If you’re like me and a gazillion other nurses, you have probably spent a fair amount of time working shift work.
This is largely because we work in a profession that never sleeps – hospitals don’t shut up shop for public holidays, Easter Sunday or St Patrick’s day. Most hospitals have some requirement also that you work all rotating shifts in your area.
Shift work has been shown to really take a toll on our bodies, affecting our social lives, emotional states, physical energy levels and there are even claims that we are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.
Now that penalty rates are under review in Australia, it’s time to explore options for working as a nurse without trying to survive back-to-back shifts with only a few hours sleep.
*Please be forewarned – there is no “magical solution” for nurses, as we have chosen a profession which predominantly involves people contact. This means we can’t all suddenly work from home or work flexi-hours, like a web designer might be able to negotiate. There are however some viable options that are quite achievable:
Nursing jobs that don’t require Shift Work:
- Day Hours Only
Perhaps the most obvious way of ditching shift work is to find a nursing job with a company that doesn’t stay open through the night or on weekends.
- GP surgery
- Endoscopy or Day Surgery unit
- Outpatient’s clinic
- School Nurse
- Immunisation Nurse, Dermatology or Cosmetic Clinic
- Community nursing is also an option, and may require some weekend work but certainly not night shift
- Specialist Roles
These are jobs within the hospital that allow you to work “normal hours”, and there are still plenty of options around. Some examples:
- Educator Roles (eg. respiratory educator, wound care nurse, diabetes consult etc)
- Clinical Coach Positions (these are becoming more prevalent in each department and normally are senior, experienced nurses who assist with clinical support where necessary)
- ACLS or Life Support Trainers
- Radiology Nurses
- Trend Upwards
This just refers to a swing to the darkside so to speak – Management! You can work as a Nurse Unit Manager or some other clipboard-carrying meetings person, working in a role such as logistics and flow, bed management, clinical governance, or project work. Granted, these opportunities usually become available “in-house”, but if you feel you would do well in these roles, you will likely need some further study & the only thing stopping you is making the decision to go for it!
- Injection / Infusion Services
These can be harder to find but are more common in capital cities. If you have a few years under your belt & are particularly good at cannulation, a search for “infusion nurse” will reveal jobs for home (and in-hospital) infusion services for a range of chronic diseases, for example administering Oncology Medications (for both paediatrics and adults), Biologic Infusions for Rheumatoid sufferers, Osteoporosis Meds, and there are also “hospital in the home” type-roles where you administer IV antibiotics or other injectables (may need to be competent accessing port-a-caths and PICC lines).
- Insurance / Phone Support
Insurance companies rely on nurses to carry out paramedical assessments and collect bloods, check patient’s medical histories, calculate BMI etc. These jobs are a little harder to find but again are more prevalent in capital cities, and do pop up from time to time on job sites. Phone support roles such as 13-Health and Nurse-On-Call also are staffed by RN’s to provide treatment advice in each state, and companies like Medibank Private also use RN’s for phone triage roles. While some of these telephone services are 24/7 roles, you can usually negotiate working hours etc so that your life is not messed about like it is working shift work at a hospital!
I know that in some countries there are other nursing roles such as being an Expert Witness Nurse or Legal Nurse Consultant, but I’m not aware of these roles being so prevalent in Australia. Any others that I’ve missed in the list above?