Surviving Nursing Hours: Six Essential Tips

NursingNovember 13, 2013

Nursing hours can be difficult, and nursing school clinical hours can be brutal. Although the number of hours per program can vary, you will be expected to work 12-hour shifts, which can be a huge adjustment for you. Here are six tips to help you thrive rather than just survive in this work setting:

1. Get into fighting shape

You don't have to run marathons or anything of that sort, but nursing is an active profession. You will spend a lot of time on your feet, in addition to lifting patients, crouching, reaching, and making beds. Build up your endurance by getting your body into shape. Walk on the treadmill while you watch television. Stand rather than sit when you are at home. Do some form of muscle toning. Get your body ready for those long nursing hours by staying active for a solid 12 hours. You will be glad you did.

2. Get comfy shoes

Truly, one of the first side effects from these long hours is tired feet. A comfy pair of shoes can make all the difference. Invest in your feet and it will reward you greatly. Also, don't be afraid to replace worn out shoes!

3. Eat good food and drink plenty of water

Your body is a finely tuned machine. Put high-octane, quality food in your body and this will result in an output of quality performance. Imagine how you feel after eating an apple versus a package of cookies. The cookies are delicious, but the sugar spike will lead to a sugar crash and you'll be dragging your feet by the afternoon. Consume plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Don't forget to drink lots of water, and you'll be ready to rock and roll!

4. Rest yourself

Try not to be up too late the night before you pull a 12-hour shift. It's a recipe for disaster. Also, maintain healthy sleep habits on your off nights. Everyone needs sleep, and caffeine is not a satisfactory substitute for a well-rested mind and body.

5. Take breaks

Nurses are notorious for their ability to avoid taking a bathroom break during their entire shift. As a student, you may feel pressured to keep up with that pace, but it is healthy to take a few minutes for yourself and relax. Have a healthy snack or perhaps simply process the things you are seeing and learning. You will be able to return energized and ready to jump back into your shift again.

6. Work hard

This may sound counterintuitive, but staying busy makes the time fly pass quickly. If you just sit and watch the clock, the shift will seem longer and your energy levels will drop. If you find yourself with nothing to do, ask someone if you can be of assistance to them. You will not only seem motivated, but the shift will be over before you know it.

In time, the body adjusts to the 12-hour shift. With 48 percent of registered nurses working in private hospitals as of 2010, as noted by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, your nursing school experience can prepare you for working these long shifts in your dream job as a registered nurse.


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