How to prepare for your nursing shift

How to prepare for your nursing shift

Whether it’s your first shift as a nurse or healthcare assistant, or whether you’ve been working on the wards for many years, there are ways to make your day (or night!) easier. As with so many aspects of the nursing role, the key to a good shift is all in the planning, so read our tips to help the hours go as smoothly as possible.

1. Before you go

The preparation starts before you leave home, with the basics such as ensuring your uniform is washed and ironed with plenty of time to spare. Make time for a healthy meal, such as poached eggs on wholemeal bread, which will release energy slowly over the course of your shift.

2. Pack your snacks

It can be hard to find the time to eat properly on a busy nurse’s shift, which is why taking the right food with you – as well as eating properly beforehand – is so important. Hospitals are full of tempting sweets, chocolates and biscuits, but you’re less likely to head for the vending machine if you’re armed with the right goodies! Make healthy sandwiches and take plenty of fruit and nuts, which are easy to eat on the go and won’t give the blood sugar spike associated with sweet treats.

3. Stock up on sleep

Important on any rota, this one’s essential when you’re on a night shift. Lie in during the morning and try to have an afternoon nap before you go, too. Invest in blackout blinds or curtains in your bedroom to combat daylight and leave your phone outside. Wearing ear plugs can help block out noise on the street.

4. Mind over matter

Get into the right mindset by scheduling some quiet time ahead of your shift. Practice mindfulness or breathing exercises, or set aside time for a yoga session. Another good way to get into the right frame of mind is to walk to work, or at least part of the way. Walking helps you feel energised and enthusiastic, as well as releasing endorphins that will make you happier to be at work, benefiting not only yourself, but your patients as well!

5. Take stock

Make sure you take all the practical items you need, such as pens and a notebook, to jot down patient requirements as you make your rounds. It’s always a good idea to arrive on shift early, in order to carry out an effective handover and make sure you have everything you need.

6. Plan your shifts in advance

According to the Royal College of Nurses, advance notice of shift patterns is key to nurses’ wellbeing. We all know about circadian rhythms – the internal body clock – and there’s also the concept of social rhythms, which revolve around shared mealtimes and social events. Working shifts can disrupt these rhythms greatly, which is why Richmond nurses can book shifts up to eight weeks in advance. We’re proud of being a nursing agency leader in wellbeing and of enabling our nurses to achieve a good work life balance.


If you found this article useful, you might also like to read our time management tips for nurses, as well as this guidance for shift workers from the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group. To join our team, sign up to Richmond Nursing Agency online or call 01554 756148.

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