How Nurses Can Cope Best With Long Shifts

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Feeling burnt out after long hospital shifts? You are not alone –many nurses struggle with getting through long, difficult shifts. Trying to stay alert and attentive after spending hours on your feet is not an easy task. However, there are a few different methods, strategies, and tips you can implement during your next long shift to try to get through it with a smile on your face. 

When you can, take time for yourself 

On your days off, it is important that you take some time to look after yourself and do exactly what you want, in order to reward yourself for your hard work and “check in” with yourself. Whether self-care for you means taking a nap, watching movies, hitting the gym, or cooking a beautiful meal, you should make sure that you have some time set aside each week to do exactly what you want. 

Depending on the environment you work in, you may find that you do not get a lunch break, much less a bathroom break during much of your shift. Twelve hours of not eating, staying on your feet, and actively caring for others certainly takes its toll, so you need to look after yourself as well. 

Do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion 

If you are working a 12-to-24-hour shift, it can be easy for your focus to blur – anyone who has worked such long shifts will understand! Unfortunately for nurses, losing focus even momentarily can have major consequences. When you are working long shifts, do not be afraid to ask your colleagues for a quick second opinion to verify medications, information, or your own conclusions.  

Ask for support 

If possible, you should try to build a support network around yourself and lean on the support of your friends and family when you need help. Perhaps you need your partner to manage the childcare on the evening after your long shift, or maybe your parents can take the kids once a month so that you and your partner can have a date night. No matter what support looks like to you, it is important you feel like you have the backing and encouragement of your loved ones, so you can feel strong enough to carry on. 

Consider your options 

The gerontology nursing program at Wilkes University helps nurses to specialize and deepen their understanding of the nursing field and the options available. If you still find that you cannot handle the very long shifts you work and perhaps even find yourself dreading the next long shift you have for days beforehand, perhaps you should consider exploring new fields. Not all of them in nursing require long shifts, night shifts, or shifts with odd hours. 

Many nursing fields have very regular, nine to five hours and also have a more relaxed atmosphere. Regular, normal hours can be especially beneficial for anyone who is trying to raise a family and also for anyone who just wants a better balance between their work and their life.