The Battle of Day vs. Night Shift

by nkochrn

28,885 Unique Views | 26 Comments

Nearly every medical facility has a day and a night shift and it seems that no matter where you go there is some level of hostility between these two shifts. Each shift has its own set of advantages and disadvantages and it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that both shifts are needed to give patients good care.

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    The Battle of Day vs. Night Shift

    I have worked both night and day shifts; I even spent a little time doing a combination of both shifts. The hardest thing about alternating between the two shifts, other than sleep issues, was that I had to constantly hear each side complain about each other. I always felt like I needed to defend each shift to the other.

    The day shift obviously has to get out of bed earlier in the morning; I’m not much of a morning person and know very few people who actually enjoy getting out of bed in the morning. The day shift tends to be busier since they are usually giving the majority of the meds and treatments. The patient is generally more active during the day making the workload heavier. I work in a rural facility, so the day shift is also dealing with taking care of outpatients, as well as pre and post-surgical patients. One thing that makes the day shift more desirable is the hours. They get to spend every evening at home with their families and rarely have to miss out on school activities.

    The night shift obviously has the disadvantage of having to stay awake all night; these hours will wreak havoc on anyone. The rest of the world continues on whether you are awake or not during the day, so unless all of your friends and family are also working night shift, it makes it hard to stay in touch. The night shift definitely has its own advantages. Things tend to be quieter, although this is not always the case and depends on what area you work in. There are less extra people around, which can be nice until things go haywire. When things aren’t running smoothly and you have to call in the “on call” person, you are made to feel guilty for waking them up. I’ve worked many very quiet nights, where you have to find things to keep you busy, like update and review policies. I would take a busy night over a night watching every minute slowly tick by on the clock any time.

    I know there are many more pros and cons that could be included in these lists. My point is that both shifts have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. If we can all work together as a team with less bickering about each shift then I think we could improve the morale of staff as a whole.
    Last edit by Joe V on Nov 14, '12
    Mseymour, Beatrice91, virgo66, and 5 others like this.
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  4. About nkochrn

    I am an RN and mother of 2, I worked for 6 years in a rural hospital, where I worked in OB, ED, and the Med-Surg floor. I started working in the IT department in 2011 at the same hospital, which has allowed me to be home with my family every evening.

    nkochrn joined Jun '08 - from 'Kansas'. Age: 30 nkochrn has '5' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'ER, OB, Med-Surg, Geriatric'. Posts: 292 Likes: 247; Learn more about nkochrn by visiting their allnursesPage


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    26 Comments so far...

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    Overall people can make arguments for both. To me the shifts always depend on two things, the staff working along side you and the type of patient population.
    I work at a large metropolitan hospital and we are able to schedule ourselves for 6 week time blocks. We can also request straight Nights, Days or mix depending on what the floor need is. Since I do not have kids I am far more flexible but I find nurses who hate to work nights or even days make the day more difficulty. They hide in rooms documenting, their slow to answer call lights and whine way too much.
    On the other hand during nights, I always look forward to working with a particular Tech who always works nights but makes the shift way better due to her great team work, personality and humor.
    So to me it has nothing to do with the time but more or less the company.
    canoehead, Jamesdotter, bebbercorn, and 17 others like this.
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    The thing I like most about days over nights is having a chance to participate in decisions about the patient's care and treatment plan with the medical team. It's also better for the social life.I work nights, am a complete night owl, and see myself staying on nights for a while. Waking up in the wee hours of the morning, when it's cold and dark? Not for me.
    Not_A_Hat_Person and opossum like this.
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    I quite agree that each shift has their own pros and cons. Maybe if we just learn to get along and avoid the bickering then we can have a smooth working relationship. I think it will start with the people.
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    Every shift everywhere gripes about the previous shift. Every. Single. One. It makes everybody feel like they're better than everyone else, and wouldn't the entire building would just fall apart if they weren't there to fix the previous shift's B.S?
    Of course, they're all super-friendly during report. It's just how people are.
    opossum, emcadams, and NutmeggeRN like this.
  9. 4
    Oh dear Heavenly Father, another Night vs. Day Shift Thread! Give us strength, wisdom, and understanding so that we may appreciate each others unique battles, cultural differences, and superiority complexes, for after all, although we are "Nurses," we suffer being "human!" (And all that comes with both)
    ShillaBSN, svdbyGrace0976, Meriwhen, and 1 other like this.
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    I don't believe in anyone complaining about another shift unless they have personally worked that shift for a period of time. We all feel overworked and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done, sometimes it is just easier to 'vent' but we shouldn't slam each other in the process.
    svdbyGrace0976 and krob0729 like this.
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    To both shifts, I get so tired of the KARDEX being read, followed by a paper shuffling sound to read copies of the Physician Orders, more paper shuffling- then the Progress notes.

    I want to know 1) name 1a) diagnosis or CC, 2) RM# 3)Dr. 4)how they done on your shift 5) new stuff 6) exceptions. 7)next patient. I can read the KARDEX and Chart the sooner I get out of this stuffy room.

    Ex: Ms. Doe is 123 y/o Full Code pt. of Dr. Fisishun w/Dx of CHF/CRF. She gets dialysis MWF, so in am. Breakfast Tray to Dialysis. 300cc of 1K ml restriction. No CP or SOB. O2@2L via NC. No new c/o. Family is giving her Salt, extra education needed. Foley-strict I and O, scant output tea colored. VS stable/afebrile. Heplock 20 ga R FA. Hold PO AM Meds for Dialysis per Dr. Fisishun. Tonight's weight 253.4 kg. loss of 0.4 Kgs.

    This nurse took 6 minutes on this patient, on her report. (this is what I said in report).
    Last edit by BostonTerrierLoverRN on Nov 15, '12
    krob0729 and Aurora77 like this.
  12. 0
    Most rotations here include a mix of days and nights. There are definite advantages to that as well, not the least of which is that everyone knows what it's like to work both shifts on a regular basis. In my last job there were only three aides that actually worked nights, and there were no end of problems with day and evening staff assuming we would do a lot of their work for them "because nights don't do anything" (even though it was the busiest and most understaffed night shift I've ever worked and was NOT quiet). Lots of complaints and attempts to foist off distasteful jobs on to nights. So yeah I think insisting everyone work all shifts can be a good thing from that perspective, though it's terrible from a work perspective.

    That said, if I could go back to an all night position, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I am a night person. Very few advantages in days for me.
  13. 2
    Quote from BostonTerrierLoverRN
    To both shifts, I get so tired of the KARDEX being read, followed by a paper shuffling sound to read copies of the Physician Orders, more paper shuffling- then the Progress notes.

    I want to know 1) name 1a) diagnosis or CC, 2) RM# 3)Dr. 4)how they done on your shift 5) new stuff 6) exceptions. 7)next patient. I can read the KARDEX and Chart the sooner I get out of this stuffy room.

    Ex: Ms. Doe is 123 y/o Full Code pt. of Dr. Fisishun w/Dx of CHF/CRF. She gets dialysis MWF, so in am. Breakfast Tray to Dialysis. 300cc of 1K ml restriction. No CP or SOB. O2@2L via NC. No new c/o. Family is giving her Salt, extra education needed. Foley-strict I and O, scant output tea colored. VS stable/afebrile. Heplock 20 ga R FA. Hold PO AM Meds for Dialysis per Dr. Fisishun. Tonight's weight 253.4 kg. loss of 0.4 Kgs.

    This nurse took 6 minutes on this patient, on her report. (this is what I said in report).
    I think everything you listed above is important, but I think it's also important to give a little more casual info. too. Some people don't care, but I personally like to know if a patient is upset because he's worried about losing his apartment or if they refused to take their medicine for five minutes, but finally agreed to, etc. It helps me know what to expect and the pt stands out as more than just a name/diagnosis. Granted, some people get a little carried away and make report last forever.
    svdbyGrace0976 and LibraSunCNM like this.


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