Nurses who are new to the field are often curious about the pros and cons of working night shifts. While the night shift schedule poses a particular set of obstacles, many nurses find working at night to be highly rewarding. It’s a great way to cultivate some of the most important skills any successful nurse needs.
Less hospital traffic and a slower pace is a reality for most night shifts (although most night-shift nurses would dare utter those words). This often affords nurses a more easygoing pace than their day shift counterparts. Fewer incoming patients means less staff on duty, giving night shift nurses the opportunity to practice a greater level of self-reliance.
This experience often translates to an abundance of leadership skills that will last throughout a nurse’s career. It also helps them test their knowledge and gain the confidence to know that their training and expertise really do stand up to challenges in a workplace setting.
Since working during the day is so much more common, night shift workers are usually on a different schedule than their spouses, children, and friends. This means they must quickly learn how to make the most of their off-duty time.
Arriving home shortly after sunrise can make it easy to get things done in the early morning, when the world is just waking up. Night shift nurses realize the importance of “me” time. They may be more inclined to spend quality moments with those they’re closest to, when they can find the time.
When the hustle and bustle of the day subsides, night shift nurses end up getting to know their patients in different and meaningful ways. Conversations can be longer, and nurses get the chance to hear more about their patients’ lives. Night shifts foster more time to converse with patients and coworkers, Keeping lonely patients company by sharing stories can be beneficial and uplifting for both patients and the nurses who care for them.
In much the same way, nurses make long-lasting friendships with their fellow night shift employees. The experience of working into the wee hours of the night means night shift nurses naturally build a strong sense of camaraderie. With less overall staff from different departments bustling through the work environment, the coworkers who are on duty have the chance to learn from one another and let their teamwork shine.
There are several reasons why nurses take on night shifts, like higher pay and increased shift availability. But another hidden gem in the night shift schedule is how well it can work for those nurses who are focused on continuing their education. Going back to school can be a challenge for nurses with very busy daytime schedules; night shift nurses get to take classes during the afternoon or evening that they might otherwise be unavailable for.
Nurses also know that getting enough sleep is a crucial component of a job well done, and they find ways to fit in enough snoozing hours to stave off burnout and keep themselves going strong. They learn early on that blackout curtains, earplugs, and a sleeping mask are great ways to signal to the body that it’s time for sleep — even as the neighbors are just hitting snooze.
Night shift nurses set everyone up for success. One of the most influential ways night shift nurses make a positive impact on the work environment occurs after they’ve gone home. The calmer night time hours mean that nurses can catch things that were left to do by nurses from earlier in the day, helping the incoming nurses on the next shift come in to a well-organized scene.