Merrin does not, as a general rule, take days off.
Oh, she doesn’t work a shift every day; she’s not sure they would let her and she’s never asked. And the official trainings on various emergency protocols are offered in standard one-hour or two-hour sessions, or rare special endurance four-hour sessions. She usually can’t line up two on the same day. She’s been at the hospital for a little over a year now, so she’s now at the point where some of the sessions are repeats, to keep her certifications active.
Harkanam is not a Quiet City, but it is a quiet city in the normal sense: a population of around 65,536, with only a small regional hospital. Merrin used to dream of someday making it to one of the big hospital centers in Default, but she’s trying to be realistic about her prospects these days. Just the basic education to work as a nurse took her a year longer than usual, and she still didn’t pass all of her theory tests on the first try. But she is determined that her hospital will be better off for having her on staff. She can get there; it just takes a lot more stubborn effort than most people would consider reasonable (or even sane).
As a minor regional center, the hospital is required, in addition to the several hundred standard protocols with thousands of subsections, to have a minimum of two nurses trained on each of a few dozen rare protocols – relevant for emergencies that will happen only rarely in such a small city, but if they do, the hospital will be ready to stabilize a patient long enough to transfer them somewhere else. Merrin, doing her best to make up for her other shortcomings, is at least able to make that easier for everyone else; she maintains certifications for everything on the list.
Her standard shift is six hours. Most people do two or four, but Merrin hated that; even now, it takes her longer than most of her colleagues to assimilate new information, and two hours in she’s just barely hitting her groove. She pushed it up to twelve hours once, when an unusual emergency came up midway through and she was the nurse already on-site with qualifications for the relevant equipment. The warm glow of accomplishment, of being useful, stayed with her for a week.
When Merrin isn’t working, or in training, or sitting in her room with a training program and studying for a cert, she’s usually found in the simulation room. There’s a minimum requirement to review certain simulated emergency scenarios regularly, but it turns out there are thousands of canned scenarios available; Merrin, with approval from her supervisor, can get access to ones that won’t ever come up in their little hospital, ones involving equipment or expertise they just don’t have on hand. It is arguably not the best use of her time, to train for things that aren’t going to apply to her, but - who knows, someday they might. Besides, it’s fun, and she figures that once she’s already putting in at least twenty hours a week of routine sim time, she’s allowed some fun.
She still struggles with a lot of things. Everyone else around her can read faster, track more numbers and more complicated models in their heads; when she started out, even fully qualified on all the basics, she just couldn’t keep up, couldn’t take in information and hold enough of it in working memory and process it quickly enough to make all the decisions that needed making.
(Which was fine, and expected, complicated patients - and that’s most of them, in the intensive care unit - are always seen by multiple nurses - but it hurt, that Merrin needed backup even on the relatively simple cases.)
To keep up, she has to drill and drill and drill, until she has enough of those mental motions down to the level of instinct. In the sims, she likes to fiddle with her alarm thresholds, setting them vastly more sensitive than the usual defaults. Alarm fatigue may be real, and you’re not really supposed to work in purely-reactive mode. But when each of half a dozen sensors has a different audio tune, playing at a higher or lower pitch for out-of-range values in either direction (and standard flashing lights, faster or slower), and you spend twenty hours a week hanging out with those tunes and lights around you, eventually it gets down to the level of muscle memory, and you - if you’re Merrin, at least - can respond without conscious thought. She needs her conscious thought for everything else.
She’s improving, she thinks. Eighteen to twenty-four hours a week of regular shifts - sometimes more, but the other nurses notice and give her weird looks if she goes above thirty hours, and Merrin hates weird looks, when all she’s ever wanted is to be normal, to be good enough. Then eight to sixteen hours of formal training with expert instructors (which costs money, but of course it's less than the hospital bonus for maintaining all those certs), twenty hours in the simulator, downtime with her spaced-rep program. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for a social life, or anything else, but that’s fine. Merrin lives in a little housemodule attached to the hospital itself - she'd have to move her module if the hospital ran out of live-in-patient housemodule capacity, but that's unlikely - and everyone knows to page her for weird emergencies even if she’s not certified on them, because she’s always happy to observe, and be a pair of arms if they need someone reasonably athletic. She wears her hair short so it doesn’t take much maintenance. Merrin has not especially figured out the whole romance thing anyway - well, mostly the sex thing - and she’s not sure what anyone would see in her, but she doesn’t really miss it. She watches televised Exception Handling scenarios when she’s too tired to think anymore.