day shift nurses vs. night shift nurses

  1. I am a nursing student and i come from a family of nurses. Currently I am taking a medical anthropology class and we are studying all aspects of the medical system, I want to know from both day and night nurses why they work the shifts they do, how long, what types of biases they have noticed between the two shifts and how one shifts sees the other and why. my mother is a night shift nurse, and has been for most of my life, she has on occation worked both day and swing but she seems to prefer the night shift. i would appreciate any insight you can give me. this will help me deceide what to do when i get my RN.

    thanks for your time
    Angelluv1976
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   santhony44
    Some of us gravitate to a certain shift because we are either night people or day people. Our clocks just seem to be set a certain way.

    I'm a night owl. I hate getting up in the morning. I have more energy in the evening and can stay up really late or all night much more easily than I can get up early in the morning. I have a hard time going to bed as early as I need to for a day job.

    I think that's the first consideration for a lot of people.
  4. by   Antikigirl
    For me, I am currently working swings, and because of children and actually wanting to see my husband more than once a week (kids can be less sadly)...I really need to switch to days when a shift is available.

    Now, days are a heck of a lot more fast paced, more things to do, more MD's to contend with, more family in rooms, and other business items done during regular hours. It can be a whirlwind! However, I do much better if I am a happy person inside and outside the hospital...and right now, I am starting to get that down feeling because I haven't seen my own child in 5 days!!!!!! He is 12...I am running out of time to be MOMMY and will soon be just mom said with rolling eyes to his friends..LOL!

    So that is my deal with shifts. Nocs...body just didn't handle it at all...gave it a real college try but wow...that soooooo didn't go with the body and brain!
  5. by   banditrn
    I'm like santhony - I can BE up at 5 am, but don't try to wake me up then!! I hate having to go to bed at nite at a certain time, but when I get home in the AM, I'm usually so tired that I fall sound asleep within an hour.

    As far as working at nite - I've always felt that the people I worked with on nites worked better as a team. When I worked in ICU, the supervisor came up with this bright idea to have two of us go back and forth - a month on days, a month on nites. While I liked the day gals, I hated working 12 hr. days.
    I would have my assessments and meds done by 9AM, then think - OMG, I still have to be here for 10 more hours!!
    I did it for two months on days, then told the supervisor 'no more'.
  6. by   PedsRN1991
    I have worked both, and have been back on nights for 10 years. I went back to nights to accomodate my kids. To take them to school and pick them up and be there for homework.
    Now, I don't think that I could go back to days. I have a great team at night. I don't have to deal with the "politics" of days. I am not a "night OWL", but I don't think I would ever change.
  7. by   santhony44
    I haven't worked nights in ten years- it's not very compatible with family practice (doing an evening clinic is not good for the family or social life).

    However, I could probably do one tonight if I had to.

    I did know a family practice physician once whose office hours started at 1 PM. She'd come to the hospital at 10 or 11 PM to do rounds. She had a solo practice and could do whatever she wanted. People who worked day jobs loved it.
  8. by   RNSacht
    I want to start out by saying ALL shifts work equally hard and have different challenges. I certainly do not want a day vs night shift debate!!!! I work days 7a-7p because of my family and because I am not a night person. I feel like I have a normal sort of schedule with days, my kids are in school, my husband gets home around 5, kids are only home alone 1 hour after school. If I worked nights I think I would be crabby and would always want to sleep. The days are so busy, but it seems like the patients tend to get crazy at night. (remember the song the freaks come out at night???) The afternoon shift tends to get SLAMMED with admits. Again all shifts have the pro;s and con;s but this is why we went into nursing for the flexibility and the ability to Choose!!!!!!!!! Good luck in your career.:mortarboard:
  9. by   rnin02
    I work nights for two main reasons: I hate, hate, hate getting up in the morning. I can't sleep well at night knowing that alarm is going off at 5am, its weird. And night shift has a different "feel" to it, I've worked 2 totally different units, each day shift and night shift, and it was the same both places, day shift tends to feel more high strung, people are tense, and of course management is in and out and in the way. Night shift is more relaxed, there's better team work, just all in all a better feel. I miss being home at night, but working days will never be it for me.
  10. by   SuperFlyRN
    I've worked rotating for the first three years (two weeks days/two weeks nights) than we did a two and two for a while (two days than two nights than five off). Now I am strictly 12 hour nights and it is mainly because of childcare. My dh works long hours and I find I see more of my 5 year old son than if I worked 12 hour days. But I do prefer nights-I function better, not as miserable, you know. I work L&D so there is not a lot of "down time" (as many civilians seem to think!) as a lot of babies are born at night and as any new mom can attest-not a lot of newborns sleep at night either!! We book inductions round the clock so it is quite busy.
  11. by   australianrn
    I work afternoons, 2 til 10.30pm. It works well for me, i have time in the mornings to tidy, cook, shop if i want, or meet a friend for an early lunch or coffee.. then go off to work. Only thing i have to watch is not overdoing it before i get to work - because i end up getting way too tired

    I dont like starting at 7am, i am cruddy in the mornings and clumsy. Takes my body at least 2 hours to wake up completely.

    Here in Aus, most nurses are still working 8 hour shifts. I dont actually know of any nurses that do 12 hour shifts. I wish we had that option.

    Any aussie RNs out there, if you know of any places that are doing 10 or 12 hour shifts, I sure would love to know.
  12. by   Tweety
    I worked night shift for the first 13 years of my career. I finally went to dayshift after my ex-spouse went to day shift, as I realized I wanted to be on the same schedule and that I was essentially spending my life in a tired fog. I feel much more better on days shift. I especially feel better on my days off, because I'm not sleeping them away or laying down for a "little nap" and waking up at 2AM wide awake.

    I always thought I liked nights because "there's not much management around", but have found there isn't much management around in the trenches I work anyway, so that's not an issue. I love having PT, OT, social workers, case management, and other resources available to me as I take care of folks.

    I'm lucky that our shifts tend to respect each other and there isn't much animosity. Sometimes a night nurse will complain that something was left after being ordered many hours before. Often nurses who work days who have never worked nights think they don't do anything "because everyone is sleeping".
    Last edit by Tweety on Nov 14, '06
  13. by   BJLynn
    I work second shift (2:30p to 11p). It's mostly a child care issue with me at this point. My Dh works days, so the small one only has to be in daycare for a few hours. AND it is really hard to come by a GOOD paying first shift job in my area unless you have about a million years of experience.

    I really like the place where I work. We have a high nurse/resident ratio, but the nurses I work with are so super, and we work together so well, it really doesn't matter.

    Tomorrow I get to find out if I get my new schedule that I want: two twelve hour shifts and two eight hour shifts per week vs five eight hour shifts. Means more time with family.
  14. by   TrudyRN
    The only ideal hours are about 0830 - 1430, i.e., Mother's hours. And then only about 2 or 3 days per week.

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