Do you prefer 8 or 12 hours shifts?

  1. Hi all. I have been a staff nurse at a small hospital for 2 years. I was hired as Rotating Nights/days on 12 hours shifts on the neuro unit. I am still rotating back and forth in the same week. Sometimes I work a dayshift then turn around and work nightshift the next night. My husband also does rotating shifts which was fine when I first started nursing but since then we have had a baby who is now 1. We don't have a lot of people that can watch her at night since we only have daycare during the day (M-F). My mom usually watches her if we need her all night but she has health issues and isn't able to watch her much anymore. Sooo...there is a job opening in a Doctors Office for a Surgical Scheduling Coordinator which is M-F 8-4:30. I am so tired of the stress week to week trying to figure out our schedules, when she is going to daycare, who can watch her what night, etc etc but I am worried about going from 12 hours shifts having 4 days off to working 5 days a week. Any suggestions/advice? I think at this point I have no choice because of our family situation and family comes first but I'm just having some hesitation.
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    About Studentnurse143

    Joined: Jun '07; Posts: 13; Likes: 1

    18 Comments

  3. by   Chico David RN
    You could say that I'm a bystander to this because I have a non-traditional schedule that is really different - so I work neither. But I've observed it quite a bit and have a few thoughts - though some of these may not apply to your situation.
    Most folks in nursing today seem to like 12s, and for the following reasons:
    Fewer days at work, more days off - this is the big one.
    More people seem to be living farther from where they work, and fewer days reduces commute time.
    Night shift people especially like 12s - the chance to live more days of your life on a normal schedule.

    Counter thoughts to that:
    While you may work fewer days, on the days you work, you do nothing else. Before or after an 8 hour shift, a person might exercise, shop, socialize with co-workers. On a twelve hour day, they aren't going to do any of those.
    I'm convinced that the last hours of a 12 people are more error prone and also less responsive to their patients due to being tired.

    And on a slightly different note: I am just appalled that there are still hospitals making people rotate. There are endless studies showing that shift rotation is bad for the health and makes errors and accidents more likely. And it's just inhumane. Seems like a pretty evil thing to do to people just to avoid the cost of paying a night shift differential. Bad management all around.
  4. by   tainted1972
    It is tough trying to work out a doable schedule when you have children. Before you know it your child will be in school and you will be wishing you had a "normal" schedule.
    If you take the m-f job you will be able to have more of a routine at home. It is also much easier to find "day" care rather than evening/weekend care. But make sure you look at the going rate for child care. it is EXPENSIVE!
    Personally I would rather work 3 12's. I currently work 5, 7 hour shifts per week and I hate it.
  5. by   Munch
    I really enjoy my 12 hour shifts I love my four days off. However, I don't have a husband or children, especially a child with health issues. Only you can make the decision that best suits your needs and home life. I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave and would tell you the best choice for you. Unfortunately I don't.
  6. by   Roxyann57
    I work 8 hour shifts and sometimes i think it might be nicer to work 12 hours and have more days off. working 5 days a week gets annoying after a while.
  7. by   Munch
    Quote from ashleynj
    I work 8 hour shifts and sometimes i think it might be nicer to work 12 hours and have more days off. working 5 days a week gets annoying after a while.
    I used to work 5 days a week but hated the two days a week off. Working the four extra hours is a bargain to having those extra days off.
  8. by   magnoliophyte
    I like my 5-days a week 8 hour shifts. When I did 12's in my preceptoring, the extra days off barely even registered with me because the first one was always just taken up by me sleeping off the tiredness from the previous back-to-back shifts. The way the scheduling was didn't snap with me either... most places, from what I've seen avoid giving you your 3 shifts back to back normally... so I hated having 1 day on, 1 day off, 1 day on... etc etc. Those odd days off in between barely even felt like they were worth it.

    For me personally, on 8 hours the weekend feels more like a real weekend. A ceremonious span of 48 hours where I'm totally decompressed because the week hasn't killed me or even come close to fatiguing me. The shifts themselves also don't leave me feeling very tired at all afterwards... I have more than enough time and energy to go home every night, cook dinner, do laundry or go shopping or goof around at home while getting a good night's sleep before work the next day.

    Some people thrive on the 12's though... I don't think they're for me at all.
  9. by   rn/writer
    My brain would prefer twelves, but my body likes eights. Body's winning.
  10. by   TheCommuter
    My favorite shift was the 16-hour double shift. I used to work two 16-hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday for a grand total of 32 hours over the weekend. This setup enabled me to have Monday through Friday off. Many people love shorter shifts, but I am a compressed-shift type of girl, which means that I would much rather pack as many hours into each shift so that I work less days out of the week.
  11. by   OutspokenRN
    Everyone THINKS they like 12's with supposedly 4 days off, but then people start working extra shifts or second jobs, and then you're hooked. One tends to spend what one earns. I've been doing nursing for 28 years and now prefer 8-hour shifts. If you're young and fit, 12's might be fine (I personally think that 16 hour shifts endanger the well being of your patients).

    I worked one job that required four 8-hour shifts as "full-time" and that was really reasonable. I think having to work FIVE 8's in a row would prove monotonous, although with childcare issues, I think it's a smart move.

    Best of luck.
  12. by   Ausnurse65
    Quote from Munch
    I really enjoy my 12 hour shifts I love my four days off. However, I don't have a husband or children, especially a child with health issues. Only you can make the decision that best suits your needs and home life. I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave and would tell you the best choice for you. Unfortunately I don't.
    Ditto as above, in the same circumstances and agree with what they are saying -
    I'm lucky that I usually work 3x 12hr night shifts in a row each week. So I do enjoy my 4 days off.
    As for getting tired at the end off a 12hr shift - the first few hours then the last few hours are usually our busiest time, so you actually get your second wind and are very alert and efficient for the last few hours of the shift (working interventional ccu off a cath lab).

    As above again, yes only you can choose the best decision for yourself. Family does come first. Good luck with your decision and I hope everything works out well
  13. by   Dazglue
    From the background you gave I think the Mon-Fri job would be best. However, is this going to be a job you'll like? Going to a job that you hate everyday will be worse than the stress you have from trying to find a sitter. Sorry, this is the only advice I have b/c I think this is a decision that you will have to make.
  14. by   Meriwhen
    OP: that's a tough decision...I also wish I could give you the $64,000 answer but it does boil down to you having to do what is best with you and your family.

    I prefer to work 8s. For full-time, 4 8s is enough for me--I'll take the 32 hours and the smaller paycheck than being forced to work 40. Also, working 32 allows me to easily pick up that 5th shift if I felt like it.

    I used to work 12s. They're all right but they really eat up the day: after I've worked 12 hours, travelled to and from work, and made dinner. I'd find myself with little time to get anything else done before I had to go to bed.

    I've done 16s a couple of times. Once was to get Christmas day off--I swapped shifts with someone who needed that particular day off more than she needed Christmas. The other occurred when they were having problems finding a nurse for the next shift and I told them that while I didn't prefer to stay if it came down to it I would...of course, staffing read that statement as "she's volunteered to stay, cancel the search." While I can do them if I have to, 16s are hard on me.

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