I’ve been struggling with the whole work-life balance concept recently, not so much in the traditional sense in amount of time I spend working and playing but coping with shift work.
While it is a fundamental part of working in a hospital, the 24/7 nature of the sector seems to make working to live more difficult.
Trying to organise a life around an ever revolving shift pattern has been very difficult. With most people generally working on a 9 to 5 ish timetable and Monday to Friday (I do appreciate that many people take work home, stay late or go into work on weekends) means that a lot of social events and things such as book clubs, sport, music, political meetings, evening classes, etc occur during in that evening time slot.
Although you not always working a late shift, the logistical difficulties in ensuring that you’ve got a particular evening off so you can go to something involves planning ahead 6 or more weeks in advance.
Even then, you’re not guaranteed anything and trying to swap post roster being issued is almost impossible.
Ever since I began as a Nursing Assistant on a very busy general medical ward in a large metropolitan hospital, I realised how completely physically and emotionally demanding working there could be.
It is not like a desk job where you are sitting down for much of the time. Nursing gives you a big physical workout with being on your feet for 8 hours and the heavy lifting.
By the time the weekend comes around, you're exhausted and worn out in a way that doesn't occur when you're at a desk for the majority of your working week.
Not only are the shifts full on but you’re often expected to work a late shift followed by an early shift which, if you’re not an early morning person like me, leaves you with very little energy to do anything else.
This raises the question, what happens to your “work-life balance” if your work is so physically demanding that, at the end of the day, you collapse on the couch with little energy to follow your dreams, do what you love and spend time with your family and friends?