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There is no rest for the wicked!

Hey there readers!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed your holiday season and New Year’s shenanigans and avoided overindulging in food (or drink!). Hospital life continues on, as always, relatively unchanged despite the holiday period.

As there is just under a month left of the 2013 Graduate Nurse Program at Frankston Hospital, I’ll admit that I was struggling to come up with something to share with you for this post. That was until yesterday, which was my last day in a run of six shifts, all of which were back-to-back “late earlies”.

Any nurses reading that term will usually shudder. For the non-nurses out there, a “late early” is what we call it when you have an afternoon shift (which finishes after 10pm) is followed directly by a morning shift (starting at 7am). They’re a necessary evil for all nurses, but I can honestly say that this was one week’s roster I was not keen on, but back to my inspiration for this post.

Yesterday morning when I came back into work after a particularly restless night, I woke one of my patients, said good morning and assessed his vital signs. I’d been looking after this gentleman for the previous five shifts, and was the last person he spoke to before going to sleep the night before. As he woke, he looked me in the eye and simply asked “geez Mike, did you stay here all night?” As this has happened before, I gave my classic response of “well, we are a 24-hour service.” He chuckled, and I went on with my work, but it gave me an idea for this blog.

I will often bust out that line, especially when a patient is worried about ‘bothering’ nurses during the early morning or late in the night. But we are quite literally there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a part of the job that many non-shift workers don’t seem to understand. One week you will have Monday and Tuesday off, and the next, it may be Wednesday and Sunday. You could have a “late early” on the weekend, meaning that you can’t even catch up with friends or family between shifts.  Everyone else in your life may have the weekend off, and you’re recovering after a run of night shifts. Nurses prioritise (or maybe triage?) events in their life, until everything eventually boils down to one thought – is this more important than sleeping before my next shift?

For me personally, I’m quite lucky, not only because I adapted to shiftwork in my teenage years doing Maccas “overnighters”, but also because I don’t have children or any commitments which can’t be moved. That hasn’t meant I’m immune from the social implications of being a nurse though. My girlfriend is also a shift worker, which makes seeing each other for more than an hour almost impossible, unless we both have the day off. I’ve also been trying to catch up with a friend from school for three weeks now. But as I said, I’m quite lucky. Many of my colleagues, including other grads, struggle to fit in family time and just life in general, around the hectic work schedule of being a healthcare worker.

I guess that’s one of the reasons nurses stick together so well, even outside of the workplace. Not only are we all working together for a common goal, but we’re also more easily able to understand one another’s struggles outside of work. That’s one of our saving graces, that colleagues are always willing to put themselves out there, for you. I worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day whilst my co-workers had family time, but on New Year’s Eve, they watched over our patients whilst I had the night off. There are times when we will stay back late or start early, or take on extra patients to cover for somebody else (this is often the case when someone’s child falls off the monkey bars at school). We’re all on the same team, and that kind of unity is hard to beat. Outside of healthcare and the emergency services, I think that must be pretty hard to find, and is one of the really special things that makes it easy to go into work every single day.

With that being said, I hope everybody who is now back at work is enjoying themselves, and also working on their New Year’s Resolutions! It’s a very exciting time for my fellow grads and I, as we count down our last few shifts (I’ve only got 15 left!). What’s even more exciting is that on next month’s roster, there’s a whole swathe of new names, new faces, new graduates!

But until my next (and sadly, last) graduate blog post, stay safe!

– Mike

3 Comments

  1. Mandy Henry Jan 17 2014

    Love reading your blogs Mike & I work with your proud Mum.

  2. Chris Stephens Mar 04 2014

    Always a pleasure reading your blog Mike – keep up the good work..how lucky we are to have you working on the Peninsula.

  3. Glad I discovered this site! Nurses need a forum to vent, share, and conncet with other nurses outside of the work area, To work through the stressors, problems our field can create,and take its toll on our well being. We wont be able to solve every problem we encounter but may be able to find better ways to deal with the many issues we face. .And to be able to relate and support one another will surely be beneficial emotionally.

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