Picking up extra shifts is a common way nurses boost their pay. Unfortunately, extra shifts can affect burnout for nurses as well as the quality of care for patients. As nursing shortages continue, you might find yourself being asked to pick up more shifts. Agreeing to the extra shifts can benefit you, but what happens when you don’t want to take on more shifts and find it hard to say no?
Don’t Answer When You’re Off Work
In states where mandatory overtime is not prohibited or illegal, you can’t opt out of it. However, you might find yourself fielding phone calls or texts on scheduled days off asking you to come in. If you’re off, and you get any work-related communications, you are not required to answer it. Nursing is a stressful job, and you deserve to have time to recharge and relax. Unless it is an on-call device, let any work-related calls go to voicemail, and don’t check any texts or emails either.
If you want to, you can respond with a polite message saying that you are on your scheduled time off and inform the person that you can talk to them when you are back at work. However, this is not required of you. Any staffing issue is a management concern, and it is not your responsibility, so don’t feel obligated to respond to anything when you are off work.
Take Time to Think
Now, if you’re asked to pick up extra shifts, take your time to think about your decision. If you’re in the middle of work, let them know you have patient care tasks to do and that you’ll get back to them afterwards. Whether you take 10 minutes or the rest of the shift, just be sure to get back to them before the end of the day. Let them know that you understand the need for the extra shift and that you appreciate the offer, but be firm if you want to say no. You don’t need to justify why you don’t want to take the shift, and you don’t need to feel guilty either.
Ask for Other Incentives
You can also try to get other incentives in return for picking up more shifts. There are different incentives you can ask for that aren’t monetary. You can see if you can get another day off in return for taking the shift. That way, you’ll be able to fulfill the hospital’s immediate needs and get your time off. You can also ask for particular work conditions. Ask your employer not to assign extra assignments or to float you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Being asked to take on extra shifts can happen often as facilities try to make up for staffing shortages. Taking on extra shifts can decrease your performance and impact patient care negatively, so if you are unable to pick up an extra shift, don’t be afraid to say so. Be firm, polite, and professional. Taking care of yourself and making sure you are healthy both physically and mentally will benefit you and your patients. It is not your responsibility to staff the hospital, but it is your responsibility to do a good job during your scheduled hours.