10 Reasons to Hate a Nurse’s Schedule


One of my dearest friends is a teacher. The other day, after a long day of work, she mentioned to me how great it must be to only work three days of week. Um, our schedule is kind of great and kind of not, all at the same time!

1. We usually work 12-hours shifts (at least). Most nurses are scheduled for a 12-hour shift, but 12-hour shifts usually turn into 14-hour shifts. And hopefully you live semi-close to where you work, but if not – you get the picture. We’re literally gone all. day. long.

2. We leave too early for work to eat breakfast at home. If you work the day shift, you have to be at work around 6:30 in the morning. Supposedly, if you clock in even one minute late, you’ll get docked 15 minutes pay. (That may be an urban legend, but I won’t test it to find out.) To make matters worse, by the time we get report and finish introducing ourselves and assessing our patients, the cafeteria is usually closed. I can’t understand why we’re not all skinny…

3. We get home too late to eat dinner. For day shifters, our shift ends a little after 7 pm. That’s too late to cook, and more than likely, your entire family has already had dinner by the time you get home. Even if it’s been hours since your last break, you’ll be too tired to eat (if someone even left you a plate). There’s only one good thing you can enjoy after 7 pm, and you can drink it with or without salt on the rim.

4. Two words: mandatory call. Just to be clear, you can never sign up for mandatory call on a day when it’s convenient for you. It’s like an unwritten rule of nature that you will never want to work this extra day.

5. Alternating weekends. This makes me want to throw up in my mouth. I don’t want to workany weekends. But no one cares that the rest of my family is at home, enjoying their day off together, because people still need to be taken care of on Saturday and Sunday. Cry me a river, I know, but I still hate working them.

6. Holidays. It may surprise non-healthcare workers, because it’s taken for granted, but YES, someone has to work Christmas Day, and Thanksgiving Day, and Labor Day, and every other holiday. When my daughter was little, I’d just lie and say Christmas Day was the day after…but now that she is counting down the days, that trick no longer flies.

7. No set break times. Oh, the cafeteria is open? Too bad, your patient needs an epidural. Oh, you didn’t get breakfast? Too bad, the physician is making rounds. You take a break when you can get one, and let’s just keep it real – it isn’t a real break when people are still popping their head in to ask you questions and you’re unable to finish your sandwich because your patient needs to be medicated.

8. No guarantees. You never really go to work knowing exactly what you’ll be doing. You might have to float to another unit. You may be working in a totally different area, with totally different coworkers. And there’s never any kind of guarantee on what kind of patient you might be taking care of. You pray that they’re nice, not too sick, and don’t use the call-light the second you walk out their door.

9. We can’t go home until the work is done. That sounds logical, right? In a perfect world, it might be. But when you’re trying to chart every single thing that you did, and every single thing that happened, and every single thing the provider said to your patient, it becomes a constant game of did-I-remember-everything. And this is with a normal patient. The shit really hits the fan when you have a change-of-shift emergency. Those are the days that you call your family and say “don’t wait up.”

10. Being put on call. Being told you’re not needed, so you don’t have to come to work doesn’t sound so bad. But unfortunately, that also means you can be called in at any given point during the day. You might secretly text your coworkers to get some 411 on what’s happening on the unit. You might try to calculate the likelihood of getting that anticipated phone call. But no matter how much you try to work it out in your head, you just never know what the next admission might bring and if you’ll have to drag yourself to work when you thought you were home-free.

Until my next delivery ❤

5 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Hate a Nurse’s Schedule

  • September 14, 2015 at 6:57 am

    I have always thought the nurse’s uniforms were really pretty. After reading through this I am so glad the idea of being a nurse never crossed my mind. I would not have managed to sail through any of the things you listed!
    Keep doing great all the same, minus all the setbacks I am sure it is all worth it in the end. :)

  • September 14, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve nothing but praise for most of the nurses I’ve encountered when I’ve been at hospital ill myself, or being there for a loved one… they took very good care of my loved ones and I, and supported through some anxious times … and yeah those long shifts that turn into longer shifts really suck !



  • January 30, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Yep, and that’s day shift! Try it at night! What’s a cafeteria? I think they forget to tell you in nursing school that you’ll be working holidays, weekends, floating and the dreaded mandatory call schedule. Oh, and if you thought you had enough PDO’s to go somewhere, surprise, you’re on call.


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