[black small square] I was amazed at the results of your survey, "Do You Leave Work on Time?" (Clinical Rounds, October 2004). Some 73% of your respondents said they don't leave work on time as a rule. Although occasionally overtime help is required and appreciated, there's no good reason for nurses to stay late routinely.
When I was working in the hospital as a new nurse, I was quickly headed for burnout because I couldn't tie up loose ends. Then another nurse told me, "There's a reason we have three shifts."
If a new admission arrives close to the end of my shift, I do what I can, make sure the patient is stable and comfortable, and then report off to the next shift. But some nurses I've worked with on the 3-to-11 shift don't leave until 1:30 a.m.!! Those who stay late repeatedly may not be expediting their plan of care properly during their shift. If they're staying late because of a chronic staffing issue, most facilities have formal complaint forms for addressing the problem with the nurse-manager.
-MARTIN DAYNOROWICZ, RN
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