Comment: Daylight saving is a time to thank health care staff

While you get an extra hour of sleep, night shift nurses are getting some treats from WGU-Washington.

By Tonya Drake / For The Herald

The idea of one 23-hour day in the late winter and one 25-hour day in the fall started with the suggestion that the practice might save candles.

The year was 1784. Inventor Benjamin Franklin’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion estimated the likely savings. As with many other ideas, Franklin wasn’t wrong.

Today, 48 out of 50 of the states (Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe the practice) will “fall back” this coming Sunday.

This weekend, as you luxuriate in the extra hour of sleep, don’t forget that the 25-hour day means a more arduous shift for those who work through the night. The electric light bulb has made night work routine. Factories. Shipping. Security.

And hospitals.

Caregiving is a job that is truly around-the-clock, even when the day balloons by an hour to adjust the clocks for energy-saving reasons. (Ironic, isn’t it, that the night shift workers caught in these situations have to dig deep for extra energy to work harder through the night.)

At Western Governors University, one of the leading education providers for nurses and other health care professionals, we are acutely aware of the demands on the nursing profession. This weekend, to honor their service and dedication, WGU is delivering Night Shift Nurse Appreciation Kits to nurses at hospitals and other health care facilities in the Seattle area.

Each kit includes a handwritten note of thanks from WGU faculty and staff along with snacks, sleep masks, coffee (yes!) and pens. This is becoming an annual rite for us at WGU. And we will likely run into our own WGU Night Owl students; not a bad thing! WGU’s flexible, personalized, online approach to higher education allows for nurses to pursue degrees around both work and family obligations. In fact, WGU offers a $4,000 Night Shift Scholarship for night shift workers.

Caregivers at all levels deserve extra thanks this year. There’s a widespread nursing shortage, meaning there’s plenty of stress among those who are holding down jobs. And all these health care providers continue to treat those with covid-19. In Washington, the virus numbers are still troublesome to say the least.

So even if you can’t join us in delivering the appreciation kits, you can take a minute and offer your silent thanks for all their hard work before you hit the pillow for that extra hour of rest.

Or, light a candle, we’ve likely saved enough since 1784 to light one in their honor.

By Dr. Tonya Drake is Northwest Region chancellor for WGU, Western Governors Unviversity.

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