Practical tips for the nurse who’s always la...

Practical tips for the nurse who’s always late

It’s Nurse’s Week woohoo! Nursing is a time-sensitive occupation. When it comes to this profession, reacting to the events that occur between mere minutes – or even seconds – can be a matter of life and death, so this is one occupation that demands absolute punctuality. While you might be an A+ student and practitioner, some of us struggle with the punctuality side of things in all aspects of work and home life. So, what are the best ways to break the habit of a lifetime? If you want to get better at timekeeping, check out these useful tips.


Some of us are “naturally” disorganised… this can make timekeeping very difficult when we’re searching for keys or bus passes on the way out of the door in the morning! In these cases, planning ahead can go a long way towards making our commute that little bit easier. No matter how tired you are before turning in, laying out your uniform and packing everything you need into your bag (keys, travel pass, parking pass, etc.) can avoid huge catastrophes the next day.

Fuel Up

Having something to eat before you start your shift is crucial to give you the energy you need to perform. If you struggle to find time to eat prior to a night shift or for breakfast first thing in the A.M., try something you can easily make ahead of time such as nutritious (and portable) overnight oats to make sure you’re getting goodness and energy without sacrificing your precious time. Oh, and while you’re keeping your body fuelled, ensure your car’s got enough petrol too. No one wants to be stuck in the staff car park several hours after shift ends waiting for roadside rescue…

Time Cushioning

We all know that life happens, it’s a given. Thinking that the journey to work is going to happen 100% smoothly all of the time without delays is simply naïve, and we need to take steps to be ready for when hiccups occur. Giving yourself a time cushion every moment you leave the house is a great way to make sure that a little setback doesn’t leave you rushing to get somewhere on time. Most importantly in a busy profession such as nursing, arriving a few minutes early gives you time to spare so that you can grab a cuppa and be cool, calm and mentally collected before your shift begins.

Watch It

Your phone isn’t always practical to have on hand and it’s downright unprofessional to whip it out in front of patients, so you need a foolproof timepiece to keep you right; thankfully, a quality watch should see you throughout the duration of your career. Given the amount of washing (and let’s face it, not so pleasant substances) that nurses encounter on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to opt for something waterproof. Omega watches have a silicone seal that prevents magnetic waves from ruining the inner mechanism – ideal for anyone working around radiography equipment, and you can even pick one up second-hand for far less, too. Of course, check your trust’s policy on ‘bare below the elbows’.

Feel Guilty

We’ve all seen the worrying stories on the news and heard first-hand from those in the profession about the state of the NHS today. With budgets and resources being constantly stretched, hard-working and passionate individuals are being pushed to breaking point. It’s a frustrating situation for anyone working within the NHS to come to peace with, let alone be a part of.

As nurses, we have to support each other. Next time you’re late, take a moment to remember the knock-on effect that this has on your colleagues, i.e. the nurse waiting to finish a 10-hour night shift who can’t leave until you arrive, or the colleague who has to hold the fort themselves until you show up. If you take the time to really think about the impact your lateness has on others, it can be a huge reality check and a humbling experience – so much so, that you’ll want to avoid feeling this way at all costs and ensure you always make it in to work on time.