Five top tips for your first 12-hour shift

Books don’t prepare you for what it will be like when you do your first 12 hour shift.

Shellie Radford
9 May 2016
Hospital at night time night shift

Your will be both nervous and excited for your first 12-hour shift – but don’t worry!

You build up a picture in your head of what it will be like; what you’ll see, what you’ll learn and what clinical skills you’ll get to use. You begin drastically reading nursing texts, looking up different diseases and treatment plans. However, these books don’t prepare you for what it will be like when you do your first 12 hour shift.


Here are some handy tips for you.

Bring enough food.

This is essential! You won’t realise quite how hungry your stomach can get when you’re running around the ward talking to patients, answering phones and taking observations.

You might not even have time to think about your hunger, but I promise you, when you sit down for your break you’ll be grateful you packed a sandwich and some snacks!

Bring a notepad.

You’ll see so many different diseases, illnesses, drugs and treatment methods, and it can be difficult to keep up with it all during a 12-hour shift!


A handy notepad can help you jot down anything you’re unsure of. It’ll definitely help for your future essays and any future patients you come across.

Wear comfy shoes.

I can’t emphasise this enough! 12 hours is a long time, and for the most of it, you’ll be on your feet. You might be caring for your patients, but your feet need some tender loving care too!

Take a look at some the 6 Best Shoes For Nurses, Midwives and Support Workers.

Drink lots of water.

You might be checking your patient’s fluid balance, but you can’t forget your own. You can easily become dehydrated from walking around the ward, so make sure you’ve got a drink handy.


Treasure your breaks.

It’s not often that you get to sit down on a 12 hour shift, so when you do get the opportunity, use it to relax and let your body re-energise.

So you’ve completed your first 12 hour shift, you arrived when the sun was rising and left as it’s about to set. Throughout the whole day you’ve been so busy you didn’t even have time to look at the clock. 12 hour shifts go quick, and it’s a time where you really get to know the staff and patients. You’ll learn and do lots, so just make sure you’ve got a comfy bed to come back to!