The Flexible Hours of Nursing

Street Car Cable. photo: jparadisi

One of the many odd things about nursing is its flexible hours. Flexible for the hospital, that is. For nurses, flexible hours means your phone rings every day for weeks. It’s Staffing, begging you to work extra shifts because your unit is under staffed.

Or, it’s Staffing, calling to say there are not enough patients in your unit, stay home.

Today, both circumstances occurred. Since our first patient appointment at the infusion clinic was at 1000 hours, I was told to report at 9:30 am instead of 0800.The loss of pay doesn’t affect me as much as the disruption to my internal clock. I have no idea how long it takes me to get ready and arrive at work at 9:30 am instead of 0800.

Here’s an example: if I have not finished doing my hair and make up by the time I hear Matt Lauer’s voice on TV, I am going to be late for work at 0800. Without Matt’s voice, I have no idea when to eat breakfast. Instead, I start daydreaming, suddenly realizing I only have 15 minutes to get to work!

At 9:15 am there are more people and traffic than at 0740.  It takes longer to get to work. This throws me for a loop, but somehow I arrive right about the time I would normally have a small, mid morning snack.

Lunchtime comes along suddenly. It seems I just got here.

Getting off early is just as bad, especially if it’s around 2 pm (1400). If I go for a walk, I end up shopping, and I can’t spend extra money when my paycheck is short some hours because of my flexible nursing schedule.

I go home, but I don’t feel like napping, because I slept in this morning since I didn’t have to go to work until 9:30 am.

Writing this blog post, I lose the battle to keep from snacking, because now I have more time than usual between getting home from work and making dinner. I feel like Snoopy, lying on top of his doghouse with his dinner bowl balanced on his head. Like Snoopy, my stomach clock is out of sync. It doesn’t understand the flexible hours of nursing.