Working a night shift often goes hand in hand with nursing, after all – nursing is not a 9-5 job. People need medical care 24/7, and the working hours for those in the healthcare sector vary greatly. Nurses who are new to the role often wonder what the pros are to working the nightshift, and when you hear those dreaded words for the first time it conjures up images of being exhausted at 3AM with a patient that won’t stop pressing the call light whilst you can barely keep your eyes open.
The nickname ‘graveyard shift’ does nothing to redeem the out of hours work shift reputation, but in reality, there are several benefits to working on the night shift. While the night shift schedule does possess a certain set of obstacles, many nurses find working at night to be highly rewarding, and most even prefer it! We’re going to take a look at some of the top reasons why you should be choosing to take out of hours work, and what benefits and skills it can bring you.
1. Financial benefits
We are going to start with the most obvious reason why people choose to work the night shift. It stands to reason that if you are working unsociable, out of hour work shifts that you will be financially compensated for doing so. It makes sense – when you are working the night shift you have to change your whole sleeping pattern and daytime routine, meaning you end up missing out on certain aspects of daily life. It also means that you may have to deal with situations at work without a full team, or all the members of senior management on site, so you do have to have your wits about you at all times! At first glance, it may only seem like a small difference to your payslip, but over the year it will certainly add up!
2. Reduced distractions
When you are working the night shift, you will notice that the department runs on a skeleton staff rather than a full team. This means that there are a lot less distractions to interrupt your workflow with, and you can focus solely on your patients and giving them the best possible care. It may seem like a small thing, but even minor distractions can up to hours of lost productivity over time. Working the night shift also means that there will be no visitors standing around and asking for directions. Whilst it is always lovely to see families coming to see their relatives in hospital, it can become an additional chore if they insist on asking you questions every time you walk past. By working the night shift, you can focus your time and energy on the patients, without having to worry about making small talk with relatives.
3. It makes you self-reliant
Due to the slower pace on the ward at night, and less hospital traffic from other staff members, the night shift can offer a more easy going pace for nurses (although many nurses wouldn’t dare say this out loud in case they jinxed the shift!). With fewer incoming patients and less staff on duty, it gives nurses a greater chance to practice self-reliance. This experience will often lead to an abundance of leadership skills that will stay with you throughout your whole careers. It means that your knowledge is tested and you will gain confidence in your training and your skills, an opportunity that is sometimes not readily available when working with so many others on the day shift.
4. Great workplace relationships
You will often find that there will be a handful of people who always opt for the night shift, and when the hustle and rush of the day shift ends there is a different kind of calm that settles on the ward. This means that you can get to know your patients in a more meaningful way as conversations can be longer and not rushed, and you will get the chance to know your patients better than you day shift counterparts. Night shifts allow more time for you to converse with both patients and co-workers without being called off for other duties as often and sharing stories with patients can be beneficial for both the patients in care and the nurses who are caring for them. In the same way, the night shift can help you foster solid and long-lasting relationships with your fellow night-shift employees – which allows you a proper chance to learn from each other and does wonders for teamwork skills.
5. It can help you juggle your schedule
Some of the main reasons to take on the night shifts include increased pay or increased shift availability, but one thing that many people overlook is how night shifts can help you to juggle your schedule in a way that day shifts can’t. Sleep is important when you are working the night shift, and after a long shift many people can find it easier to fit in enough sleeping hours during the day to stave off burnout, something that can be difficult when working on the dayshift. You will find that you have time to fit in appointments or complete any errands during the day as you every morning and afternoon off. Many people find that sleeping during the morning and waking up to do anything necessary, then going back to sleep before your shift is a more effective way to ensure that you go back to work feeling refreshed and awake. It is beneficial for nurses who are looking to further their education, as they will be able to fit in classes in the afternoon when they would otherwise be working.
6. Offers patients a better level of patient care
Another perk of working the graveyard shift is that you can often offer your patients a better level of care than you can when working during the day. At night, there will be only minor changes to patients care plans, meaning you simply have to keep everyone stable until the morning. This allows you to focus on the patient themselves, rather than worrying about the constant changes to their condition that often happen during the day. It also means that no planned procedures will be performed at night (unless they are an emergency!). This means that you won’t have to be on stand-by to help, and it takes away the added stress and pressure. You won’t have to worry about helping with any procedures, or the added paperwork that comes with them! You can focus wholly on your patient and the care that you are delivering.
7. You can set up the day shift nurses for success!
You may not realise it, but it is the night shift nurses that set everyone else up for a successful day at work. Thanks to the (often) calmer atmosphere in the department during the night, working on the night shift means that you can complete any unfinished jobs from the day, and leave a well-organised scene for the day nurses to come into. Many people don’t realise how integral this step can be, and it definitely leaves a positive impact on everyone’s work environment.
It is safe to say that opting to do the night shift is not for the faint hearted – you will have to adjust to different and unusual sleeping patterns and become self sufficient when working. However, no matter how challenging it can be there are also a whole host of benefits that you may not have realised. From a slower pace of work that can help leave you more organised, to delivering a better quality of patient care – the night shift is often underrated! If you get your schedule sorted and stick to a routine, you may even end up preferring working the night shift!