Kristin Haden, RN, is a Labor and Delivery nurse at Beebe Healthcare in Louis, Del. Of the 24 years she has been a nurse, she has spent 17 of them working the night shift. Read on to learn her perspective on some of the benefits of being on the night shift.
NN: Why did you decide to start working the night shift?
Kristin: I originally started because I didn’t want to miss anything with my family at home. I have three kids (a son and twin daughters), and when I worked the night shift I didn’t miss out on any time with them because they were sleeping while I was at the hospital. For me, this was beneficial in many ways. I didn’t have to take the kids to childcare and I got to be present with them. I may be tired, but I’m there!
NN: Can you give us an example of how this would work with your work schedule?
Kristin: So when my daughters were in high school, I would wake up in time to get to their field hockey game. Or have dinner with the kids before I left for work.
NN: Now that your kids are older, would you consider switching back to the day shift?
Kristin: No, honestly – I love the night shift. The benefits totally outweigh any negatives, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I work 12 hour shifts, three days a week, and so I love having time off each week, flexibility to be available in the day time and most of all, the mentality of the nursing team at night. My team’s sense of humor can get us through anything!
NN: Can you share more about the mentality of your team?
Kristin: I work in Labor and Delivery. And babies can decide to come no matter what time it is! It’s a Level 1 nursery, so we work with well babies, but we also work to stabilize and transfer babies that need more intensive care. Since we’re a smaller hospital, our night shift team is very close and works very collaboratively. During the night, a lot of ancillary staff, like administration, social workers, counselors, dieticians, do not work. Additionally, we do not have in-house physicians, so our nursing skill levels have to be extremely high. The decreased resources and personnel means we have to have a lot of autonomy on the floor – and a lot of responsibility to make decisions quickly for our patient’s care.
NN: Why did you decide to become a Labor and Delivery nurse?
Kristin: I started out as a med-surg nurse, a path I recommend to all nurses beginning their careers. It laid a great foundation for me in developing nursing skills and confidence. I decided to become a Labor and Delivery nurse after I gave birth to my son. I had an outstanding experience with the nurse team, and wanted to be able to help new moms like they helped me.
NN: How do you deal with the “nocturnal” schedule?
Kristin: You have to force yourself to sleep! The older I get, the more I realize I need that “reset” time to sleep and relax on my days and time off so that I can work my shift. It’s tempting, when you work the nightshift, to go home and run errands, head to the bank, etc., because it is day time and most of the world is working. Additionally, at Beebe Healthcare, there will sometimes be mandatory staff meetings or educational opportunities that happen during the day. A noon meeting is like a midnight meeting when you are working the night shift, which is difficult. I think the key is establishing healthy habits and being disciplined about putting yourself on a sleep schedule.
NN: Do you have any advice for new nurses, just starting out in their career?
Kristin: I’d recommend the night shift! I think it can be more comfortable and less intimidating to train to be a nurse on the night shift. As I mentioned, the teamwork and “night shift” camaraderie creates a wonderful work environment. And I think that it’s a great place to develop critical thinking and prioritization.
NN: Any last thoughts about working on the night shift as a Labor and Delivery nurse?
Kristin: Night shift in Labor and Delivery is not quiet time. The newborns are awake – keeping us awake! I love my team, and I love my job. I would strongly encourage nurses to consider the night shift if they are looking for a way to practice nursing with increased flexibility.