Monday, February 14, 2011

Shift Work

In the ER, there is no such thing as 9 to 5.  It's open 24/7 which means it is staffed 24/7.  Since I started my medical experience in the ER in college, I quickly grew accustomed to strange hours and working weekends.  It wasn't too bad, and my college body easily handled flipping back and forth between days, nights and school.  In PA school, I got used to the 9 to 5 schedule again because with the exception of a few rotations I was up in the morning heading off to school or the office and home in time for dinner.  When I applied and interviewed for my current job I emphatically told the team that I could definitely handle the long hours and odd shift times, after all I had done it previously without any difficulty!

Now, in my mid-20's, I apparently don't have that college body that quickly adjusted to nights/days/whatever was thrown at me.  Pretty pathetic, no?  But I have discovered I need my 8 hours of beauty sleep each night and I'm just not getting it anymore.  Even on my days off I'm having a hard time sleeping in or getting to bed at a decent hour.  In my position there is no night or day shift.  We work morning, noon and night and alternate throughout a couple different shift times each 2 month schedule.  One week I could be working 7a-7p one day, noon-midnight the next and 11a-11p.  The next week I could be working several overnight shifts in a row.  We also work every day of the week.  Lately I've been working a decent amount of weekend shifts meaning Corey and I don't get to spend lots of quality time together on his days off (especially with all the house stuff lately!)

Not only does shift work mean no set hours, it means you don't necessarily go home at the end of the 12 hour shift.  Take, for example, last night.  I was scheduled to be off at 11pm, but just as I was getting ready to discharge a patient and hand my last patient off to another provider, my soon-to-be discharged patient threw a kink in our plans.  I ended up staying until almost 1230 in the morning trying to get things wrapped up enough to hand them off to another provider.  After a 13 1/2 hour shift I was exhausted on my drive home.

But its not all bad.  There's actually some really great stuff about it.  For instance, I only work 14 shifts in a 4 week period.  Meaning I get just as many days off as I work.  Not many people can say that.  Also it means I get random times off.  I get to do my grocery shopping on a Tuesday afternoon when hardly anyone else is there.  I can go to the mall and not have to deal with crazy crowds.  I can be at the house for the cable guy, the heater repair man and I get to spend lots of quality time with my pup.  I also can meet friends for their lunch break.  It also means I get to spend two wonderful days off with my husband today and tomorrow.  He took two random vacation days and we are celebrating Valentine's Day together.  Lucky me :o)

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