Anyone who has ever worked the night shift, especially in healthcare has undergone the various phases of the night shift. It is no secret that there are moments during the night where you physically feel like you are going to die. Here are the 7 phases I have personally experienced working the night shift in the ER.
- Denial.(5pm-8pm): I love my job. I really do, but when 5pm rolls around and I have to get ready for work, I hate every ounce of my job. Sleeping during the day has never worked for me so by the time 5pm rolls around I am suddenly extremely sleepy and have the urge to take a nap, something I should have done 7 hours ago….. It feels like I’m trudging through quicksand as I get ready for work, roll into my car, & clock in. The first hour I am usually a zombie, waiting for my coffee to kick in. This is also shift change which is ridiculously stressful. Often times I pray there is no trauma coming because the last thing I want to do is try to figure out a manual blood pressure on a screaming child….
- I got this! (8pm-11pm): Once the coffee kicks in and I get into the groove,
all the energy of the sun hits me. I am unstoppable. This is usually the busiest time at the ER so we are constantly on our feet, running from room to room, channeling our inner Grey’s and Yang’s. Time flies by when you are crazy busy and have lots of crying children.
- I don’t got this….(11pm-1am): After 11pm, people stop checking in, those
already in rooms are settled, those in the wait room have probably (usually not) accepted their 5 hour wait and enjoy the movie we have on constant repeat (this week it was Finding Nemo). This is when it hits me. The effect of my coffee has gone, my adrenaline has left me in a state of exhaustion, and the reality that I hadn’t slept since 7am the previous day kicks in.
- I will die from starvation, right now. (1am-3am): I’m usually hungry all night because when I’m sleepy, I’m hungry. However, whenever 1am rolls around, the hunger monster appears in my stomach and I feel like eating the entire cafeteria. It never helps when coworkers order pizza or someone gives us cake because we’re celebrating someone’s something. It also doesn’t help that we are on the same floor as the cafeteria which has started offering quesadillas……
- I am already dead. (3am-5am): At this point, I am in a food coma/real coma because I am one blink away from passing out into a deep sleep. The ER is usually absolutely silent at this moment. Usually we have 1 or 2 rooms with itty babies who haven’t pooped. Traumas are rare since this is a children’s ER and kids are usually asleep during this time (although you’d be surprised….) We are all usually kicking each other to stay awake or searching for something ridiculous on YouTube to make each other laugh. The Keurig works overtime and nothing makes sense.
- Life after death…. aka the clock stops ticking (5am-7am): Nothing is slower than the last 2 hours of a 12 hour night shift….. Time literally stops. 30 minutes surely must have passed! Just kidding, it was 45 seconds. Luckily around 6:30 day shift arrives and the last few minutes fly by.
- FREEDOM!: All of a sudden I always get a burst of energy. It’s time to go home! It’s time to shower! It’s time to go straight to bed! Just kidding, Netflix just added the new season of HTGAWM…. repeat.
Have any of you worked the night shift, whether in a healthcare setting or any other setting? Share your experiences below!