Thursday, October 18, 2012

Not enough hours in the day

Remember the nurse who asked me to write a recommendation for her for another job?

She still works at the hospital, at night.  Full-time.

I asked about the other job.

"Oh, I got it!" she squealed.

"So why are you still here?" I asked.  "How are you still here?"

"It's just a day job, I thought you knew that!" she answered.

"So you work there after you finish the night shift here?" I ventured, hoping this woman was not living, functioning as a nurse, on a mere four hours of sleep each evening.

"Sure I do!" she quipped again.  I finish here by 7:30, but I don't have to be at the next job until 8:30.  They finish at 3:30, so I have time to pick up my children.  It's great."

"When do you sleep?" I asked.

"After the kids are in bed, about 9 or 10."  She looked content with that answer.

"But don't you have to get ready to come back to work for the night shift at that time?"  This was not adding up.

"Yes.  Then I come here."  She seemed to be done with the discussion.

On the weekends, I noticed that she works the day shift after the night shift, a total of 16 hours Saturday and Sunday.  She must work about 100 hours a week.  That is too much.  She probably falls asleep at work.  As a former night shift nurse, I hate to say that she sleeps on the job overnight, but I don't see any other explanation for her consciousness.  She is not a go-getter.  She makes many sloppy mistakes, indicative of fatigue or mental inability, likely both in her case.  Unlike my work at the nursing home, night shift at this hospital does not give out medications.  They check the meds for the day and perform the 24 hour chart check.  That's it.  This particular nurse is known for missing med omissions and transcription errors, as if she doesn't check at all.  She probably doesn't check.

So I helped her get an additional job, not a different job.


  1. Hi, I just found your blog! I love what I'm reading so far! Oh, I'm a fellow nurse btw.

    The kind of situation you described is (unfortunately) fairly common in my country. Since nurses earn so little, they often work 2 jobs.
    I've seen those same nurses do evening shifts at the hospital and sleep there as much as they can while their co-workers pick up the slack and double-check to make sure they didn't make any mistakes.

    I totally agree with you. It's impossible to work well and have a clear head doing both jobs. We're nurses, not magical beings who require no sleep.

    Unless I was deep in debt, I'd never considering doing this. I'm super scared of making any mistakes.

  2. Thanks, CC!
    Glad you enjoy the blog.
    My geographical area is one of the best paid areas of the United States for nurses. Unfortunately a lot of nurses go for double and work two full-time jobs. Although these are tough economic times, I can't imagine how the second salary is worth it. You get slammed with taxes, have no personal life, and take years off your life because of the sleep deprivation.