Daylight saving time. The ‘White Elephant’ of nursing.

It’s that time of year again. Time to ‘Fall back’. Daylight saving time is our wacky tradition of time-warping our clocks twice a year in an effort to have more ‘daylight’ in our every day lives. Well, at least in theory. There’s all sorts of arguments for and against this crazy habit. Does it truly expose us to more sunlight? Are we really saving money on electricity?

We all blame (err sorry, I mean credit). We all credit good ole Ben Franklin for coming up with this grand scheme, but it seems DST was not a Ben Franklin original idea. We can thank some dude  from New Zealand named Hudson.

But I digress. Back to that ‘White Elephant’ thing.

A white elephant is a possession which its owner cannot dispose of and whose cost, particularly that of maintenance, is out of proportion to its usefulness. The term derives from the story that the kings of Siam, now Thailand, were accustomed to make a present of one of these animals to courtiers who had rendered themselves obnoxious in order to ruin the recipient by the cost of its maintenance. In modern usage, it is an object, scheme, business venture, facility, etc., considered without use or value

The expressions “white elephant” and “gift of a white elephant” came into common use in the middle of the nineteenth century. The phrase was attached to “white elephant swaps” and “white elephant sales” in the early twentieth century. Many church bazaars held “white elephant sales” where donors could unload unwanted bric-a-brac, generating profit from the phenomenon that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Many organizational and church fairs still use the term today. In general use a “white elephant” usually refers to an item that’s not useful (decorative) but may be expensive and odd.

DST is the ‘white elephant’ of a nurse’s working world. During the Spring season, we ‘jump forward’ and set our clocks one hour forward at 0200. For those of us who work that NOC shift, we lose an hour of pay. For those who don’t work will lose an hour of sleep.

Then, in the Fall season, we ‘fall back’ and turn our clocks back one hour at 0200. If you happen to work that NOC shift, you have to work an extra hour (a dreaded 12hr shift becomes 13hr). For those not on NOC shift, you get an extra hour of sleep.

The only time this whole DST is actually beneficial is when you are not working in the fall on the night of the ‘leap’. You will technically get an extra hour of sleep. As for all the other given scenarios, there is no benefit what-so-ever.

So. DST. The white elephant. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s an item that really has no use (non of which have been consistently proven) and it can be expensive for those losing an hour of pay… and of course it’s odd as ever.

How many times have you started your day on Sunday, or even that following Monday and things just seem a bit ‘off’…..




One thought on “Daylight saving time. The ‘White Elephant’ of nursing.

  1. From a practical perspective, the tomfoolery of DST should be eliminated.

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