Getting through your first night shift
07th Sep, 2017
When first-year student nurse, Claire Carmichael, was faced with her very first night shift, she was worried about how she would cope. Claire listed some of her concerns within her personal blog:
“What if I fall asleep? What if it’s really quiet and I sit and just nod off?”
Fast-forward a few months and Claire is a seasoned night-shifter. But how did she go from night shift newbie to late-night healthcare hero? We’re about to find out…
How did you deal with your night shift anxieties?
As a healthcare student, it’s normal to feel a bit nervous. What really helps in dealing with these anxieties is talking about them. Talk about them with your friends, family, personal tutor and other students. You will soon see that you aren’t the only person feeling anxious.
How did you feel when you were told about your first night shifts?
I love my sleep (I’m usually asleep by 10pm), so when I first heard I would be doing three nights in a row, I had a mini meltdown. I thought ‘I can’t do this; how will I cope?!’
After my small meltdown and talking about it with some other people, I organised myself for the nights ahead.
What did you do to prepare?
I made sure to get up early (5am) on the day, and stayed awake doing house work and preparing my things for the shift – fuel for the night and plenty of fluids!
At around 1pm, I got myself tucked back up into my bed and set my alarm for 3pm. I was amazed to actually sleep through! When I woke up, I felt really tired, which made me panic that I wouldn’t last my shift.
I got to the hospital nice and early, making sure I left enough time for a coffee on arrival!
How did you feel during your first night shift?
At around 3am, I started to feel a little tired but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The shift, surprisingly, went very quickly and I didn’t fall asleep once, haha!
It wasn’t until the shift was over and the daylight hit me that the tiredness really kicked in. I was so tired when I got home that I was out like a light.
What do you think about night shifts now that you’ve experienced a few?
On reflection of my experience, nights are good for students because they show how the 24-hour system works in healthcare. Night shifts are much quieter than days so you can prioritise your work load much better and steadier.
What tips do you have for a first night-shifter?
Take some revision or any documents/assignments you need to complete along with you. If you have a quiet period on your shift, it’s the perfect way to keep your brain active. Make the most of that quiet period to get as much of your work done as you can.
Adjusting to the different timings and changes in your eating and drinking patterns can be difficult but all in all, it is worth the experience and if you organise it well, you will do amazingly.
Claire Carmichael is a guest writer for Your World Healthcare, providing an insight on what it's like to be a student nurse in the United Kingdom. Look out for more posts from Claire in the future!
Are you a healthcare student who is keen to provide some insight too? Contact [email protected] and speak to us about becoming a guest writer, just like Claire!
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