A day in the typical shift of a nurse

Stories - Sign NursingNo day in a nurse’s life is actually typical, but they do follow a certain routine that anyone can follow.

However, you have to be prepared for the changes, the emergencies, and the craziness that can make up a nursing shift.


Many nurses like to come into the hospital a bit before their shift to get a handle on their assignment and the history in the computer. Getting yourself together is an important pre-shift ritual that will make it easier to take care of your patients in the coming hours.


The first report is the one you receive from the nursing going home, and it is important in getting to know you patients. You should not hesitate to ask questions during report, and you should take good notes to ensure you remember all of the details that may not be in the computer yet.


You then need to go around to each of your patients on your assignment, introduce yourself, and perform a preliminary assessment. Depending on what their chief complaint is, you can tailor the assessment to their problem, but you should do a total head to toe assessment on everyone just in case.

Med Pass

Just about every shift has a med pass, and it can take up a good deal of your time depending on how many patients you have.

Most of the time, med passes are interrupted, but this is a way to check in on patients, make sure they are still stable, and to get the meds to them that they need before the next part of their day.


After you’ve passed meds, you can start charting on your assessment findings and any other emergencies that have happened during your shift. Charting is a difficult nut to crack for most new nurses, but as you continue to chart every day, you learn what to include and what to leave out.

Odds and Ends

Inevitably, there will be odds and ends that you have to attend to, such as emergencies, call lights, physical therapy, imaging tests, and new orders from the doctor. This stage actually spans the whole shift because you are doing whatever occurs when it occurs during the entire time you are taking care of the patient.


The second report is when you tell the oncoming nurse what happened during your shift and get them up to speed with your patients. The secret to giving good report is taking good notes on your assessment data and the emergencies that arise during the shift, and this helps to give the oncoming nurse a good picture of what happened during the past 8 to 12 hours.

Leaving the Building

Even after the shift is over, you may have extra charting to complete or other problems that you are responsible for. Try to leave the building as close to the end of your shift as possible because you will likely burn out if you stay well into the next shift, trying to play catch up from the last one.

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