15 Ways to Prepare for Day Shift as a CNA

What I know for sure: If you don’t get ready the night before, and start your morning with a plan, it will be a long day. You’re probably thinking that I am just trying to convince myself that this is true, because you pretty much “wing” your workday every time out of habit. I am also willing to bet you don’t have an organized workstation or supplies nearby either – which can contribute to wasting lots of time trying to find things on a regular basis.

Here are my top 15 ways on how to prepare for your day shift:

1. Put everything in place before the night

Yes, you can put your “work-out” clothes on the chair next to your bed, but what about everything else? What about that folder that you have been meaning to return to work with all those notes from off-going staff members? How many times have you gotten up early in the morning to prepare for work, only to find yourself still running around trying to return things at 10 AM?

2. Take your vitamins first

Grab a large glass of water to take your vitamins/supplements with first thing in the morning This helps kick start your day, hydrate your body and will increase energy throughout the day.

3. Have breakfast within two hours of waking up

This ensures you are prepared for the long day ahead, prevents feeling light headed or “hangry” (hunger + angry), reduces fatigue and increases metabolism so you can keep burning fat! You may have heard this many times before but eating breakfast is actually one of the most important things to do every day so don’t skip it! If you’re pressed for time in the mornings I recommend making a smoothie with a scoop of protein powder, almond milk and fruit–Blend it up in a cup and drink it on the go.

4. Pack your work bag the night before

nurse work bag

No need to waste time searching for things when you come home from work or in the morning when you are trying to get out the door quickly. Packing your bag ahead of time ensures you arrive at work on time without rushing around looking for items in an already stressful situation!

I always pack my overnight/work bag over a week in advance so that I can avoid any last minute rush or panic if I am pressed for time in the mornings. I suggest packing a reusable water bottle too because staying hydrated throughout the day is important for both your health and job performance.

5. Prepare any work snacks the night before

Do you have a favorite protein bar? Great, then pack it in your bag the night before so that you are not tempted to buy something unhealthy at the vending machine or on your way into work! I personally bring hard boiled eggs, green beans, watermelon and turkey slices to munch on while I am working because these are easy to carry around without containers/plates/etc. If you prefer healthy options like me however, be sure to store them correctly so they don’t spoil or get soggy too quickly!

6. Make a list of what you want to accomplish each day

This ensures you are productive and doesn’t waste any time during your shift. Jot down all the patients you need to chart for along with their medications, labs and other tasks that needs to be done before leaving work!

7. Look at your schedule for the week ahead on Sunday

I always remind myself of what days/shifts I am working on so that I can prepare my meals and workout accordingly. This is very important because not knowing when you’re going to work or how long your shifts will last could prevent you from meeting your fitness goals each month!

8. Leave early enough so there isn’t a mad rush in the morning

This usually means getting up 2-3 hours before your shift begins, depending on traffic conditions and traffic volume. Give yourself plenty of time to eat, shower and gather your things for work before leaving home! If you normally take public transportation then I suggest checking the arrival times beforehand as well since buses and trains always seem to run late during rush hour!

9. Don’t forget any medication

Check with your Drs office/pharmacy if necessary to see if there are any refills that need to be picked-up before the end of the week. Also make sure you have enough prescription drugs that will last until your next shift begins. You don’t want to show up at work only to find out you’re out of insulin or pain meds…its very dangerous if this happens during a long shift because it could prevent you from doing your job effectively or at all.

10. Clean up any messes that need to be cleaned

This applies to the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Do you have dirty dishes in the sink? Clothes on the floor? Make a mental note of these things so they aren’t forgotten by morning!

11. Organize your week’s schedule on a whiteboard/calendar

weeks schedule

I actually use two separate calendars for scheduling purposes: a planner for my shifts and appointments along with a whiteboard calendar that has the whole month on one sheet of paper with different colored dry erase markers depending on if its work, school, personal etc. 

This ensures nothing gets lost or double booked as well as reminds you of any birthdays, holidays and other important events that fall within your schedule!

12. Call a family member or friend if you’re feeling too sleepy

If you are in the habit of taking naps during the day then make sure to do so at least an hour before leaving for work. I only tell you this because when you sleep right before heading into work it makes your shift less productive and more difficult since your body is in a state of rest. It is very dangerous not only for the patients but also yourself since driving while tired is equally as bad as driving while intoxicated! You don’t want to cause injury to yourself or someone else just because you fell asleep behind the wheel.

13. Put together a care package for your family member

This includes snacks, drinks, toiletries and even some treats like candy bars or cookies. I would advise against giving anything too messy because it could end up on their clothes/person which will just be more work for them when they return home. Also try not to give them food items that require a microwave since many shift workers can’t access one on the unit.

14. Send your partner home with everything they need

Make sure they have all their meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as anything they might need during the first few hours of their shift that may have been forgotten such as pens/pencils, ID cards or even money! You don’t want them to show up at work only to find out that something was left behind by accident. Plus it will make you feel less guilty about leaving if you know this has been done beforehand!

15. Don’t forget to wear something nice

There’s nothing wrong with looking presentable at work especially when you are wearing scrubs! It adds self-confidence and professionalism if your attire is clean, pressed and ironed before heading onto the floor. Make sure to carry around a travel sized bottle of fabric refresher spray so that your clothes stay fresh all day long!

These tips should help you get into the right mindset before beginning your shift. This prevents not only stress but also potential mistakes made due to lack of attention or carelessness because you’re too busy worrying about other things in life instead of just taking one day at a time. happy shift planning!