Travel nursing is a fantastic way to explore various opportunities. This profession is selfless yet rewarding, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. One thing that can be difficult is the long hours, and a 12-hour shift isn’t as uncommon as you might have hoped. If you’ve never worked a 12-hour shift before, the first one can be a little nerve-racking. Fortunately, there are a few ways to prepare yourself so that you can be on your A-game.
1. Get Some Serious Sleep
Whether during the day or night, your extended shift will be challenging, so you can’t expect to power through it with little to no sleep. Getting enough rest before your shift will give you a clear, sharp mind to care for your patients. The ideal amount of sleep is 7-9 hours, so you’ll have all the energy you need. To prevent any trouble, you should avoid caffeine, limit your blue light intake, and invest in blackout curtains if you need to sleep during the day. A power nap right before your shift can help keep you up and moving for the duration of your shift as well.
2. Dress Comfortably
The last thing you want to be is uncomfortable for your long shift. Most facilities may require a specific work uniform, but that shouldn’t stop you from dressing comfortably. You will constantly be on the move, and any added discomfort can cause fatigue and even some potential injuries down the line.
Supportive and well-cushioned shoes are a must as hard hospital floors can be unforgiving on your feet and joints. Compression socks can also help you stay comfortable by improving circulation, minimizing inflammation and muscle pain, and reducing the risk of developing varicose veins.
3. Keep Your Energy Up
If there is a lot of action on the floor, you won’t get to take as many breaks as you would like. Packing a healthy lunch and keeping snacks readily available will help you stay moving and energized throughout your shift. Try to avoid foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, as they will leave you feeling tired, cranky, and hungry for more. Snacks such as nuts, cheese sticks, yogurt, dark chocolate, protein bars, some fruits, and shakes are all great ways to keep you up and moving.
Just like eating healthy snacks, staying hydrated is important too. Water is the best drink for the job. By staying hydrated, you can keep your appetite in check, avoid dehydration headaches, and flush your system of any toxins. Even if you aren’t thirsty, be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to stay feeling great. If you need a boost of energy, grab a cup of coffee or tea. Don’t use too much sugar as that can cause an energy crash—the opposite of what you want.
5. Stay Positive
Even though long shifts are daunting, don’t forget to stay positive. Once negative thoughts creep in, you can quickly find yourself losing your motivation and energy to push through. Instead, focus on all of the great work you’re doing, the people you’re helping, and the other perks that come with working long shifts. You’ll have entire days free to relax and explore the area you’re currently located. Use that as some motivation to help keep you going, and your shift will be over before you know it.
As a travel nurse, you strive to give your patients the best care possible, but you need to take care of yourself. Working long hours can be a challenge, but they are not impossible to do. By following the tips above, you’ll be thriving on the floor in no time!