that everything had been filed correctly. In another, I would actually reorganize the nurses’ station, because everything would get tossed around, left wherever, because the day shift didn’t have time to put things back. Sometimes, I would even wipe down the counters and sweep the floor.

Even when I worked management, I still believed in the importance of a clean slate. Before I left for the day, I would organize all of my thoughts, make sure that I didn’t leave any loose papers on my desk, and then wipe down my desk. That way, I know that the next shift – still me, wouldn’t have to clean up from the day before.

In one facility, when I was off for three or four days, I would come back to a huge pile of orders and papers. Things that none of the other nurses deemed important enough to go through. Here’s the thing. When it’s just one day’s worth, it’s not that hard to do. When it’s three or four, then it gets a little exhausting to go through. It’s so much easier to clean as you go, but on day shift, that isn’t always possible. That’s why we need to work as a team.

There are some things night shift can’t do. Phone calls get hard. Doctors’ offices are closed at night, and calls are only for emergencies. I know day shift covers my back. Why not cover theirs as well?

So I do my part. I clean up, I organize, and I leave them a clean slate.