Narcolepsy and the Quad

A couple strengthening each other's weaknesses through God's love and life's lessons.

Why nurses ONLY work 3 days a week

It’s been two years since my last post which has been a good thing in my mind. The past two years have been tame and boring hence the reason I haven’t posted. It’s only the stressful, I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out, give-me-a-hard-liquor-drink day that motivates me to write a post to release the monster inside of me. I’ve been mostly working 1-2 days a week while in graduate school. However, while out for summer break I’ve been picking up full time hours, just 3 days a week. My husband and I got into an argument about this, of which I won’t go into detail, but has inspired this post. Why do most nurses work only 3 days a week?

If you have ever thought nurses have it easy working three days a week, then you have never been a nurse. Imagine taking care of several human beings who at any minute could stop breathing, heart stop beating, throw a clot, have a stroke or pulmonary embolism. You are responsible for that life while piling on the many other duties that are put on nurses. You work 12.5 hours that can stretch to 13, 14, 15 hours depending on how crappy of a day it is and how behind your charting is. You pull and tug on 300+lbs patients every two hours to prevent pressure sores. At any point in the day you could be cleaning up urine, vomit, sputum, blood, stool and any and every combination of bodily fluids. You have patients and family who are angry because you don’t answer the call light every 10 minutes. They call your manager or administration because of your lack of promptness while you are caring for your most critical patient who you just intubated because they stopped breathing.  Your hospital administration has you take on extra patients so they are not sitting in the ER. And by the end of the day guilt has set in that you couldn’t take care of everyone the way you should because you have too many patients and not enough nurses. 

Some nurses can work overtime and some can even work seven days straight. But the majority of us end up severely burnt out. We work weekends, nights, holidays. We leave our families to take care of other families. I cry when family truly thank me for what I do because I rarely hear it and rarely feel like I am making a difference. Most days I feel like I’m just a body with a license for documentation. I’ve been hit at, kicked at, cursed at, yelled at, and even spit at. I worry about these confused patients falling out of bed. Not only because it would end up in a butt load of paperwork but because I care about them. I worry about critical patients. Then I come home and worry and pray for them. I’ve held the hand of dying patients, watched people take their last breath, and cried and grieved with families. I’ve had a dirty needle stick with worries of getting hep C or HIV. Some days I don’t get to eat or pee. And everyone is afraid to sign up to help and be that extra nurse that we desperately need because they pull those nurses to another floor. 

Love your nurses. Hug them and thank them for what they do. If you are married to one, hold them when they get home (after they wash the germs off).  Let them rest their bodies and process their emotions on days off. And have dinner waiting for them when they get home. 🙂

-the narcoleptic wife

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Categories: Narcolepsy, nurses, paralyzed, Quadriplegic, Rn

Tags: , , ,

151 replies

  1. Have not been on in over.
    Two years. Love you and all the best! You are always on our prayers!

  2. So well said and soo proud of u, jenesa and jessica and all of the other rns

  3. How true. Each and every nurse work until they drop, others get to shop until they drop.

  4. My last rehab was just a month ago. When I was
    Discharged I thanked my nurses aid she was so efficient and answered my call bell as quickly as she could I didn’t continue to hold the call button down as other patients did or hit repeatedly I knew I wasn’t her only patient. This also applied to my nurse when o thanked her she said thank u not many of my patients say that. I also made s comment to my discharge (head nurse ) about these ppl I also had s great male nurse ! I told her how great her staff was and called several by name. She sldo thanked me saying she heard all the compliants nit hardly ever the praised ones. More nursing staff need more understanding and cooperation. It doesn’t hurt the patient. My mama always told me I catch more flies with honey than vinegar. She was s smart lady who taught me well.
    Thank you s millions times over to the greatest class of hard working ppl:
    The Nursing Staff of theWorld

  5. Totally get it! Nurses and teachers, such similarities! I feel the same way when people say we “get the summer off”!

  6. Preach sister preach! You are so on point. My husband used to always make the same comment. Until he was hospitalized for 3 days. After that he apologized and stated that he had no idea how much nurses did. Many a night my dinner was ready when I woke up (night shift). Thank you

  7. I quit my nursing job after marrying a wonderful man and moving out of the area. I’m taking a sabatacle for a few months… And trying to chart a course other than nursing. Honestly, I don’t care if I ever go back to the career I worked so hard to achieve. It’s actually quite sad, I love nursing but I think it could be the end of me.

    • I burned out 13 years into my nursing career; ended up quitting and letting my registration lapse. 14 years later, circumstances led me to re-enter the nursing profession. I took a refresher and when they pinned my new “RN” pin on my chest, I never felt so proud. For those 13 years, I was not allowed to call myself a nurse, and to myself, I felt an impostor if I dared to say I was a nurse. I had quit, hadn’t I! Well, I guess the saying : “once a nurse always a nurse” is true, as I am happy I came back; it hasn’t been easy; at times I experienced burn out again. But this time I have chosen steps to look after myself and hopefully this time when I quit, it will be because it is my choice and not because of circumstances. You are a nurse and some day may want to get back to it.

  8. And to think their own company (allina) is trying to take away the benefits they have worked so hard to get. Shame on allina !!! These hospitals and clinics wouldn’t be here without the dedication of our nurses !!!

  9. Please remember to thank your LPNs & Patient Care Techs too. They also carry quite a load. (LPN x 40 years)

    • I’ve been an LPNC for 30 yrs. We do just as much in our small rural hospital as an RN except for the cardiac IV drugs , but we are all considered nurses and put in so much time and overtime whether we like it or not. It is nice to hear from family or even a patient that they are thankful for what we have done. Even though it may seem like just another day to us.

  10. WOW, what a great article that I must share!! I am always defending my daughter who is a nurse to people and when they tell me how great it is that she “only” has to work 3 days a week. Then I go off on my rant about how her hours are more like 14 to 15 hour shifts, 3 days a week. You gave me a lot more facts to go back at people with! Love to all the nurses out there busting your butts and making a difference in people’s lives. Thank you!!

  11. The five-day workweek may function perfectly well for manufacturing or retail, but healthcare is a 24/7 gig. So, say you work 8 hr shifts in MedSurg. That means 3 or 4 days in a row, then a day or 2 off, then 3 or 4 days in a row, then a day or 2 off… Weekends & holidays are a crapshoot, at best. Now, lather, rinse, and repeat. Feeling rested yet? Recharged? No? Try doing this for years on end, and that’s just a tastes of it.
    And this all-too-common belief system nurses have is another part of what’s killing the profession. Taking to heart every malady and every hurt that every patient and all their extended families relentlessly heap on us (and on our managers’ desks) is a Betty Crocker recipe for failure. It’s not our job to grieve for our expired patients. It’s not our job to worry how sick they really are. Oh, sure, we care, that’s why we’re in healthcare. But there simply has to be a line, a wall, if you will, protecting Self and Family from an evermore intrusive Career. And if that means a three-day workweek, well, that’s what it means.

    • recipe for failiure? its not our job to grieve for our expired patients? expired? its not our job to worry how sick they really are?

      i agree with the other stuff you said but these few lines are telling. compassion is a quality you’ll do well to learn. as for failiure and success….if you manage to feel empathy and compassion, lets just say thats success, and this whole “not by job i dont really give a shit attitude” ….that really doesnt bode well. no ones saying cry every time, but lets say, if you didnt really feel for at least one family whose just lost their loved one, at least one in say 2/3 months….then you’re the failiure

  12. I worked in a hospital for 28 years its a struggle to work 8hours a day with family and all believe me a. Nurse cannot work shifts 12 hours a day and do patients just there is just know way I have also been a patient on the other end this is a good deal for a nurse I know for a fact they like these hours but the patient get better care with 8hour shifts and of course there are a few days with emergency that they might have to WOR 10hours N(Nurses need to work 8 hours and give better care to the patient)but instead of a patient u are a customer now that is the way the system retired 28years of work and I made it find!!!

  13. So true! I am a school nurse now…haven’t worked in a hospital setting for over 13 years…but I clearly remember how stressful it was and how some days I didn’t think I even had the strength to GO to work. I remember crying before my shift MANY times, dreading it. Thank you for all you do!

  14. The article is amazingly accurate and delineates precisely the rigors, stresses, challenges and circumstances that nurses face on a shift to shift basis. As a nurse, I hold the highest honor caring for those are sick and/or injured. I greatly appreciate the sharing of this article and I salute the community of nurses nationwide and across the globe.

  15. This story was about first hand experience working 3 -12 hour shifts. It wasn’t about “Why nurses ONLY work 3 days a week” or why she has continued to work for an employer she feels is working her to much. There are multiple reasons nurses work 12 hour shifts. Some from a nurses point of view and others from the employer. Among reasons beneficial to nurses is hey will have four day weekends which can benefit family life or use that time for even more hours and money. Statistics show when a nurse group is on longer shifts absenteeism improves, morale is boosted and retention increases. From an employers view longer shifts mean easier scheduling and less chance of loosing critical information between shift changes if there are only 2 vs 3 shift changes. Who wouldn’t want to work 12 hour shifts with all this in your favor?

    • I’m a nurse, we rarely get a ‘4 day weekend’. My shift rota usually is ‘2 days on, 1 off, 1 on, 2 off, etc’. You tend not to get more than 2 days off in a row or if you have more one of them is considered a sleep day as you will be working a night shift.

    • Four day weekends???? I work every other weekend. I only get four days off together if I use vacation hours!

    • 3 shifts a week does not guarantee that they will be consecutive. Often shifts are spread over the week, including mandatory weekends . Even for overnight shifts, there is no guarantee of consecutive shifts leaving nurses to continously cycle their bodies between days and nights.

  16. Also don’t forget CCA. Pcw. Hsw..etc times change …we now carry the load as well its hard on us but make it work as a team ❤ spread the love we all have important rolls to play. JW CCA

  17. I have such deep appreciation for nurses and all they do. Having just had my 21st surgery in 2 years, I am well aware of how hard nurses work. In my blog, I even dedicated a post to thank nurses. http://www.inspirationhopekindness.com
    THANK YOU to all nurses!!

  18. Amen!!!! Our creator has blessed us with many angels called ” Nurse” I love you you my “Ojos Azul” Thankful for your service!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Personally, I don’t think nurses should be allowed to work over 8 hr shifts. Here is just 1 example. My boyfriend was recently in the hospital his nurse was finishing up a 12 hr shift. His BP was taken. BP 84/50. She brings medication to lower his BP. I tell her he doesn’t need medication. She says she has to give it anyway because it’s on his chart. STUPID RN!!!! She gives it anyway!

    • That’s just bad nursing judgement and inexcusable. Not necessarily due to shift length.

      Great read! ED RN here. Couldn’t have said it better “A body with a license for documentation.” I personally enjoy my three day 12-hour shifts. Gives me more time during the week to enjoy my hobbies.

      Code, RN

  20. I love my job, but constantly get…you only work part time then…..if only. If only there was more nurses, one day we might be fully staffed, one day…..but to be honest most of our patients do get better, and most do say thanks, and I always say it’s a pleasure and my job, but really I love the thanks, makes the 13 1/2 hour days seem much easier.

  21. We actually work more than 3 days a week…. But I think we get the point…. Loved the article, made me very emotional as a nurse and having experienced everyone of those things… Fantastic article, well written …. Thank u for sharing!!!!

  22. I work 5 8s. I work a different start time everyday. Come home usually ready to collaspe. Let me just say there is something to consistency. But this article sums up exhaustion. 8s 10s or 12s doesn’t matter. If you don’t come home ready to collaspe already, don’t let administration find out or you will be too! Thanks

  23. God Bless… I appreciate you💗
    I’ve switched to clinic nursing. I’d love to hear which masters degree program you chose.

    • Susan, I am actually going into psychiatric mental health.

      • Good luck! I must warn you though: you do not want a psych patient to thank you! Their illnesses are obviously mental but also manipulative! What may seem like bad nursing is really good treatment for them. Set boundaries, not only for your physical safety but also keep their requests within reason for your sanity! I am a retired psych nurse and as such I have been called everything but human at times. Yes, I have had patients try to hurt me & intimidate me. You will be just as exhausted after a psych shift as with a Med-surg shift! I, too, loved my job and at times it was very rewarding & if I was able I would still be working. I wish you luck and pray you have a great preceptor/mentor and teamwork is definitely the name of the game for safety!!
        What I wanted to add to this blog is since I recently retired in November, 2016, I am unable to get my internal clock working as it should! I blame the day/night/day shifts- the body wasn’t made to accommodate this! I can sleep all day (literally 24 hours) or I can stay up & try to accomplish things in the daytime when businesses are open!! It has been 2 months & I’m still struggling! I loved the 12 hour shifts until I got older & had trouble with the adjustment!! If this is narcolepsy, I intensely dislike it! I miss nursing but this sucks & I hope those of you still working will not have this problem when you retire!
        God bless you all & keep each other safe & as healthy as you can!!

  24. “De-ja-vu”. It could not have been said any better or more true-er. I have been a nurse for 46 years; worked in a combined ICU for most of my career. What motivated me was the fact that nursing is a Ministry. Sowning into the lives of human beings is exactly that Jesus did and commissioned us as people to care for one another. Caring extends beyond the medical field- in every encounter with humanity an opportunity to minister a caring attitude is foremost. If you find yourself in the nursing profession -go ahead illuminate where you are with the Light of compassion and caring who energizes your very being.

  25. Reblogged this on dukfrog and commented:
    I praise God for the nurses who care round the clock for patients… I pray for them. My daughter was a critical care TBI patient on the brink of death five years ago and today she is the critical care registered nurse caring for others… This post hit home.

  26. You forgot to mention the guilt and anxiety that you feel when your phone rings every day that you’re not at work, it’s the hospital, they’re desperate. You feel bad because you know what your coworkers are going through but your family hasn’t seen you during daylight hours since your last day off four days ago, and that makes you feel even worse.

  27. Greedy hospital management, please read this, understand the overload tgese RNs are going through. Hire a nirsing assistant for each of the RNs insyead of respitory worlers who virtually do not do any productive job and give tgese RNs a break. With that they can comcentrate on the medicines, patient and family emotions, paperworks and care plans and have a bit of rest.

  28. You worked hard to be able to do this job and i am sure you do it exceptionally well.. I was a student nurse but never finished(quit to get married) Have always wished that I had continued and got my diploma. It is one regrett that I carry with me through life. cherish your job & the fact that you are able to care for others and save lives. You are necessary and a Very Special Person. You are cherished by most people that have to be in a hospital. Thank You for your Services.

    • Laura – it is never too late to obtain that degree and become a nurse. I was 42 when I obtained my license; there were others who came after me in employment as new grads who were older than me! If you truly want and dream of being a nurse – come on board. Yes, it is hard work, but if you read the nurses’ responses, there aren’t very many who don’t love their work in spite of the short staff and other sacrifices made for the job!! Feel free to follow your dream!!

  29. Very well written blog!!! if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told well it’s only three days a week and five dollars for every argument I wouldn’t be leaving this comment because I would be rich after ten years doing this! First of all 3 nights a week is tough it can be light outside when you go in and it’s light out when you come out!! Good nurses are everywhere and regardless of what shift they work those only 3 shifts a week take more out of you than most people know!! So before you yell or get frustrated because your nurse was three minutes late with your PRN pain medicine think about what they might have been doing and be thankful ….and for those who say that’s what we get paid for and I have good insurance paying your salary sorry buddy but we don’t see that money like you think we do and real nurses are not in it for the money because there’s no price tag for a caring heart…

  30. Wow!!! My daughter is an ER nurse. So dedicated and works extremely hard. I can relate to the story of why nurses only work 3 days. Every bit of information I read is so true. I am so proud of my daughter. She gives each patient the best possible care she can. I hope that after reading the article more people will have the respect that all nurses deserve. Nurses are as human as us.

  31. My husband is a neonatologist, my son is a trauma surgeon, my daughter is an RN on a BMT floor, and I was a Respiratory Therapist…so I fully understand everything you said in your article…we were also on the flip side of it where out daughter died of hypo plastic L heart and our son battled leukemia and rare complications that led us to 5 hospitals in 4 states, leaving him with no pancreas and an islet cell transplant to his liver….more ICU stays on a vent the first 5 years. As a momma though, there were times I lost my temper, but it was significant that should not have happened!!( leaving Tylenol splattered all over him when it was pushed through his NG tube & didn’t clean him up, NOT reading the chart or his history and walking in the room expecting a momma who had already been 24/7 in the PICU for 3 months while your child was on life-support, recite everything!!, trying to make a child stand after being on life support for 3 months, I could hear his scream through the entire unit!)And I most certainly know and understand the life of someone in the medical field all too well! But, I firmly believe it starts and ends with the administrator who has cut the staff to the bare bones and as a result everyone suffers!! I have worked and seen it firsthand!! The insurance company makes itself a player also, when someone is on the verge of death and they can’t have a life-saving procedure because you need $80,000 up front, and they are telling Drs how to treat a patient or the length of stay, when the hell they made a mastectomy an out-patient procedure, or decided to stop payment because your son met his lifetime limit in just 9 short months, but freaking forgot to tell the parents for 2 months!! Yeah, that was a nightmare, who the hell wants to worry about insurance when your child is on life-support?? So, I get it and fully understand!! Thank you for posting!!

    • Lisa, I totally agree that it is administration that is the root cause! That’s the main reason I wrote this post. I am so tired of administration pulling from our cardiac unit, expecting us to be fine with 4 patients a piece in a critical care unit, only having us end up with an emergency at the end of the day and all the other patients get ignored.

  32. Im a nurse and i just work 3 days a week… true
    Some weeks less another weeks more dependent of the off duty…
    Rarely i do a bank shift because i cant cope with more hours… yes we work 3 days a week but that is 37.5
    At least 40.5 because nobady pays our break… plus the extra time that we spend doing something else… we work in 3 days what the most part of the people works in 5… and the most part of the times 3 or 4 shifts straight…
    Please… give me a break…
    My partner understand me and my life… and that is the best thing of the world
    Arriving after a very long long day and finding the house clean… the dinner in the table and after eating he tells me go to bed i wash the dishes tomorrow you will have another busy day…

    And that is the most amazing thing that he says to me

  33. Thanks. This is so true. Now if only administration, those that look only at the patient surveys, would believe it. At the hospital I work in the nurse has to go get your new admit if they are in the ER or ICU. Seems like we are getting more patients/families with a “you owe me I’m entitled attitude.

  34. I am a 41 year veteran nurse and love nursing just as much now as the day I started my career. I am still going strong and have seen so much change over the years to provide caregivers with a safe environment for both the patient and themselves. Nursing has never been more fast paced and stressful than it is now, but this will not change, only worsen as things get tighter (money and resources) so hang in there and know that each of us makes a difference and that we do this profession out of the love we have for the patient which is the focus for all that we do!

  35. I am Nurse. So I am Proud. TAG Your Family and Friends That Would LOVE This Nurse!!! https://teespring.com/stores/i-love-nurse-2

  36. I don’t know if you will see this since you had two yrs between posts, but I am a nurse as well, and I love this post! Sending fellow nurse hugs your way!

  37. I have never worked shift nursing and I sometimes get the comment, “You aren’t doing real nursing” and variations of the same. We are all nurses. We should definitely be kind to each other.

  38. Retired after 42 years and feeling blessed. I understand.

  39. I have been a nurse over 30 years. I cannot even begin to tell you the things I have had on me or the names I have been called. It is rare to get a thank you but I am not looking for one. I care for every patient I have taken care of. The one’s who complain well I have never walked a mile in their shoes. I have some regrets being overworked is one. I have given up my health for these patients I love and care for. My regret however is the birthdays of my children I was gone for. The games and sports I didn’t get to. The young Nurses who believe they are entitled to these things. The manager’s who let them go. That means I did my share and now doing their share.

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