How To Start Your Shift Right

start shift

It’s Nurse Gina’s first day of work next week. She had long dreamed of this moment to come. She has worked really hard for this, enduring long nights spent studying, surviving mind boggling exams and overcoming several difficult challenges in nursing school. Finally, all her hard work has paid off. Finally, she is now a Registered Nurse and is about to start working at one of her dream hospitals. But wait, how will she do this?

As a newbie nurse, there are a lot of questions and worries flooding her mind. Is working as a registered nurse very different from going on duty as a student nurse? How will she be able to survive her first day of hospital duty? More importantly, how does she start everything properly? Do others who have been a nurse longer than her also experience this type of dilemma? Below are some tips on how one can start the shift right, newbie nurse or not.



Do some stretching first before entering the battlefield which is the clinical area. You can also try walking, if you like, or if you have enough time, you might want to squeeze in some 10-minute exercise (core exercise, cardio or even yoga). Physical activities get the blood flowing and trigger the release of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that can uplift your mood and make you feel good. It may even make you feel accomplished and motivated before your shift has even started.


Get hydrated

Get your hands on some H20. Dehydration can affect your mood and alter your mental performance at work. Some might get hesitant on drinking plenty of water before the shift starts since nurses are often too busy to even take a bathroom break. If such worries you, then you might want to get a head start on your water intake by downing a 20-oz. glass of water two hours before your shift. That way, you’ll have time to empty that bladder and you’ll have gotten in the lead with your water consumption.


Get a good night’s (or day’s) sleep before your shift

What better way to start an energy-draining shift is to make sure you’ve recharged and have enough energy to last the day. Lack of rest and sleep would lead to you compromising the quality of care you can give to your patients as well as their safety. When you’re sleep deprived, you tend to be more tired, cranky and more prone to mistakes.



Clear you mind from unnecessary thoughts and worries. You can try a simple breathing exercise, journaling, reading a few pages from an inspirational book, or even reading an inspirational quote. Those will be enough to keep you calm and motivated to push through with your shift.


Enjoy your travel time

                For nurses dreading another toxic shift, this may not be easy. Make your commute to the hospital as enjoyable as possible. Think happy thoughts. Go plug in your earphones and listen to your feel-good song. Or if you don’t like listening to music and prefer some quiet time, you can also do that as nurses rarely get a quiet moment at work. What’s most important is that you feel calm and happy on your way to work to get you in the right mindset before the start of your shift.

Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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