Shift of Perspective

I enjoy stability. I like routine. A schedule. A plan. I like knowing what is expected of me, where I’m supposed to be at what time, and what I’ll be doing there. I don’t go so far as to declare Tuesday night meatloaf night for all eternity, but I like knowing I will come home on Tuesdays, check email, and then cook dinner while watching bad TV.

Things are changing at work, and it’s forcing me to reset my comfy routines. For over two years, I was working a split shift, where I came in at noon and covered the day shift during their lunch breaks, and left at 8:30 pm after covering half of the evening shift. I loved it because I never had to wake up before the sun did, and I had time in the evening to cook meals more involved than frozen pizzas. But things change, and that position no longer exists.

In December, the decision was made to split the blood bank off from the core lab and staff it separately with two dedicated blood bankers on the evening shift, because the workload was getting to be unmanageable for just one tech. At the time, the evening shift techs, who are generalists trained in all areas of the lab including the blood bank, would rotate stations in the lab and find themselves in blood bank, helping me, one week a month. Unfortunately, because of staffing problems, the reality was that I was often completely alone in the blood bank, trying to do too many things at once, and having difficulty getting anyone to come back and help me because they were also busy and usually short a tech or two thanks to people quitting or calling out sick. I don’t hold it against them – everyone was trying to do too much with too little and that’s why this big decision was made, for the good of the lab and for better patient care.

We used to have a handful of specimens for the blood bank each night, but as the hospital grew, so did the workload. The emergency room is incredibly busy, labor and delivery is churning out 3 or 4 babies a day, and surgeries are happening later and later into the evening, so having two people in the blood bank all evening makes a lot of sense, and will be better for the hospital and for the poor techs staffing it!

When the change was announced, they asked me if I would go to evening shift, but it wasn’t really a choice. My split shift was going to disappear, and the only spot open for me was the new full-time evening shift (created by yanking my shift over by three hours). I considered other jobs, and even applied for a couple, but in the end I decided I am comfy where I am. I like the work, I like the location, and I like most of the people I work with. A day shift position became available and I could have applied for that, but with those hours, there would have been an even bigger adjustment to make. So for better or for worse, I moved to my new shift this week, dreading it because of the disruption of my daily routines. How will I come home and cook at midnight? Will I ever see my husband? I will work all that out in time. I’ve got plans to use the crockpot more often, or leave casseroles in the fridge with instructions for my man to stuff them into the oven before I get home. Maybe I’ll get more housework done in the mornings now. I just need a little time and it will all smooth out.

Yesterday was my first shift, and I am now sure that I made the right decision. It may be rocky for a while as I figure out what to do with myself all day, but the evening shift techs hired to work by my side are excellent techs with more experience than me, and they’re also great women I can get along with when we’re not busting our butts trying to keep people alive. Also, I had forgotten how much fun the other evening shift people are. This will all work out.

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