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Night Shift Nurses: How To Survive and Enjoy Your Work

If you’re a nurse, you know that emergency room shifts can be tough, but there are ways to survive them and even thrive! 

This post will explore tips for making it through an ER shift, including the importance of having a good support team, staying calm under pressure, and keeping a sense of humor. We’ll also look at the amazing power of positivity and how it can help you get through a tough night shift. 

Finally, we’ll discuss the importance of self-care and how you can take better care of and prioritize yourself during a busy night.

What Kind Of Nurses Work Night Shifts?

Before we get into the tools you need to survive a night shift, let’s look at the types of nurses who work these shifts. Typically, these are people who enjoy working with others and find themselves easily able to handle the chaotic nature of an ER. 

Many beginner nurses start working day shifts or even night shifts to get some extra experience on their resumes. However, many hospitals will quickly move new nurses over to nights once they feel that they have gained enough experience.

Nurse Qualifications

All nurses in the US need to get some qualifications under their belt before they can start working. The requirements vary between states, but some of the basic qualifications include:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Successful completion of an approved nursing program
  • The passing of a national exam and a background check
  • The passing of a drug test. 

Most nurses will need to complete their basic licensure, but some nurses may want to do some higher qualifications. For example, the Rockhurst University dual FNP AGACNP programs online are great programs for nurses who want to explore their potential and specialize in a high-demand area of nursing. Rockhurst University

Preparing Yourself For Night Shifts

If you are considering becoming a nurse in the US, you should consider several things before accepting a night shift position. 

First, ensure you have the skills to work in an emergency room. This is because working nights can be very stressful, so taking a night shift won’t be very healthy for you if you’re not prepared for it.

Second, if you’re interested in a hospital track position, then it’s best to find out what kind of experience they require before accepting the night shift. Check with your local nurse’s union to see what they recommend and if any specific training is required. 

In addition, check out the hospital’s ethics policy which should tell you whether working nights is permitted at all or not.

Staying Calm Under Pressure

Staying calm under pressure is a nurse’s secret weapon when working in an emergency room. The reason for this is that nurses are often able to function well under pressure. They’re often calm and collected and able to focus on the task you are doing without getting distracted from a lot of other things going on around them. 

It is also important to remember that it’s not necessary to be cool and calm when working in the emergency room. In fact, nurses should never act as if they don’t care about the patients –this can cause problems in the ER. 

Instead, nurses should remain empathetic to support their patients’ families while they are grieving over the loss of a loved one.

A great way to stay calm under pressure is to have a support system. Often, nurses will find themselves surrounded by friendly people who can handle the stress of an ER busy night. There are also many other resources available to get the help and support you need, including:

Your hospital’s chaplain or pastor can be extremely helpful in helping sick people during a time of crisis. A good hospital will often have a chaplain who can provide emotional support and spiritual counsel. Nursing staff can also seek out appropriate counseling or therapy services at the hospital’s expense.

Your Support Team Is Vital

As a nurse, one of the most important things you can do to survive a night shift is to have a good support team. This means having a great team of people who you can rely on to help you with your work. 

A good support team can help you stay calm under pressure and keep a sense of humor. They will also be able to help you take care of yourself during the night shift.

Protecting Your Mental Health 

Working a night shift can be very challenging for your mental health. Many studies have been done on the topic, and a large number of nurses experience mental health problems while working nights, with rates of anxiety and depression higher than in nurses who usually work during day shifts.

It’s important to know that depending on the severity of these problems, they can affect your work performance and ability to care for patients. It’s also important to know that you can ask for help if required.

Know your personal limits and what can be achieved if it were a day shift. Once you do, keep track of how much sleep you get and try to maintain this consistently. Keep in mind that no perfect night or day shift fits all shifts, so giving your body a chance to acclimate itself will help you get used to the change.

Keeping A Sense Of Positivity

Look at the positive things that happened thought-out your shift, even if they were only small things. Studies have shown that people are more likely to be happy when they think positively.

It can be easy to let the negative aspects of the job get to you, but it’s important to remember that there are also many positive aspects to being a nurse. Staying positive will help you cope with the job’s stress and make you a better nurse.

Positivity is good for a number of very important reasons, including: 

  • It will help you cope with stress – If you’re feeling stressed, it’s important to try and find ways to relax and de-stress. One way to do this is by focusing on the positive aspects of your job. This can help you to forget about the stressful parts of your job and will help you to feel more relaxed.
  • It will make you a better nurse – If you’re able to stay positive, it’ll show in your work. Patients can sense if they’re unhappy or if something is bothering them, which can affect their moods and recovery. Staying positive will help put patients at ease and will make them more likely to recover quickly.
  • It will improve your own health – Stress can take a toll on your health, both mental and physical. 

By staying positive, you’ll be less likely to experience stress-related health problems such as anxiety or depression. Also, staying positive has been linked to better physical health, including a stronger immune system and lower blood pressure.

The Benefits of Staying Positive

Many benefits come from staying positive during a night shift. As mentioned above, some benefits include improved coping with stress, being a better nurse, and improving physical health. 

Additionally, studies have shown that people who maintain a positive outlook tend to live longer and happier lives overall. So not only will staying positive benefit you during your shift, but it could also have long-term effects on your life!

Staying Positive: The Techniques

So now that we know why it’s important to stay positive during a night shift let’s talk about how we can do it. Many different techniques can be used, but some common ones include the following:

Focusing On The Good 

When something negative happens, try to focus on the good that comes from it. 

For example, if a patient passes away, instead of dwelling on the loss, focus on the fact that they were able to spend their final hours or minutes at least surrounded by loved ones or at least people trying their best to make them comfortable. 

Another example is making mistakes on shift; instead of beating yourself up over it, learn from it so that you don’t make the same mistake again. Something good can always come out of every situation, but it might be obscure initially.

Finding Humor In Difficult Situations

Laughter is the best medicine! 

When things are getting tough, try to find humor in the situation. This doesn’t mean making light of someone’s death or pain but simply finding moments of levity where appropriate. 

For example, if someone passes gas while getting an MRI, everyone in the room –patients included– might crack up laughing! These moments can help diffuse tense situations and remind everyone that we’re all human beings going through difficult times together.

Writing In A Journal

Journaling can be a great way to stay positive. It gives you a chance to vent your frustrations and get them out of your system while also helping you to maintain a sense of perspective. 

The trick is to focus on the good things instead of being critical of yourself. This will help you feel better about the situation and hopefully encourage you to move forward with a new attitude.

Connecting With Others

When you feel alone or isolated, it’s easy for your mind to dwell on negative thoughts. During a night shift, take some time to connect with other nurses and staff members. Talk about your day so far, or ask them about theirs. 

Share stories, jokes, or anything to take your mind off work for a few minutes. These brief interactions can go a long way in helping you feel connected and supported during your shift.

These are just a few techniques that can be used to stay positive during a night shift. The most important thing is finding what works for you and using those techniques when needed.

Practicing Self-Care

Taking care of yourself physically and mentally during a night shift is important. When we take care of ourselves, it’s easier to stay positive and cope with the challenges of the job.

Self-care is vital for nurses, especially those working the night shift. Without proper self-care, nurses can quickly become overwhelmed and exhausted, leading to errors and burnout. Self-care allows nurses to stay focused and alert, providing better patient care.

There are many different aspects of self-care, but some of the most important ones for night shift nurses include getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and staying hydrated.

Getting enough sleep is crucial for all nurses, but it can be especially difficult for those working the night shift. 

Try to aim for at least 7-8 hours of good solid sleep before a night shift and take a nap during your lunch break if possible. If you can’t get a full 7-8 hours, even a short nap can help you feel more rested and alert.

Eating healthy meals is also important for night shift nurses. It can be tempting to skip meals or eat unhealthy junk food when tired, but this will usually make you feel worse in the long run. 

Try to eat foods high in protein and full of complex carbs to help you stay energized throughout your shift, and don’t forget the most important part: drink plenty of water! Staying hydrated will help you avoid fatigue and headaches.

The Benefits of Self Care

There are many benefits of practicing self-care as a night shift nurse. Taking care of yourself can provide better patient care because you’re more alert and focused. 

You’re also less likely to make mistakes when you’re well-rested and have eaten regular meals throughout the day. Additionally, practicing self-care can help reduce stress levels and prevent burnout.


The best way to survive an emergency room shift as a nurse is to have a good support team, stay calm under pressure, keep a sense of humor, and take care of yourself. It’s also important to stay positive during the night shift, as it can be very challenging. 

Staying positive has many benefits, including reducing stress and improving patient care. Finally, self-care is essential during a night shift. Taking care of yourself will help you feel better and be more effective at your job.

Mehedi Hasan

Mehedi Hasan is an enthusiastic health blogger and the founder member of WOMS. He likes to share his thoughts to make people inspired about their fitness. He is an experienced writer and author on highly authoritative health blogs.

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