Excuse me nurse, but did you forget to do something this morning before you came into work? At least she remembered to put on her cap. Our pretty nurse isn’t making a fashion statement, she just didn’t get enough sleep last night. If you look closely, you will see that she is walking around in a daze. She can’t focus on the thermometer that she’s holding, and she looks like she wants to take a nap. Thank goodness she doesn’t have to iron her underwear. That way she can catch a couple of more minutes of sleep.
There are a lot of reasons why nurses don’t get enough sleep, but I think one of the biggest reasons is related to shift work. I once worked at a hospital that constantly made nurses work day, evening, and night shift all within a two-week rotation. None of us knew if we were coming or going, and there wasn’t enough caffeine on the planet that could keep us awake. Then we went home and we couldn’t sleep. I became very sick and I quit my job for the sake of my health. Reasonable people understand that making nurses work like this isn’t good for anyone, but many hospitals still expect nurses to work swing shifts. One of my good friends gave his boss a note from his doctor explaining why he couldn’t work swing shifts. My friend developed a sleeping disorder and started suffering from terrible headaches, so he wanted to work a steady shift. He thought his boss would understand, but instead of receiving support from his boss, he received a bunch of crap. His boss didn’t believe him. She accused him of lying to his doctor in order to obtain his “bogus note,” and she drilled him about his medical condition. She also demanded that he sign a release of information form so she could personally review his medical records. I won’t tell you what he said in response. Just use your imagination. Things aren’t going to get any better until nurses refuse to take abuse.