Surviving Long Nursing Shifts


Being a nurse is no easy task. It requires a lot of time, energy, and patience. It also requires stamina, due to those 12-hour shifts. Working 12-hour shifts can take a toll on you if you don’t properly prepare yourself. The last thing you want is to burn yourself out a few years into your career. Be sure you take care of yourself. Below are some ways of surviving long nursing shifts.

Preparing for Surviving Long Nursing Shifts

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential for anyone, but especially for a nurse. Working long hours, running back and forth from patient to patient can definitely wear anyone out. One way to stay hydrated is by getting yourself into a routine. Fill up your water bottle first thing in the morning, again at lunch and at least one more time before the end of your shift.

Food Equals Energy

Working 12 hours is hard for anyone and it will require you to have enough energy. You need to feed your body. If stopping long enough to sit, relax and consume a meal is not going to happen, be sure you snack several times throughout the day. Keeping your sugar levels even is the best way to keep you at your best.


One way to save yourself some time during your workweek is to reuse the containers you put your lunch in. The easiest way to do that is to put your whole lunchbox into your refrigerator. You won’t need to wash the containers until the end of the week.

Plan Ahead

Another way to save time is to plan your meals for the entire week. Buy your groceries for the week and cook enough for 5-6 lunches and/or dinners. It will save you money and help you eat healthier. If you don’t plan ahead you will buy something quick and easy at work. That will cost you money and energy. We all know that when we are in a rush we tend to eat something that is not good for us. Food that is not good for us also doesn’t give us the proper energy.

Create a Routine

People in the hospital are usually in pain and that can sometimes make them frustrated and possibly angry. One of the best ways for you to make your shift manageable and to make your patients’ lives easier is to create a routine. By creating a routine they know what to expect which always makes people more relaxed, less angry.

Having more relaxed patients makes for a much easier shift for you. That routine can include making the rounds every hour so your patients know you are there. That routine builds a relationship with them, which builds trust. When a patient trusts you they will be less stressed, which can only help their recovery.   

Working 4 or more 12-hour shifts can be very taxing on a person and the only way to combat the stresses are to create routines for yourself. Surviving long nursing shifts can be done in a way that allows you to work as a nurse for many years to come.

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