The other day I made the somewhat-foolish choice to work a double shift. Two 8-hour shifts, back to back, 3pm to 7:30am.
Why did I do this, you ask? Well for several reasons:
- The NICU was short on nurses, and I wanted to help
- Bragging rights / knowledge that I could survive 16 hours at work
- Double time + night shift differential + weekend differential = LOTS o’ pay 🙂
The first 8 hours were time-and-a-half, and the second 8 hours was the crazy double/nights/weekend pay, due to extreme circumstances and the desperate need for nurses that night. There are a lot of nurses who will volunteer to work an extra four hours before or after their shift, but I don’t think it’s that common for nurses on my unit to volunteer to work 16 hours straight. And now I know why.
The first 8 hours weren’t bad because that’s what I normally work. The next 8 hours, however… that’s when things got pretty rough in spots, mainly when I was on break. If you keep busy it’s easier to stay awake. When you sit down, then your body starts to shut down, and then it’s extremely difficult to get started again.
The main disappointment I remember from that night was the fact that I didn’t really see that much teamwork. One of our fellow residents did her preceptorship on night shift, and she told us all that the teamwork was amazing. Maybe I was just with a not-so-good group of nurses, or maybe everyone was just having an off night. I don’t know. Hopefully it will get better.
Right about 4am it got rough, and every part of my being wanted to sleep for three days straight. But then around 6am I got a little jolt of energy because I knew that I would be done in about an hour. Even if you stay on top of things throughout your shift, you will always find that there are a million little things to do just before the end!
The best part about the end of the shift was that my parents came to pick me up and drive me home. Part of me thought that it sounded like I was still a child, but then I decided not to care – I just didn’t want to drive home! I hadn’t slept in 24 hours, and I was very grateful to doze off on the drive home. See, there are perks to living at home with your parents after you are a grown adult! (Thanks Mom and Dad!)