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Surviving Shiftwork Conference

  • : Surry Hills NSW 2010

Shiftwork, put plainly, is working outside of daylight hours. Many people work these hours, but for nurses and midwives shiftwork represents the bulk, if not all, of our working lives. Despite the global numbers of people employed as shiftworkers, it can often feel like you’re the ONLY person going to work when everyone else is going home. Evidence is now revealing the physical and emotional consequences of shiftwork. It is therefore timely that formal education is available to all nurses and midwives to ensure you can feel safe, confident and prepared to survive the demands of shiftwork. Learn about:

  • How fatigue impacts your cognitive performance
  • The dangers of chronically-raised cortisol levels
  • Simple techniques that can promote relaxation
  • How to incorporate better nutrition and more activity into your life
  • Managing feelings of disconnect, guilt, and resentment
  • Overcoming occupational worry – how to go home happy!
Schedule Day One



Welcome and Introduction


Dr Linda Starr

Fatigue, Performance, and Safety – Whose Responsibility?

Fatigue unquestionably has significant repercussions on key cognitive functions. Our ability to focus, remember important information, and make decisions changes when we are tired. Feeling safe, competent, and confident in our ability to provide safe, quality care at any time of the day or night is imperative for all nurses and midwives. This introductory session will create a discussion around fatigue, performance, and safety at work. It includes:

  • How does fatigue impact our cognitive performance at work?
  • Are you more likely to make a mistake when you’re tired?
  • Who is liable if fatigue is found to be a contributing factor in a workplace incident?
  • What are workplace and individual responsibilities around fatigue?


Stretch and Breathing Break


Dr Sarah Jay

Shiftwork and Sleep – A Match Made in Hell?

Sleep is often identified as the aspect of our lives that is most disrupted by working unsocial hours. Good quality, adequate sleep represents one obvious strategy to surviving shiftwork. Understanding how to get a good night’s (or day’s) sleep and ultimately survive shiftwork begins with an understanding of the science of sleep. This session explains:

  • What occurs physiologically when we sleep?
  • What disrupts a normal circadian rhythm?
  • Sleep across the lifespan – what happens to sleep as we get older?
  • Health and safety consequences of acute and chronic sleep loss
  • Tips to better cope with shiftwork
  • How can this science translate into effective rostering and scheduling of shifts so we can practice safely?



Associate Professor Jill Dorrian

The Science of Stress

We don’t need science to tell us that shift work can make us stressed. However, what we can take from science is the physiology behind what is occurring inside us, particularly regarding our nervous system and the hormones governing it. When we can identify that our body’s sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive, we can turn our attention away from the state of stress and instead to simple strategies that deactivate it. This session looks at:

  • The neurobiology of stress – what’s happening in our bodies?
  • What’s going on at a cellular level when we are stressed?
  • Why are chronically-raised cortisol levels dangerous?
  • How does being in this state affect our performance and health?


Barb Hancock

The Art of Relaxation

If stress is a science, then relaxation is definitely an art form. We need to learn and actively practice this skill. Many would argue that for nurses and midwives, this is not something we’re very good at! Underpinned by your knowledge of the science of stress, this next session will demonstrate how you can easily counteract the harmful short- and long-term impacts of stress. It includes:

  • Can you switch off the stress response?
  • Why do we need to become more aware of our body sensations?
  • What are some simple techniques that can promote relaxation and improve personal wellbeing and professional performance?



Barb Hancock

Surviving Shiftwork is More than Just Sleep!

How often do you hear that you must care for yourself first and foremost in order care for others? Engaging and encouraging patients to make better health choices is difficult, especially if we are not making positive health choices ourselves. So how do we actually do it? This session will not just serve as a timely reminder about why self-care matters – it will ask you to commit to ways in which you can develop your self-care plan to manage your shiftwork! This session includes:

  • More than just sleep – what does self-care look like to you?
  • Finding motivations that matter to you
  • An opportunity to workshop, discuss, reflect, and prepare you to go forth and conquer shiftwork!



Michelle Girdler

Building Your Clinical Confidence

Confidence in our clinical ability is possibly the most underrated yet crucial aspect of staying safe and providing the best quality patient care. Competence undeniably goes hand-in-hand with this. Recognising when you are competent but not confident can alleviate unnecessary worry. Likewise, identifying red flags when you are overly confident but not competent can potentially prevent costly errors. This interesting session will look at the nature of clinical confidence, with a focus on how we can restore it if it’s currently low. This session includes:

  • Why does confidence take so long to build up, yet can disappear in a flash?
  • Can confidence help us overcome anticipatory anxiety associated with work?
  • How can you restore low confidence?
  • How can you regain faith in your own ability?


Day Two



Dr Natalie Parletta

Linking Food and Mood

Fascinating research is challenging the paradigm that poor mental health can cause a poor diet. It is acknowledged that changes in mental health -– such as stress or anxiety – can affect our dietary behaviours (hello comfort eating on night duty!). However, we are now beginning to also understand how better quality diets can improve a person’s mental health and perhaps even prevent mental health conditions. With nutrition widely accepted as a key aspect of personal and professional wellbeing, it’s time to look at the relationship between nutrition and mental health. This session includes:

  • What’s the connection between the brain, addiction studies and what we eat?
  • Diet and depression – is there a link?
  • How about stress, sugar, and saturated fat?
  • What are some simple approaches to introducing better nutrition and more activity into your routine?


Dr Peter Hayball

The Truth About Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements are used for a wide range of reasons, not just for the management of nutritional deficiencies. For instance, they may be used as agents to enhance mood and performance, decrease stress, and improve sleep. Despite their widespread use, information surrounding their actual, evidenced-based efficacy is often insufficient. So, what are their pharmacological properties and are they even safe and effective? This session will answer the following topical questions:

  • What are the benefits of fish oil?
  • When is Vitamin D indicated?
  • Topical issues – are zinc, magnesium, calcium, glucosamine, vitamin B12, curcumin for arthritis, and CoQ beneficial in disease management and for wellbeing?
  • What does the evidence suggest?
  • How do you know what is a reliable product?
  • Where are sources available for reliable information?




Communicating Effectively When You’re Tired – You’re Dreaming, right?

Fatigue is a high-powered enemy of effective communication. How common is it to feel like you’ve said the wrong thing, snapped, or misread someone else’s communication, simply because you’re sleep deprived! In our profession, this unfortunately can have detrimental effects on our patients, colleagues, loved ones, and ourselves. However, exploring current developments in neuroscience can provide insights into why communicating well when we’re tired is so difficult! In so doing, it will reveal some practical ways of overcoming this. This session will look at:

  • What effect does sleep deprivation have on our emotions?
  • Are we less emphatic when we’re tired?
  • How can we regain compassion, patience, and energy to improve our communication?



Overcoming Occupational Worry – How to Go Home Happy!

Did I sign that medication chart? Did I miss something? Did I do the right thing? Should I call work and check? You are not alone if these doubts filter through your mind on your way home from a long shift. If they don’t – you’re a lucky one and can come to this session ready to share your tips! Feeling satisfied that your work is done and having clear boundaries between your professional and personal lives are key ingredients to surviving shiftwork. This session includes:

  • What’s normal and what’s not – identifying unnecessary worry
  • The power of positive psychology and self-talk
  • Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries – how to leave work at work



Norah Bostock

Managing Feelings of Disconnect

Feelings of disconnect are unfortunately associated with working when others are not. The thought of being at work when your friends and family are socialising or asleep can create conflict, stir up feelings of guilt, and even resentment. Starting a shift with these emotions inside us is not conducive to connecting with our patients. Knowing that shift work is part and parcel of being a 24/7 caring health professional, what strategies can we use to minimise these feelings occurring? Let’s discuss:

  • Why unsettling emotions are normal and associated with shiftwork
  • How you can communicate more empathetically with patients, family and colleagues – even when you’re tired!
  • Tips to help you reconnect with your friends, family, and loved ones



David Cronin

Tired? Laughter is The Best Medicine

Nurses are known to have a wicked a sense of humour. However, when shiftwork starts getting the better of a once jovial nurse, it is no laughing matter. Miserable nurses create miserable workplaces, which is particularly worrying in environments where the rotating shifts can be, at times, unrelenting. This session looks at how you, as a nurse, can infuse humour back into your shifts and, in so doing, create a better working environment for yourself, your colleagues, and your patients. This session looks at:

  • What humour does to the mind and body
  • How to ensure fun is not callous in a deeply emotionally charged environment
  • How you can inject some fun back into your shiftwork routine!


The Goal Need for Program

Literature is now revealing the physical and emotional consequences of shiftwork. Safety and quality of patient care may be compromised if nurses and midwives are not optimally prepared for the demands of shiftwork. Evidence-based knowledge of how to improve performance and minimise risk is crucial to clinical confidence and safe provision of care. Education that encourages nurses’ to improve their own health and wellbeing is likely to further complement quality patient outcomes and improve job satisfaction.

Purpose of Program

The purpose of this event is to provide formal, evidence-based education on how to overcome the demands that shiftwork places upon the health professional.

Your learning outcomes:

Engage in meaningful dialogue with colleagues to improve safety and quality of patients throughout the 24-hour continuum of care

Reduce errors at night through knowledge of fatigue and performance

Have greater clinical confidence to provide care relating to a range of conditions that require timely, focused interventions

Use information relating to the implications of shiftwork on health and wellbeing to enhance self-care and motivation


To Be Determined

To Be Determined


Norah Bostock

Norah Bostock

Norah Bostock is a highly qualified nurse who works as a consultant in private practice in South Australia. Norah's qualifications ... Read More

Linda Starr

Linda Starr

Dr Linda Starr is a general and mental health qualified nurse, lawyer, and associate professor in the School of Nursing ... Read More

Barb Hancock

Barb Hancock

Barb Hancock worked as a Registered Nurse for 15 years in the clinical setting before her interest in cancer support ... Read More

Michelle Girdler

Michelle Girdler

Michelle is currently the nursing director for practice development in the Central Adelaide Local Health Network, SA. She has been ...Read More

Natalie Parletta

Natalie Parletta

Dr Natalie Parletta is a senior research fellow at the University of South Australia and a freelance writer and speaker. ... Read More

Peter Hayball

Peter Hayball

Dr Peter Hayball joined the South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS) as the service’s inaugural ambulance pharmacist in early 2012, after ... Read More

David Cronin

David Cronin

A professional speaker, David Cronin is an author, playwright, and songwriter. He was a member of the Clown Doctor team, ... Read More

Sarah Jay

Sarah Jay

Dr Sarah Jay is a Senior Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Appleton Institute, CQUniversity. She completed her PhD in 2007; ... Read More

Jill Dorrian

Jill Dorrian

Jill Dorrian is an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of South Australia. She has a PhD in Psychology ...Read More

Surviving Shiftwork Conference
Speciality Classification
Interest Areas / Topics Covered
Provider Type
11 hours
Start Date
End Date
11 hours
Price Details
$590.00 (two days)
Surry Hills NSW 2010
The Lakes Resort Hotel Adelaide, 141 Brebner Drive
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