Cardiac nurses — and all nurses — by nature, are caring and compassionate, and at Arkansas Heart Hospital they treat patients like family. Their impact is felt every day and night. According to the Labor Department, nursing is one of the fastest growing professions. If you’re looking for a career change or curious about the cardiac nurse profession, you will want to read on as we talk with night shift nurse Waynette Earheart. Waynette has been a nurse at AHH for 17 years.
Q: What do you like most about working the night shift?
A: We have a good team but you don’t have the extra staff – the extra physicians, nurse practitioners, all those people readily at hand. You have the patients to yourself. Everyone is a phone call away if you need them but it’s more peaceful, calm. You’re able to be the nurse you want to be. You have time to look at the chart, see the whole picture. It’s not as rushed. It’s calm. I never mind coming to work, ever. Sometimes I mind getting up, but once I’m here I’m happy. It’s my happy place. I plan to retire from here.
Q: Describe the night nursing culture.
A: This a family. These are my friends. You don’t have the dividing lines between the techs and the nurses, we’re a team. Whoever you’re podded with that night, that’s my gang. I’m excited with whomever I’m working with that night. If they move me somewhere else, I’m happy to see those folks.
Q: Have you always worked 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.?
A: I was a day shift nurse for years. I worked here on days for 7 years before going to nights. There was a staffing need to work night shift. They offered me a one month contract to come work nights and fill in the gap until they got some people hired. Once they were hired, I was asked to do one more month until they were trained. At the end of that, I went back to days. In 2 weeks time I was begging to go back to nights. I couldn’t take the noise and interruptions. I missed the calm and serene atmosphere. I had no idea what I was missing! To have a better atmosphere and to make more for it, it was a no brainer for me. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done it a long time ago.
Q: Is it hard to get a regular sleep schedule?
A: People are worried about their sleep getting messed up. I track my sleep and get 7 hours every day. It works. You have to schedule your family time. While they’re at work, you’re asleep. It’s okay, you’re not missing anything. Just because the sun is out, doesn’t mean you are missing your life.
Q: Describe the work schedule.
A: We have tracks, 4 week rotating, 3 days. So each week, you back up a day –work three days then back up a day. After you finish the fourth week, you’re on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and then you’re off for 8 days and the next week it’s Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So after 4 weeks of working, you get 8 days off. So you’re getting a week’s vacation essentially every month, without using vacation time.
Q: What’s the tradeoff for working overnights?
A: I don’t know what the tradeoff is. I don’t have young kids at home and my husband works the night shift here so it’s not bad. The night shift bosses are down to earth and easy going. They’re a co-worker then a boss. Now, they will be a boss when they need to be, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been here 17 years for a reason.
If you are interested in finding out more about working as a cardiac nurse, join us for a job fair on August 22 or search for job openings here. For more information on AHH and the great team who serve our patients, see our team of physicians here.