Guest Blog: Staying Late at Work: You’re Going to Have to

by Andria RN · 6 comments

in Uncategorized

I’m going to interview myself about a subject that I never thought about as a student: staying after your shift ends to get things done. I’ll also tell you why this is a positive thing!

How often do you stay later than your shift demands?

In my workplace, staying later than your shift ends feels like almost an everyday matter. It may be because I’m still relatively new, or it may be because I float, but as soon as one unexpected thing happens, I can pretty much forget about getting out on time.

What kind of unexpected things happen?

If a patient gets sent out to the hospital, if I get a bunch of new orders, or god forbid get an admission, I’ll be staying right on the unit finishing up paperwork and charting. Almost anything requires charting and paperwork and will put me behind. Sometimes, just one time-demanding patient can throw me off course.

How does that make you feel?

It makes me feel like a bit of a failure. It is made worse by the fact that my facility is clamping down on overtime, making us feel like naughty children for staying at work and getting paid for it.

I sometimes think to myself: if I were only more efficient or had managed my time better, maybe I wouldn’t have had to stay so late. It’s a little stressful, knowing throughout the shift that you’re on a time crunch. Have you ever played a videogame where you were timed? It was a chore, wasn’t it? Some of these shifts feel like an 8-hour race against time.

Do you think this happens to other nurses as well?

Yes! My co-workers all share stories about how late they have stayed. One friend of mine told me they’ve stayed until 9AM, working a 3-11 shift! That’s more than a double shift.

Others tell me when they first start out, they consistently stayed 2-3 hours past their shift to finish up on the more difficult sides. I consider myself lucky, since the latest I’ve stayed is only 4 hours when I was working on my first admission.

You mentioned something good about this?

Yes again! As staff nurses, we get paid hourly. This is a huge blessing. Think about all the people who work in offices, in the finance and business industries, engineers, etc who get paid salary. Many of these people have jobs just as stressful, stay at work late, and get paid the same amount!

My father used to work as an engineer. They had deadlines, projects, and schedules. Near the end of projects, they would work day and night. They didn’t get paid an extra cent.

It puts things in perspective. So before you think this post is all about complaining about my job, know that we are lucky to be nurses! It could always be worse.

Kevin Pan is a recent RN graduate from Chicago. He owns the website ExamReviewExpert, which lets customers rate the NCLEX Reviews Courses they have taken. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Free NCLEX Questions on his blog, or write a review if you’ve taken an NCLEX Class!

  • Your Direct Health

    I really enjoyed your article Andria as a new nurse myself I often felt the same at times. I really know the feeling of a race against time.
    Please see the site I do work with at and

  • rachiblue

    Thank you for sharing this.
    I have been frustrated as a new grad, working on my own for the last 4 months. At least 1/3 working days I’m staying 1 hour later than my shift.
    Trying to explain all of the above to my spouse; difficult! , he has a 8-5 job, where many things can be done the next day….not in nursing, as you know.
    I love nursing and all the reasons that brought me to it, also, getting off 1 hour late and getting paid for it, is not the worse, right? Also, having 4 days off and being able to make your own schedule, is a + when you are a mom.
    However, it breaks my heart on the times when I return home and find spouse upset because I had to stay longer;-( … Is very frustrating!

  • AndriaCRNA

    When you are a new nurse, staying late is a given. It does tend to get a little better with time but there are still shifts that throw you completely off your schedule. There is just not enough time in a shift to take care of patients, deal with visitors, carry out orders, notify medical teams of progress/setbacks AND document everything as well. Perhaps your spouse will be more understanding if he sees that other nurses have the same issue? I often had to stay late as an ICU nurse but our management would not pay us for staying late so we would clock out and finish out our charting or other tasks off the clock. Try to explain to him that taking care of sick patients is not a predictable job. If a patient crumps at any point in your shift, you work your tail off until your shift is over, then you support the new nurse coming on to pick up where you left off. After shift change, you know your patient is in other caring hands, and you can breathe for long enough to look back through the charts, orders, and documents to make sure you did all of the things you were supposed to do so that A) the patient is safe, and B) you have provided good documentation of your care. I hope your spouse comes around to understand the life of a nurse because you deserve to have someone waiting at home for you that is supportive of your career and that understands you just spent hours caring for others (which can be quite stressful) and you might need some taking care of too!

  • Sunflower

    Thank you for the comments on the positive side of staying late. I graduated in December of 2013. I have been made to feel that I am a failure for staying late to document on resident’s progress, lab draws and the like. It seems to me that all the facility cares about is the bottom line. I have felt a failure and have looked at ways to cut time spent here and there in the day and often not taking a break to accomplish everything to be able to get out on time. It is a relief to know that other nurses feel the same way.

  • Rom

    Thanks for an amazing article well written and well done. This is so true when it comes to nursing. I never realized how much effort it took. I now work a agency called and a coordinator and many just don’t realize the work that goes into being a nurse

  • David Stack

    For many people I don’t know i they realize how much work a nurse goes through. Being a nurse is no easy task. I work with a home care agency called and nurse work is not easy

Previous post:

Next post: