12 Nurse Essentials I Can’t Live Without!

12 Nurse Essentials I Can’t Live Without!

I have a few favorite nurse essentials that I keep with me each day I go to work.

I am a registered nurse who has worked in several departments in the hospital setting taking care of ER, Med Surg and ICU patients.  As a result, I have seen it all and then some.  And I still see new things that shock me everyday!  That is why it is so important to be prepared with the right nurse supplies to succeed no matter what happens.

I created this list of my favorite essentials I use as a nurse to help other nurses keep their professional nurse game on point!

Hospital corridor and nurse's station

(This post contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.) 

12 Nurse Essentials I Can’t Live Without

#1.  Littman Stethoscope

I bought a 3M Litmann Classic in nursing school and I have been using it ever since.  They are available in many different colors and have a “non chill” rim so you don’t shock your patients with a cold stethoscope.  Whether you are trying to obtain a manual blood pressure or listening to lung sounds, every nurse needs to have a stethoscope.

 

#2.  Koala-Qlip Stethoscope holder

Keeping your stethoscope around your neck can get in the way sometimes.  I love the Koala-Qlip stethoscope holder because it attaches firmly to my scrubs and it takes the weight of the stethoscope off my neck.

 

#3.  Nike Running Shoes

Nikes are my favorite shoes to wear for 12 hour shifts when I know I’m going to be on my feet all day long.  Wearing sturdy, no-slip shoes that help cushion your feet during 12 hour shifts is an absolute must!

#4.  Compression Socks

Compression stockings are often overlooked as a way to prevent some of the chronic issues that come from working in a profession where you are on your feet for such long hours.  Wearing compression socks helps to prevent varicose veins, improve venous blood flow, decrease the risk of blood clots and decrease swelling of the ankles and feet.  I have found that compression socks with 20-30mmHg is the right compression strength for me as a nurse.

#5.  Apple Watch

At work, I use the Apple Watch as a stopwatch, a timer, and as an alarm to remind myself of tasks I might forget when my shift gets crazy busy.  I can also receive and send text messages on it without having to carry my cell phone with me.  But my favorite thing about the Apple Watch is that it records how much I stand, exercise and move throughout my shift (it breaks them down into colorful rings)  and tells me how many total steps I get in a shift.  My record so far is 22,000 steps during a single shift!

#6.  Underscrub T-Shirts

Comfortable under scrub t-shirts are great because it can get cold in the hospital.  This brand is especially great because they have thumb holes in the sleeves.  I have them in multiple colors and I have several so that I always have a clean one to put on under my scrubs.

#7.  Insulated Coffee Mug

As a nurse and mom, I start my days very early, usually by 0530.  And then I’m usually on the road to get to work no later than 0600.  Which doesn’t leave a lot of time to sit for coffee.  I have used the same Contigo coffee mug for over a year and it is still in great condition.  It is 20 oz, is stainless and and has a lockable lid that is leak proof.  Best of all it keeps my coffee hot for up to 7 hours!

#8.  Hydro Cell Water Bottle

My Hydro Cell Water bottle is another item I have with me at all times.   It is 32 oz and has a leak proof wide mouth lid.  Nurses often forget to drink enough water during busy 12 hour shifts, but having this water bottle helps me stay hydrated.


#9.  Nursing Work Bag

I have this crossbody bag which is technically not a bag that is just for nurses.  But I love the design.  I use it to hold my nursing badge, stethoscope, water bottle, coffee mug, breast pump, pens, and all work-related paperwork that I need.

 

#10.  Lunch Bag

Making my own lunch everyday has several benefits.  I eat healthier, I don’t reach for junk that is in the break room because I pack my own healthy snacks, and I save a lot of money.  I’m also a foodie and hospital food just isn’t my cup of tea.  So I pack my lunch in my favorite lunch bag every evening before my shifts and I’m good to go.

 

#11.  Raptor Trauma Shears

The Raptor Shears look like a fancy pair of scissors.  But these functional and handy shears are actually 6 tools wrapped into one:

  • medical shears
  • strap cutter
  • ring cutter
  • ruler
  • oxygen tank wrench
  • carbide glass breaker

Many nurses I work with in the emergency room have the Raptor Shears and we use them frequently in emergency situations.  You can hook it to a belt or secure it using the pocket clip.   It also has a 25 year limited warranty and will last you throughout your nursing career or longer.  They also make a great nursing gift for a new graduate!

#12.  Retractable Pen

These retractable 4 color pens are great in case you need something to stand out in your work notes.  Or use different colors for different patients when taking report.  These pens are also great for color coding notes and flashcards for when you are studying for certifications!  I always have a few in my work bag and one on me while I am at work.

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Additional Recommended Reading

What nurse essentials do you use at work that you can’t live without?  Leave a comment!

101 Interesting Blog Post Ideas For Nurses

101 Interesting Blog Post Ideas For Nurses

I came up with this list of 101 interesting blog post ideas for nurses so that I could prove a point:  there are so many things that nurses can write aboutAnd I barely even scratched the surface with this list!

Nurses, by nature, are lifelong learners.

Nurses generally love learning.  If we didn’t, we would have never made it through nursing school in the first place.

In order to keep our skills up to par and our licenses current, nurses frequently take continuing education courses.  Many of us go a step further and become certified experts in our nursing specialties.  Most importantly though, being a nurse requires learning about changes in the field of medicine and being open to new challenges during each and every shift.  Healthcare is ever-changing, and it is increasingly important for nurses to stay fresh.

Nurses have a unique perspective that we can share with readers.

This is the coolest part about becoming a nurse blogger:  each post about nursing can be written about from a completely different perspective.  There are so many different specialties and diverse patient populations.  And every nurse has different skill sets and experiences within their career that they can share.  Furthermore, some nurses can bring entirely unique backgrounds into the mix, as many become nurses as a second or even third career.

In other words, nurses can bring a lot of life experience into their writing.  We have important information to share.

Becoming a nurse blogger has welcome benefits

First, you’ll become a better writer.  Each time you create a new piece you improve and continue to develop your writing skills.

Second, you’ll become a better thinker.  The blogging process helps you to stop and think deeper.  You will find yourself having stronger opinions about nurse topics that matter.  You will discover thoughts and ideas about nursing that you didn’t even know you had.


Nurse with ideas

I want to see more nurses blogging.

Since I began blogging in 2017, I have read nearly every nurse blog I can find on the internet.  I have seen some pretty creative nurse niches and been inspired by what my fellow nurse peers are writing about.

I especially love reading about the amazing things nurses are doing in the face of adversary.  For example, I recently read about how nurses in Paradise California continued to care for hospitalized patients during the most devastating fire in modern history.  At one point some were outside trying to fight flames.  Now if that isn’t blog-worthy, then nothing is.

(I really, really want to interview more nurses who go on medical missions and help people in need after catastrophic events.  Many nurses care for patients in the face of devastation and their stories should be shared.   In time, I will get there…)

101 interesting blog post ideas for nurses to write about.

I put a lot of effort into thinking of new topics that I would be interested in reading (or writing) about as a nurse.  Don’t be surprised if you see several of these topics on my blog over the next year.

So, without further ado, here it is: 101 interesting blog post ideas for nurses.  (If there is anything you thing I should add, please leave a comment and I will add it to my next list!)

  1.  Advice for getting through the first year as a nurse
  2.  Nursing specialty information: what to consider when you need a change
  3.  What happens when nurses go on strike
  4.   Stress relieving tips for nurses
  5.   Safe patient ratios
  6.  Nurses helping patients cope after natural disasters
  7.  How nurses can inspire their patients to take better care of themselves
  8.   Nurse burnout
  9.   Health & fitness for busy nurses
  10.  National nursing certifications
  11.  Helpful nursing products
  12.  15 reasons you need to try travel nursing
  13.  Ways to improve communication between nurses
  14.  Dealing with death as a caregiver
  15.  20 healthy snack alternatives to share in the break room.
  16.  Professional development for nurses
  17.  How to make sure you are saving enough for retirement as a nurse
  18.  Meditation for nurses
  19.  Ways to exercise on you nursing lunch break
  20.  How to budget as a nurse
  21.  The top 20 best nurse bloggers on the internet
  22.  Inspirational nurses to follow on social media
  23.  20 most hilarious nurse memes
  24.  Positive nursing quotes
  25.  Tips for becoming a better nurse writer
  26.  What to consider when looking for the right nursing specialty for you
  27.  How to change your nursing specialty
  28.  How to become a nurse blogger
  29.  Alternative nursing careers
  30.  20 reasons why nursing is a post-apocalyptic survival skill
  31.  How nursing inspired me to become a blogger
  32.  15 helpful ways to survive the night shift
  33.  Personality traits of nurses
  34.  Managing caregiver burden
  35. 30 blog post ideas for nurses who work with children
  36.  A day in the life of a nurse
  37.  Why HIPPA is so important for patients
  38.  9 qualities that all great nurses share
  39.  Dealing with difficult patients
  40.  Violence in healthcare: how nurses can protect themselves
  41.  The best (fill in the blank product) that every nurse needs
  42.  Educational resources for new nurses
  43.  11 ways to be a kick-ass preceptor to a new grad nurse
  44.  How to prepare for 12 hour shifts
  45.  Awesome work-from-home nurse jobs
  46.  Blood sugar stabilizing foods that nurses should eat during 12 hour shifts
  47.  9 great reasons why you should consider an MSN
  48.  Bad habits that nurses can develop
  49.  How LinkedIn a a great career resource for nurses
  50.  9 ways that nursing has changed over the years
  51. Nursing in the year 1950 vs nursing today
  52.  How to give quality CPR
  53.  Why becoming a certified nurse is so important
  54.  What does it take to become a Magnet Hospital
  55.  What being a nurse has taught me about compassion
  56.  Your favorite nursing specialty and why
  57.  Why more men need to join the nursing profession
  58. Interesting facts about famous nurses
  59.  Flight nursing
  60.  Nurse bullying in the workplace
  61.  7 things I wish patients understood about nurses
  62.  How to master IV starts
  63.  The most interesting nurse podcasts you must listen to now
  64.  Career advice from an experienced nurse
  65.  How to promote teamwork on a nursing unit
  66.  Misconceptions people have about new nurses
  67.  How to squeeze in exercise on your lunch break
  68.  Share information about products that were invented by nurses
  69.  Write a list of the funniest patient comments you have ever heard
  70.  Discuss the importance of de-stigmatizing mental health
  71.  Highlight a nurse(s) who volunteered after a natural disaster (such as the California fires)
  72.  Talk about different medical missions
  73.  New innovations in stethoscopes or other nurse products
  74.  What it is like to work as a nurse when you have small children at home
  75.  How nursing teaches me to have more gratitude
  76.  National Preparedness Week from a nurse perspective
  77.  Fun holiday gift ideas for nurses
  78.  The teach-back method for teaching patients about medications
  79.  How nurses can improve health literacy
  80.  Things that nurses can teach patients within their scope of practice.
  81.  Tips on how to have difficult conversations with patients and/or family members
  82.  10 helpful ways to save for maternity leave as a nurse
  83.  Why working on the holidays as a nurse is hard (& how it can also be fun)
  84.  Continuing education programs for nurses
  85.  9 ways my nurse peers inspire the heck out of me
  86.  Nurse leaders that I want to emulate and why
  87.  The pros of moving into nursing administration (or why you’ll never do it)
  88.  10 websites that will pay nurses to write for them
  89.  Why nurses need to be writing more
  90.  Nurse entrepreneurs
  91.  Reasons why nurses should be paid way more than they are
  92.  Dealing with difficult co-workers
  93.  Holistic pain management techniques that nurses can use in practice
  94.  Working with adult patients vs working with pediatric patients
  95.  Diabetes Education
  96.  Tips to prevent high blood pressure that I want my loved ones to know
  97.  How to study more efficiently as a nursing student or grad student
  98.  Why more nurses should consider getting an MSN or Doctorate Degree.
  99.  What to consider before committing to an advanced nursing degree
  100.  Nurse job outlook and career options
  101.  Why nursing really is the most trusted career on the planet


Recommended reading for new nurse bloggers:

Resources for new bloggers:

(You need to know by now – if your goal IS to monetize your blog you must invest in a few courses to help move you forward. Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.)

  • Nurse Blogging 101: Healthcare Media Academy –  If you are a nurse or other healthcare blogger, I highly recommend starting with this one.  Creators Brittany Wilson and Kati Kleber are both published, award-winning authors who are also considered the Godmothers in nurse blogging.  They are especially great because they go into more detail about patient privacy concerns and other considerations that healthcare bloggers need to be aware of.
  • Pinterest Ninja:  If you want to understand how Pinterest can grow blog traffic you need this Pinterest Ninja Course.  A blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands. I did the course when I was on maternity leave and I was able to increase my blog traffic from 0-1000/day in just over one month. Seriously, read some of her reviews. Her course is invaluable.

Are you an aspiring nurse blogger who needs a little direction?  Drop me a message and I can forward you some of my resources that helped get me started as a nurse blogger!

P.S.  HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE E-BOOK “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

Why Nurses Should Blog & 101 Great Nurse Blog Post Ideas To Write About!

5 Best Trauma Shears & Bandage Scissors For Nurses 2019

5 Best Trauma Shears & Bandage Scissors For Nurses 2019

(The material in this post about trauma shears and bandage scissors for nurses is not intended for the diagnosis, treatment or cure of any disease or condition.  There are affiliate links in this post.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

I am a registered nurse who has worked all over the hospital taking care of emergency room, ICU and telemetry patients. As a result, I have seen it all and then some.  And I still see new things that shock me everyday! That is why it is so important to be prepared with the right nurse supplies you need to be able to perform at your best.  And that includes having a quality pair of bandage scissors and/or trauma shears with you at all times.

I purchase a pair of white bandage scissors in nursing school and used them for my first few years as a neuroscience and stroke nurse.  They came in so handy while removing IV’s, changing dressings on wounds, and opening difficult packaging.

Eventually, I invested in a good pair of trauma shears about 5 years into my nursing career when I became an emergency room nurse.  Dull shears are not good in an emergency and I wanted a great, non-disposable pair that performed well, especially while treating trauma patients.

The Best Trauma Shears And Bandage Scissors For Nurses 2019

Best Trauma Shears and Bandage Scissors For Nurses In 2019

Trauma Shears vs. Bandage Scissors

Trauma shears are a type of scissors used by emergency medical personal such as ER nurses and first responders to quickly and safely cut clothing from injured people.

Trauma shear construction and durability enables them to cut through strong materials such as seat belts, leather, jeans and even thin metal.  In addition, the wide, blunt tip on the shears are designed to slide across skin, minimizing risk of injuring the patient while cutting clothing.   Trauma shears can also be used to cut bandages or open difficult packaging and come in handy during 12 hour shifts.

They usually consist of a handle with a metal blade, which is traditionally bent at about 150 degrees. This “lever arm” gives them an unusual appearance as compared to normal scissors.

Bandage scissors, otherwise known as bandage forcepts, are very similar to trauma shears in that they are used for cutting.  They are generally slightly less “hefty” then trauma shears, however they are still very durable and a good quality pair can be used for many years of service.

Bandage scissors also come with a blunt tip on the bottom blade, which helps in cutting bandages without gouging the skin.  The blunt tip design of the scissor prevents accidental injury while making bandage removal very easy,

Here is a list of the best trauma shears & bandage scissors for nurses in 2019:

#1.  Raptor Shears


Many nurses I work with in the emergency room have the Raptor Shears and we use them frequently in emergency situations.  You can hook it to a belt or secure it using the pocket clip.    Also, the Raptor Shears also have a 25 year limited warranty and will last all the way through an entire medical career or longer.  This is an amazing gift for new medical graduates!

These functional and handy shears are actually 6 tools rapped into one:

  • Medical shears
  • Strap cutter
  • Ring cutter
  • Ruler
  • Oxygen tank wrench
  • Carbide glass breaker

More about the Raptor Shears:

  • Ready for anything: The Raptor features the necessary tools for medical professionals to handle emergency situations, as mentioned above. 
  • More functionality: The Raptor is equipped with 6 tools, including folding medical shears, a strap cutter, a ring cutter, a ruler, an oxygen tank wrench, and a carbide glass breaker.
  • Simple and secure: The specially-designed sheath allows you to carry your Raptor open or closed so you’re always prepared. 
  • Pocket clip: No belt on your scrubs? The pocket clip ensures it’ll never leave your side. Alternatively, attach your Raptor with the integrated lanyard hole.
  • Comes with a 25 year warranty and made in the USA.

#2.  Leatherman Raptor with Personalized Engraving


This tool has all the same features as the regular Raptor Shears, but these can be engraved to make an extra special personalized gift for medical professionals.   Therefore, these make a fantastic gift for graduates, groomsmen or bridesmaids, and gifts for first responders, nurses, doctors and other health care professionals.

Here are a few features of the Leatherman Raptor Shears with Personalized engraving:

  • Free personalization for groomsman, graduation and gifts. 
  • Fantastic gift for any heath care professional or 1st responder.
  • Free engraving up to 20 cincluding spaces. Letters and numbers only.
  • Engraved items are not returnable.


#3.  XShear 7.5” Black Titanium Trauma Shears


The XShear titanium trauma shears are great for paramedic, EMT, Nurse or any other medical provider.  These are very heavy duty, perform well over time, and are non-disposable.

A few features of the XSHEAR trauma shears (per the manufacturer):

  • Twice as thick as most trauma scissors and sharpened to a razor sharp edge.
  • Black Titanium coating for sleek all-black appearance and superior durability.
  • Serrated lower blade for added grip of material and exceptional cutting performance.
  • Durable plastic with slip-resistant, soft touch inner rings.
  • Extra tough center bolt designed to not loosen over time.
  • Patented design features curved tip and edge that is gentle for cutting near skin.

#4.  Madison Supply Fluoride Coated Medical Scissors


I wanted to include a few less expensive options on this list.  These trauma shears are a more affordable option as they are not titanium strength and do not have as many features as titanium shears.  However, they are durable and will perform over time for basic and

practical purposes.

About this product:

  • 1-pack of black-handled, autoclaveable, EMT Shears.
  • Fluoride-coated non-stick surface.
  • 7.5 inch long trauma shears.
  • Sharp edge and milled serrations for cutting.
  • Durable,high-impact plastic handles, and stainless steel blades, premium quality, long-life medical scissors.

#5.  Fluoride Coated EMT Trauma Shears With Carabiner


What I really like about these trauma shears is that they have a carabiner that can easily be clipped to your waist ans be within reach at all times.  As a result, it makes it much easier to keep handy.

More about this product:

  • Cuts fast and safely with professional grade medical scissors.
  • Carabiner feature – the steel-reinforced carabiner can be easily clipped onto your waist and be within reach at all times.
  • Durable construction – surgical grade stainless steel
  • Available in black, blue, red and neon pink, and black.

Runs With Trauma Shears T-Shirt


I mean, come on.  This is a funny shirt if you actually do have to run with trauma shears!  (As many ER nurses and other first responders do).  This shirt comes in men’s and women’s sizes in 5 different colors.  When paired with a great set of trauma shears this combo would make such a great gift for a first responder, MD, nurse or new graduate!

Check of these articles for more great gift ideas!

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Why ER Nurses Are The Best

Why ER Nurses Are The Best

(This post may contain affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

As a resource nurse who has worked in many specialties and units all over the hospital setting, I have discovered that I am an ER nurse at heart.  Here are the reasons why I think being an ER nurse is the best.  

I love the camaraderie in the ER.

In between the traumas, code brains, septic patients, strokes, fast track and other walk in emergency room patients, ER nurses communicate frequently with each other.  It’s all about teamwork.  In the ER nurses often have their own sections, but there are also many “resource” nurses on the floor to assist with additional patient care. When a patient arrives with a more serious condition, there are always nurses who come in to help.

When it gets stressful in the ER, the nurses depend on each other to get the work done. Many patients come into the ER in urgent situations where the cause of injury or disease isn’t yet known.  Nurses have to work together to triage and effectively treat patients, often times without all the facts.   Doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists and other medical professionals cohesively work together to give fast life-saving medical treatment.

On med surg floor units, nurses are assigned to the same patients for an entire day without much, if any, overlap with other nurses.  At times I have often felt lonely on med surg units because I miss the camaraderie of working together with other nurses.   

I start several IVs and do all my own blood work in the ER.

Before I became an ER nurse, my IV start skills were mediocre at best.  Now, my IV skills are so much better and I am able to get intravenous access in some of the most difficult veins. This is a result of having frequent opportunities to start IVs during each ER shift.

The very best IV nurses are the ones who are constantly challenged with patients who are difficult IV sticks.  To gain valuable IV start skills you want to put yourself in position to have as many opportunities to learn as possible.  The ER is a perfect place for that.  

It makes sense that ER nurses are great at starting IVs. In emergencies ER nurses need to be able to gain access fast for testing, various medications, pain and nausea relief, IV hydration and antibiotic therapy, among other things.  Many of the nurses I work with have been in the ER for a decade or longer and their IV skills are unbelievable. Several nurses are even trained to do ultrasound guided IV starts on patients with hard-to-stick veins.

Reasons Why ER Nursing Is The Best

I love caring for a varied patient population.

Every day is an adventure. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but it’s never boring in the ER. I have had patients ranging in age from 2 days to over 100 years old. Patients come to the ER with every type of illness, injury and trauma you can think of.  Our patient loads include, but is not limited to: various types of trauma patients, septic patients, elderly patients, organ transplanted patients, patients with cancer or autoimmune diseases, psych patients, small children and babies, and so much more. There is rarely a dull moment and always something new to learn.

I love the organized chaos in the ER.

It is never boring or tedious in the ER, or at least not for long!  The emergency room is a fine-tuned machine with each nurse component working semi-gracefully around one another. From the outside it might look like craziness, but the madness always has a method.

I often struggle with the tediousness of tasks when working on a med surg unit.  It is often extremely busy, but very task-based.  The to-do lists can get a little ridiculous.

I love the intellectual stimulation I get in the ER.  

I am a closet science geek. And I love the cerebral stimulation that I get as an emergency room nurse. I have had the opportunity to see more disease states, complex injuries and unusual diagnoses then I ever could have imagined even existed.

It would not be an exaggeration to say I learn ten new things everyday at work. To top it off, I am surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Many of my co-workers have the same drive for helping people I do. They motivate me to keep learning.

I maintain my sense of humor in the ER.

Sometimes things just get so odd that I can’t help but laugh. There are days when I see people come into the ER saying that they are dying, but end up having a diagnosis of constipation. Once I had a college student come in for a temperature of 99 degrees. I’m like, seriously? How do you even get through the day?

The emergency room is also a very emotional place. Patients never want to be there and usually don’t understand, for example, why they have to wait in the hallway an hour or even much longer until their test results are completed or the medical team decides on a plan for them. They get upset and tired of waiting.  Sadly, sometimes they take out their frustrations on the people working the hardest to get them the medical treatment they need: the nurses.

I  have had so many “I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried” experiences in the emergency room to last me a lifetime. But that’s one of of the reasons I like being in the ER versus other parts of the hospital. It can get weird, but I’m always learning. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to keep learning.

What specialty do you love?  If you could change and do one thing what would it be?  I love hearing from readers.  Please leave a comment!

Additional Recommended Reading:

Pros And Cons Of 12 Hour Shifts

Pros And Cons Of 12 Hour Shifts

Before you consider hospital nursing as a career you may want to weigh the pros and cons of 12 hour nursing shifts.  I wish someone had shared this information with me before I became a nurse so that I had a better idea of what to expect.  Especially as a working mother.

Nurse standing with her arms crossed

Pros of working 12 hour shifts:

More work flexibility

When you work 12 hour shifts you can get more creative with a work schedule.  That is so important to me as a working mom. I want to be available when my kids need me to be home from work.  In addition, I often feel that I get to experience what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom and have the ability to also work full-time (although I am a very tired mom these days).  

I try to make my schedule the same every week for consistency.  I usually work every Monday and Wednesday, and every other Sunday. However, if I need to be home on one of my usual work days then I can request to work a different day, or switch days with another nurse.  

In addition, working as a per diem nurse has given me even greater flexibility with my schedule.  I can work as little as one day a week or as many as 4 or 5 as long as the hospital has a need for nurses (although I choose never to work more than 2 or 3 max).  

More days off

Who doesn’t want to work less days in a week?  When you work 12 hour shifts as a full time nurse, you get to work three days a week instead of 5.  That also means that you have 4 days off every week instead of 2.  

On the flip side, keep in mind that a 12 hour shift makes for a really, really loooooong day.  Never underestimate the exhaustion that comes with working as a nurse for 12 hours a shift!  You will need those extra days of to recover.  

Less commuting to work (save time & gas!)

Working three days a week instead of a more traditional Monday through Friday schedule means that you spend significantly less time commuting to work. In addition, if some of those days fall on a weekend then you can miss traffic completely!  Personally, I don’t love working on the weekend because I prefer to be home with my family, however I do appreciate how fast I can get to and from work.  That is something to consider when you live in a high traffic city like Los Angeles. 

Congruence of care

When nurses work 12 hour shifts they only give report to oncoming nurses twice in a 24 hour period.  Working 8 hour shifts requires that nurses give report 3 times in 24 hours.  With a 12 hour shift, nurses do less hand off and are able to spend more time with the same patients.

Less caregiver change could potentially translate into a decrease in nurse error because you are handing over patients less frequently.  There is less chance for miscommunication. 

Congruence of care is more important on nurse units where patients stay for longer periods of time.  As a ER nurse we are used to having several new patients and handing care over to floor units more frequently so this may not be as much of a benefit if you work in ER.

Possibility of taking “mini vacations” without using vacation time

When you have the option to have several days off in between work days, it becomes possible to take mini vacations without putting in a vacation request.  In fact, I have taken up to a week off at a time to go to Mexico without using any vacation days.  

When you consolidate your hours into longer periods of time per day, then you can take more days off in a row.  For example, if I am putting my schedule in for a two week period, I can request a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday for the first week and a Thursday, Friday, Saturday for the second week.  That leaves me with 8 days off in between!

pros and cons of 12 hour nursing shifts

There are pros and cons to working 12 hour nursing shifts that you may want to consider.

Cons of working 12 hour shifts:

May put a nurse’s health at risk

It is no surprise that nurses work incredibility hard.  I come home at the end of a 12 hour nursing shift with an aching back and burning feet.  This is because I, like most nurses, often don’t have time to rest while at work.  When I do have a minute to sit down to chart, I’m lucky if I can find a chair.  I know a few older nurses who have been working bedside for 25 years and they literally have a permanent limp and can barely stand up straight.  

Many nurses work 12 hour shifts with minimal breaks. We are lifting and pulling patients, often spending the majority of our day on our feet, managing stressful and sometime critical situations while doing everything we can to hold our pee for hours on end!  Some days when I finally get a break to eat lunch and I am at my weakest, I find that our break room is stocked with donuts and cookies.  My exhaustion can be overwhelming and the temptation for a little pick me up is never higher than right at that moment.   

With all of our education, nurses should be good role models for health.  But unfortunately that is not always true.  We have created  a culture that sets many nurses up for unhealthy habits.  

More nurse burnout

A University of Pennsylvania study on hospital nurses found that the longer the shift, the higher the levels of burnout and patient dissatisfaction.  The researchers discovered that nurses working shifts that were ten hours or longer were up to two and a half times more likely than nurses working shorter shifts to experience burnout and job dissatisfaction.

One reason may be that longer shifts give nurses less time in a day to care for themselves.  I have found it challenging to do any self-care on days that I work 12 hour shifts because nearly every waking hour is spent caring for patients.  Furthermore, the study found that the nurse burnout associated with longer shifts increased the chances of the nurse wanting to leave the job.   

If you have kids, you won’t see them on the days you work

As a nurse and mom, one of the worst parts of working 12 hour shifts is that I don’t get to see my children at all on the days that I work.  They are still asleep when I leave for work at 6 o’clock in the morning and they are already in bed by the time I get home at 8:30 PM.  Even worse, when I work back-to-back shifts I may not see them at all for 24 to 36 hours at a time.  I could as easily have been out-of town as far as they are concerned.  Nursing is a good career for moms, but this still something you may want to consider.

In conclusion

Working a 12 hour nursing shift makes for a very long work day.  But that is the price I must pay for getting to spend more days at home. So, the benefits of the 12 hour shift far outweigh the cons for me.  Admittedly though, I really do focus on the benefits of working 12 hour shifts as much as I can. I must remind myself to stay positive.  There are some days I wonder how long I can physically keep up with the job before I permanently injure myself or completely burn out. 

Right now I remain passionate about helping others as a nurse and I am grateful to have work flexibility that allows me to spend more uninterrupted days off with my family than I would have with a standard 9 to 5 schedule. When I think about it in that way I realize I am lucky to get to have the best of both worlds.

P.S    Sign up below for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” at the bottom of this article!

Additional recommended reading:

My Podcast Debut On ‘Your Next Shift’

My Podcast Debut On ‘Your Next Shift’

Hello Mother Nurse Love friends!

I was recently interviewed on ‘Your Next Shift’, the most innovative internet show that helps nurses thrive in their careers.  I have been equal parts excited and nervous to finally get to listen to the episode.  And I am happy to say that it was a pretty great show.  What an amazing experience!  Collaborating with other nurse entrepreneurs is such a treat.

My podcast interview can be found herehttps://elizabethscala.com/episode170/

In the podcast, I discussed:

  • How continuing to learn can keep you from becoming stagnant;
  • What routine practices can help you stay grounded in chaotic times;
  • And why you should never let fear hold you back from what your want!

I’d love for you to listen in – and even better – let me know what you think by leaving a review on the show http://bit.ly/YNSiTunes.

 

Again, the link to listen in can be found here: https://elizabethscala.com/episode170/

Take care,Sarah