How to Survive Healthcare Shift Work
Health Jobs Nationwide, a nursing management jobs recruitment service offering registered nurse and physician jobs among others, have proven to be a good source of information on the current healthcare jobs market and what new recruits and candidates are expecting from their working life in healthcare. They say that there are many misconceptions about working in healthcare, but one thing that new candidates are certainly not ignorant about is the amount of physically and mentally demanding work that is involved.
One of the things that make healthcare work particularly taxing is the shift patterns. People don’t stop getting sick at night, and nightshifts are something that every healthcare worker will need to do regularly. It’s well known that nightshifts are not good for our health. While the circadian rhythm can certainly be adapted to being awake at night, we are creatures of the daytime, and all health evidence points towards an optimally healthy life as involving rising in the morning and going to bed at night. This is a luxury not afforded to healthcare workers, and this is the commitment we all make.
The Reality of Shift Work
Nevertheless, it isn’t exactly night shifts that can impact the health of healthcare workers – it’s changing shifts. Shift work is how the job is organized – you will be working during the day sometimes, and at night other times. This might be staggered in blocks, but you still cannot expect a normal waking-sleeping experience when working in healthcare.
Clinical rotations involve regular disruptions to even this schedule too. For example, you might be on a day shift block, but be called in suddenly during the night or have to pick up some extra hours here or be obliged to stay on later there. There is no getting away from it. It can be chaotic, and if you want to work in healthcare, you will need to learn how to deal with it.
Tips for Ameliorating the Impact of Shift Work
A chaotic working schedule will never be optimal, and therefore the only way to deal with this type of problem is to ameliorate – or lessen – the impact it has on your life and health. Luckily, this is certainly nothing new, and many healthcare professionals have gone before and have managed to work out some sort of coping strategy. There are then many tips one can defer to. Here are some of them:
Understand That It Isn’t “You”
A disrupted circadian rhythm effects mood. This means you can become moody, irritable, and even depressed when you work irregular shifts. The first and most important tip then is to identify the cause of your disordered moods early on and never think that it is some problem with you.
Anchor Some Sleep
A full night’s sleep at the same time every night is off the cards. But this doesn’t mean you can’t find some sleeping hours that you can have every day and which fit around your schedule. Planning is required, but it is possible to sleep for some limited period at the same time every day.
Ease the Transition
It is near impossible to immediately switch from night shifts into day shifts and expect to instantly have no problems sleeping at a new time. On your first day on the new schedule, try to sleep just as you have been doing, but perhaps get up a bit earlier on day one, making yourself tired in order to sleep at the new time.
Shift work is never optimal for your health, but millions of healthcare workers make it through a whole career by doing what they can to at least lessen the effects.