January 9, 2008

My First Night Shift

I did my first 12 hour shift lastnight. First of all, I love my new preceptor. She's really relaxed and fairly new herself (only 1.5 yrs out of school). We got on very well as we are both mild, mellow and roll with the punches. I did sense her getting overwhelmed with her pt's...most of them were pretty high acuity ones, but we managed to pull it off and everyone was well when the shift was over. What more can you ask for? I also got to start my night with my friend from nursing school, as shes working there too, so it was nice to see a friendly, familiar face. I can tell you right now that this floor will either make or break me. If you didn't know, I'm working on a general surgery floor with a lot of post-ops and medical pt's. The most challenging pt we had was an elderly man who had a fistula from his colon to his bladder. In other words, he had feces in his urine and urine in his feces. He had an open incision at the base of his pelvis that was packed with gauze, a colostomy on his left side, a JP drain on his right side and a nephrostoy tube on his back. Basically...his whole abdomen was opened and he had drains coming out of everywhere. Yes, I was very intimidated by that. While getting report I realized that I stopped paying attention midway through...it was just too much to take in. Thankfully, my preceptor was taking report. It concerns me that one day I'll be doing this alone...

I like the feel of the unit and the nurses all seem pretty friendly. However, everyone is so busy there is no time for hello my name is... Most of them are use to new faces, so mine was just another for them to smile at as they sped by. I spent most of the night following my preceptor around and giving meds. Soon I'll have my own pt's and will work a full day doing everything on my own. I pulled out a NG tube, that was fun. It's nothing really. This floor is nothing like the cake one I precepted on...it's (as Victoria Beckham would say...) mayjah! Don't get me wrong...I loved the floor I precepted on, but compared to med-surg, it's like night and day. There are no real "easy" pt's and it just makes me that much more excited. If I can handle this load, then I can handle any load. I'm excited for all that I will learn and do and hopefully I can manage it with grace and not become too hard. I know this floor will give me the experience I need as a new nurse so when I am certain of what I want to do, I will be able to do it as I will have so much experience under my belt. Who knows, I may love it so much I will want to stay forever....never say never.

I felt inhuman when the shift was over. At 4am I started getting really tired and I wasn't thinking as clear. Hopefully I will get use to this and won't start to drag so early. I went to sleep at 8am and slept until 4:30. I'm still tired. Basically, the day after your shift is spent sleeping, so you really don't have a day off. I think this will mess with me, as it already is. I don't like to lose time, especially not whole days. Hopefully I can pull off the 3 days in a row...I'm certainly gonna try.

Tomorrow's plans: More orientation and I can't wait! (rolling eyes).


Aimee said...

Hi Christy, I just wanted to say congrats on your first night shift. What are the hours you work? Is it 7am to 7pm? Are they 3 days in a row? My husband told me that it really concerns him that if/when I start working, that I won't be around to "take care of the house and kids" as much and it is going to cause a big disruption to the family. This really has me down and has made me second guess my decisions. Is it possible for new nurses to get daytime hours? Like from 7am to 7pm? Or even working in a doctors office for a normal 8 hours? Sometimes I wonder what the heck I am even doing. I have been a stay-at-home mom for over 10 1/2 years now and am scared that I am going to be overwhelmed by not being "here" 24 hours a day. How is your husband with you going to work? Has he had any concerns about it? How about your kids? Thank you for your blog and your responses - it's such a blessing to have your experiences to refer!

Christy ~ RN to be said...

Hi Aimee, good to hear from you. To answer a few of your questions... I will be working from 7pm-7am starting out, but my orientation is during the day and I don't get scheduled to work on the floor on the days I'm orienting. As far as being able to take care of the house and the kids, just have him read my blog. LOL I have 4 boys, as you probably already know, and my husband works full-time and also Aidan has a lot of medical issues and so far my house is still standing and my kids are all alive, so it's doable. It's all about time management and prioritizing.

During nursing school my house work was on the last of my list, so I hired my mom to come and clean on Fridays and I paid her for it. I also occasionally took my laundry to a laundry mat so I wouldn't waste a whole day of precious time doing it at home. You learn lots of shortcuts! On a day you have off, make some ready to heat meals. Soups & slow cooker meals work great. Just heat and eat. Ask for help...you will need that support and I learned quickly that all you have to do is ask. Fortunately, my husband is an IT contractor and makes his own schedule so we did a lot of shuffling and tag-teaming to get things done. He did have to cut back a little on his schedule, but mostly only on days when I needed quiet time to study. If it wasn't him doing it I would have asked a family member for help. There are always resources available, if you ask. I was almost always home from school before my kids got off the bus, so that wasn't too big an issue. Do you have other family or a neighbor that can ever cover for you if you'll be a little late?

As far as working once you are out of school...most hospitals only hire new grads to work nights (day shifters have senority), but that isn't always the case. There are some who are hired on days, or you can also request to work part-time & prn (as needed-on call) out of school too! I don't know about where you live...call around and see. Some facilities only have day time hours and that can be something for you to check into as well(dialysis centers, school nursing, research, dr's offices, home health, etc). Nursing has a WORLD of possibilities!!!!! If that doesn't pan out, give yourself 6 months to a year as a new grad at a hospital, then you can basically go anywhere and work days because you'll have some experience under your belt. I don't know if doctor's offices hire new grads or not either, so you should call around and ask that as well. It's normal to be scared and apprehensive...I certainly was and still am, but where there is a will there is a way and if it's really what you want you should express that to your husband and ask him to support you. Yes, he will do a lot that maybe he doesn't normally do right now, but family is about team work, right? You are going to be overwhelmed sometimes, but don't forget about your dream. Keep your focus and know that hard work really does pay off. I wish I could stay home all the time, especially now (sigh!), but it isn't very realistic for our family. My husband has had to pick up a lot of slack, and although he doesn't express it to me, I'm sure it bothers him sometimes, but he also knows that I'll be able to contribute a lot financially, so he shuts up about it. LOL Once I got my first pay check he was all gung-ho! He he.

As far as working nights and sleeping...luckily, and with God's will, Aidan will be starting kindergarten this year, so I'll be able to sleep while they're at school. Until then, we'll just have to take things one day at a time. My problem has always been to look too far into the future and stress about everything..."how are we going to do this & that?" Take things one day at a time,one issue at a time and everything always has a way of working out. Being a mom, a student and an employee brings on so much guilt, I know..it's so difficult... I struggle with this everyday, but work kind of takes my mind off all of my problems, so in many ways, it's good for me, as a person and not just someone's wife, mom, etc...ya know?

Nothing makes me more happy than to see others succeed and I know if you do this, you WILL succeed and things will fall into place for you. Just the other night I had a pt that I had also had while a student...she remembered me and my name and told me how caring I was to her and that made my night. She remembered... huh...I guess this is why I am doing it. I remember all of Aidan's nurses, good and bad, and they really make a difference. If you decide it's not what you want, it's ok, but give it a shot and see how it goes so you're not wondering "what if?". If you thik you should wait until the timing is better, that's ok too. God always leads you in the direction you need to be. I don't know your religious background or if you pray, but praying for guidance has always helped me. Sit with your thoughts and concentrate and maybe things will become more clear for you. Atleast you know that you can always change your mind. Nothing is written in stone. Don't beat yourself up...and don't forget to think of yourself too. Moms tend to forget that a lot.

I hope this helped some. I tend to ramble. Let me know what you decide. I'll be waiting on pins and needles...