You’re about to work your first 12-hour nursing shift, and the thought of it is making you a bit nervous. Until now, you’ve always had shorter shifts, so you want to prepare yourself to shine for a longer period of time.
No doubt, there will be an adjustment period, but it will become second nature in no time at all. Here’s some advice to help you ease into working a longer shift.
How to Prepare for Your First 12-Hour Shift
Get Plenty of Sleep
You need to be awake and alert for your entire shift, so make sure you’re able to get fully rested beforehand. This could be tricky if your shift starts at night or in the middle of the day, but plan ahead and make it work. If you need to sleep during the day, consider investing in blackout curtains to create an environment conducive to sleep.
Bring Healthy Food
Fueling your body right will help keep your energy levels up. You can’t depend on the hospital cafeteria to have healthy fare readily available — especially if you’re working overnight — so bring your own. Prepare healthy meals in advance, so you can just pull them out of the freezer and bring them to work. You’ll also want to bring several healthy snacks to curb your hunger throughout your shift.
When you’re busy at work, remembering to drink plenty of water can be a challenge, but it’s important. This will help keep your body healthy, so you can maintain peak performance throughout your shift. The amount of water you’re supposed to drink each day varies by experts, but eight 8-ounce glasses is typically considered the standard. If possible, bring a big water bottle to work, so you can easily monitor how much you’ve consumed.
Use Downtime to Help Others
Slow periods can make your 12-hour shift seem to drag on forever. If you find yourself without much to do at any point, volunteer to help a fellow nurse with their work. Staying busy will make the time pass faster, and helping a busier colleague out is a nice thing to do.
You’ll likely be allotted many breaks throughout your 12-hour shift, so be sure to take them — even if you don’t feel like doing so is necessary. This will give you time to relax and recharge, because long shifts are a marathon, not a sprint.
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