The ONE thing every nurse knows about a good shift

The perfect shift. Everyone wants it, but few have ever experienced it. I mean sure, we have gotten close to it many times, but I don’t think any of us have had the perfect shift.
What is the perfect shift? That shift that just fits perfectly. Here is a short list of things that need to happen during a ‘perfect’ shift:

• Clock in on time
• An assignment that has all the makings to be awesome
⁃ Not easy, but not so busy that you never sit down
⁃ A patient that is appreciative and compliant
⁃ No evidence of crazy anywhere surrounding the patient
⁃ Bodily fluids are functioning fairly normal and predictive
• You work with your ‘people’
⁃ This means at least one nurse BFF
⁃ Engaging and collaborative providers
⁃ Assistants who are on top of things
⁃ Other staff members are fun and hard working
• Nursing leadership is hands-on and receptive
⁃ This includes a charge nurse who pitches in
• You’re CHARTING is not only on point but gets done on-time or dare-I-say early
• You clock out on time


This next-to-last item is THE fulcrum of your perfect shift, hell, to EVERY shift… ever. Period. Let’s get serious here, think about it for a hot minute. Every day becomes infinitely worse when your charting is not up to date and SURELY makes for a crappy day when you realize your charting is not going to be done before shift change or report.

It downright sucks.

Charting is the ONE thing that makes or breaks your shift. Sure, sure, sure, we could talk ad nauseam about all the bazillion things that can make a shift ‘bad.’ Basically, everything in the list above is either not present, or is just the opposite. #AMIRITE

The thing about your shifts… is that a good shift flies by! While a bad shift sucks the life outta ya. I mean a shift gets infinitely more difficult because you have made up in your mind it’s a bad shift. I don’t know how many times I’ve worsened my day by drowning in my sorrows and harping on how ‘bad’ a shift I’m having.

[Tweet “Charting will never be done. It’s a fact.”]

It’s safe to say that I wasted A LOT of energy during the first five-ish years of my career making things worse for myself. My shifts always seemed to be bad for that one reason I mentioned earlier. That one item on the list that is the fulcrum of the perfect shift. If my charting wasn’t done, and not done on time… I would say to myself (and out loud), “I’m having such a horrible shift.” I felt so out of control. I would continuously victimize myself just because my charting took forever most days.
I’ll admit, in the early years, my charting was SO slowww. I mean super slow. A turtle and a snail moved faster than my charting. My efficiency was for crap. And I always used to beat myself up about it.

It was a problem… until it wasn’t a problem.

Until the moment I realized that my charting was always going to be tough, that no matter how hard I tried… the timeliness of my charting was mostly out of my control. I chose to care for my patients at the bedside instead of charting quite often (and still do). I developed the mindset of, “The charting will get done, eventually.”

It was quite a liberating moment.

All of a sudden, I had fewer and fewer ‘bad’ shifts. And I became a much happier nurse. It was mind-boggling how much better I felt, and how my stress almost disappeared.

I laugh about it now, but back then it was one of those moments when you say to yourself, “WTH! Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?”

Charting will never be done. It’s a fact.

Your charting will suck for a long time. It only gets better with time in grade. Experience is the ONLY way you get better and get more efficient. Be patient.
Accept it for what it is and move on. You will spend a lot of shifts staying after report to finish charting, welcome to nursing.

I promise you this lil’ secret is no secret at all. It’s something every nurse learns the hard way. It’s not only a skill we all have to develop, but it’s also a mindset we all have to embrace.



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