Preparation: The key to a good work week!



Time at the pool, shopping at the mall, dates nights, lunch out with friends, long walks with my dog, time with family… Who doesn’t enjoy their days off!? One of the many reasons why I love being a nurse is the twelve hour shift. I loved having my four days off before I started nursing school, but twelve plus hours is a looooonnnggg time to be at work some days. Gearing up for a week of twelve hour shifts can leave you less than thrilled! Over the past 3.5 years I have learned the key to having a good work week: preparation!



Seriously, I can’t say this enough. It’s still something I struggle with whether I am working days or nights. Something about knowing I have to work just makes it harder to sleep! When you are working back to back twelves, you hardly have any time to sleep between shifts! Every time I stay up late or don’t sleep well, I feel it at work the next day. Start getting ready early, and aim to be in bed at a decent time. I shoot for 10:00-11:00. Earlier if possible. It doesn’t always happen, but I try! Even if you don’t go to sleep right away, being in bed is more restful than being up and moving around the house. You most likely won’t get eight hours of sleep between shifts, but we do the best we can! If I can get at least 6 hour of sleep, I usually can survive the day.

Have Everything Ready the Night Before

Having everything ready when you wake up in the morning will make things go much more smoothly! I lay out my scrubs and shoes, and make sure my bag is packed with badge, pens, scissors, penlight, stethoscope, and all my other work essentials. I pack my lunch and have it in the fridge so I can grab it on my way out the door. I have my coffee ready so all I have to do is press the “on” button when I am in my 0500 stooper. The last thing you want to be doing that early in the morning (or in a post night shift daze) is trying to make sure you have everything and pack a lunch!

Eat Healthy


This can be extremely hard, especially when the nurses’ break room seems to always have some type of goodies in it! I am not saying you can’t indulge, because I sure do! However, I find when I try to eat mostly healthy during my twelve hour shift things go better and I have more energy. An upset stomach or post carb food coma is not good during a long shift! Packing instead of buying my lunch saves time, money, and results in healthier eating! Talk about a win/win!



Water, water, water is key to keeping energy levels up and your body going! Your cells NEED water to function properly. When you become dehydrated, the first thing to be affected are your BRAIN cells! No matter what profession you are in, your brain cells are by far some of the most important cells you utilize in a twelve hour shift! They are not the ones that you want to have angry at you. Mental fatigue and raging headaches all can occur from dehydration. I know how busy a shift can be and feeling like you don’t have time to even take a drink of water. I worked a shift last week, and at 1pm (6 hours into my shift!) I realized I had not had a single drink of water or had a bite to eat since I got there. I had a headache and was beginning to feel fatigued! We have to take the time to drink water and take care of ourselves. I bring a liter water bottle with me and strive to drink at least one bottle during a shift, two is ideal. (Tip: Adding fruit and cucumbers makes the water even tastier!)

Put on a Happy Face


Yes, there are days we don’t want to be at work! We are tired, busy, or have something fun we are having to miss out on. However, being a Negative Nancy about it is not going to get us anywhere! One of the best ways to a good and positive day is to have a positive attitude! Even if we have to fake it at first, eventually our mind and mood will follow suit! Put on a smile, say hello to people as you walk to your unit, have a giant cup of coffee, and just smile! The shift is going to happen no matter what, you may as well try to find some good in it!