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How to maintain energy levels during a long hospital shift

  • June 18, 2018

NHS doctors are often described as “super-heroes” because of the long and hard working hours they dedicate to the UK health service. GMC Reports reveal that often doctors are required to work over-time because of the high level of rota gaps within the hospital or other doctors stayed longer voluntarily because they felt they could not gain the experience or training they needed within their contracted hours.

Furthermore, staff shortages also mean that doctors are often so busy that they cannot take breaks or eat during long shifts with reports claiming doctors were ‘delirious’. Although changes to many NHS Trusts are being implemented to reduce this problem, countless doctors are still “exhausted” on their shift.

Therefore, in this blog article, we are going to provide you with tips on how to maintain your energy levels during a long and stressful hospital shift – that do not require multiple trips to the coffee machine.

  1. Start your day with exercise

Exercise gives your cells more energy to burn and circulates oxygen. It will also help your body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine, stress hormones that in modest amounts can make you feel energised. Therefore, even as little as a brisk start to your day will get your blood pumping and keep you going for the rest of the day.

  1. Eat for energy

Research shows that it is better to eat small meals and snacks every few hours rather than three large meals a day. This approach to eating can reduce your perception of fatigue because your brain needs a steady supply of nutrients.

You should also eat foods with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains, high in fibre vegetables, nuts and healthy oils – this will prevent the lag in energy that occurs after eating absorbed or refined starches.

  1. Call a friend or family member

Whether you are calling for a quick catch up on your lunch break, or simply want to vent some of the day’s frustrations, this short social moment will recharge your batteries and give you the support needed to battle any tough day. This conversation will also help the other person on the end of the phone.

4.    Take a twenty-minute power nap

Although this is not always possible, and some may view it as being unprofessional - when you are working over-time a power nap may be essential. Research shows that a brief nap can help revitalise you for the whole day.

  1. Drink Water

Fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration and as our body is approximately 60% water, a loss of just one to two percent of body weight as water is enough to cause body systems to slow down, which will result in you feeling sluggish, tired and irritable. So, remember to drink plenty of water.

  1. Get some sunshine

If you are working under artificial light all day, use your break to get ten minutes of some sunshine. First, going outside will help you feel refreshed. Second, a few minutes of sunlight has tangible benefits. It helps the body produce vitamin D, which helps maintain the immune system. Sun exposure also boosts serotonin levels, which will improve your mood and help you sleep better at night.

If you are an international doctor who wants to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] – and we will be happy to help you. In addition, if you would like support from an online forum of other IMG’s join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor: IMG Advisor

Alternatively, if you are an NHS hospital who would like support in finding permanent doctors to replace long-term costly locum doctors – contact us at [email protected].


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