That Dreaded 3-11 Shift - page 5

by TheCommuter Asst. Admin

22,561 Views | 54 Comments

One of my patients, a hard-nosed nurse who retired from the profession after more than 30 years of duty, struck up a conversation with me not too long ago about shift work. “What hours do you work?” she interrogated. Her New... Read More


  1. 1
    I worked a CCU that had 12 hour shifts, but they were from 3-3! When first suggested, everyone thought it was crazy, but after working it, we LOVED it.
    3am-3pm had only two meals to cover rather than all three. Baths could be given before breakfast. There was usually plenty of time to go over the charts, review labs, etc before the 'Wild Rush' of days started. A thorough assessment of each patient could be done without rushing because breakfast was getting cold. Getting off at 3pm let them pick up the kids, go shopping, keep appts, and spend quality time at home before going to sleep at a decent hour (most were about 9pm with their kids.).

    3pm-3am had time for a good assessment, check charts, call for any last minute needs rather than waiting till midnight, and to get to know your patients rather than talking to a groggy, grouchy person. Most 3-11 workers stayed up after work anyway so going to sleep at 4 am was not a big stretch. With some quiet time from 12mn to 3am we were ready to sleep. It also gave us late morning/early after noon for shopping (less crowded) and appts. We covered one meal and before-bed baths.

    We worked no more than 3 days in a row. In a 14 day payperiod, one nurse worked days 1, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11 and 14. Another nurse worked days 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 12, and 13. Set schedules made it very easy to plan ahead and 84 hours gave a little OT each pay. Floats or PRN nurses filled in for vacations, etc.
    Maritimer likes this.
  2. 1
    Quote from MedChica
    I've been working 16-hr shifts for close to a year now (as an aide and nurse) and I'm just 'used' to pulling doubles now.
    I worked the 16-hour weekend double shift on and off for 4 years and loved it because this schedule enabled me to have five days off in a row while being paid for 40 hours. In fact, this schedule made things simplified when I returned to school to complete an LPN-to-RN bridge program during the week.
    al586 likes this.
  3. 0
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I worked the 16-hour weekend double shift on and off for 4 years and loved it because this schedule enabled me to have five days off in a row while being paid for 40 hours. In fact, this schedule made things simplified when I returned to school to complete an LPN-to-RN bridge program during the week.
    I did the same thing for a few years (7a-11p q weekend) and also really enjoyed it (although I was only getting paid for 32 hours). I also used the free time to return to school (BSN completion program, in my case). Small world, huh?
  4. 0
    I never realized that there are a lot of nurses who hate 3-11 shift until after I've read this post..because back in nursing school a lot of my classmates actually love the shift and I don't have any idea as to why=)
  5. 0
    Childless, engaged, twenty-something ICU nurse here- if presented with the opportunity to work any shift I wanted, I'd totally work either 5-days, 3-11 shift or 3-days, 11a-11p shift. I usually stick with nights because I'm just not a morning person, but I'd love to not have to work all night either!!
  6. 0
    I have worked all shifts and 7-3 is my favorite. 3-11 was too difficult because I never got to see my kids. I was always exhausted when I worked 11-7. I like 7-3 because I can still get home relatively early and the day goes by so quickly. I like being busy all the time. 11-7 could be busy at times but there were those nights where time didn't move.
  7. 0
    I have worked all the shifts 8 and 12 hours, as well as 10 hr shifts (nice but not efficient for the hospital). I haven't done the 2-12-hr wknd shifts @ 40 hr pay. I've been working as an RN for over 33 years. I did 12 hr shifts for many years. I've found, as I've gotten older, it is much more difficult to work the 12-hr shifts, physically and mentally. I work at my current location, because of the 8-hr shifts. Surprisingly, 3-11 is a very popular shift, and we don't have trouble staffing it.
    Last edit by walkingrock on Dec 29, '12 : Reason: to correct syntax and punctuation
  8. 0
    3-11 perfect for us ADHD'ers unless we can get 7p - 7a. We hate any start time before noon.
  9. 0
    we voted going to 12H shift. Enjoyed it! The days off were better. 3-11 was good becuase you did not have the ego's of management interferring.


    Quote from TheCommuter
    One of my patients, a hard-nosed nurse who retired from the profession after more than 30 years of duty, struck up a conversation with me not too long ago about shift work.

    “What hours do you work?” she interrogated. Her New Jersey accent was notable, especially considering the fact that southern drawls are the most common intonation in the geographic region where I live and work.

    I replied, “I work from 6 o’clock in the evening until 6:30 in the morning.”

    She chimed, “Those are hard hours, but they seem a hell of a lot better than the 3-11 shift. I worked the 3-11 shift back in the days when all TV programming would cut off at midnight. Once midnight struck, all of the channels would repeatedly play the instrumental version of the Star-Spangled Banner. Nowadays cable TV has shows and movies 24 hours a day.”

    “I used to work the 3-11 shift,” I added. “In fact, I worked those hours at my very first nursing job after graduating from school. Personally, I wouldn’t go back to working that shift unless I was about to become homeless.”

    “You crack me up,” my patient laughed. “I got off that shift as soon as possible. It took up most of my afternoon, all of my evening, and part of my night. I was glad when the hospitals finally went to the 12-hour shifts.”

    This recent conversation got me thinking about shift work. Many hospitals made the conversion from 8-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts many years ago, primarily because of difficulties maintaining adequate staffing on the 3-11 shift. The main issue with going back to 8 hour shifts is keeping the 3-11 shift covered because relatively few nurses like to do it full-time anymore. This shift is simply not conducive with family life, especially if one has school-aged children. In addition, many childless singles (myself included) do not particularly like this shift.

    To be fair, there are people out there who absolutely love working the 3-11 shift. Moreover, some nurses contend that they cannot handle 12-hour shifts due to fatigue during the last four hours. Also, a study or two has implied that 8-hour shifts are actually safer.

    12-hour shifts have their benefits because they eliminate the need for one additional shift change per 24-hour period. This may improve continuity of care since errors due to skipped information are reduced as the result of two nurses receiving report in a day instead of three. Likewise, many nurses prefer 12-hour shifts because they enable one to have up to four days off per week. Besides, 12-hour shifts may help to simplify staffing at healthcare facilities because only two shifts need to be covered instead of three.

    I now work 12-hour shifts because I prefer them since there’s no way I’d want to be at the bedside five days per week. Anyhow, I was never able to establish a routine while working the 3-11 shift. If left to my own devices, I awakened at noon, slowly got ready for work, worked the shift, then arrived home sometime before midnight and watched television or did mindless internet browsing until 4am before settling down to go to sleep. I was able to create a solid routine when I worked midnights (11-7am) or days (7-3pm), but my time largely went to waste when I worked evenings.

    In summary, many healthcare facilities went to 12-hour shifts for specific reasons that revolved around their struggles to staff the 3-11 shift. Countless nurses love 8-hour shifts and many others are fond of 12-hour shifts, so it would be ideal if facilities devised a happy medium to satisfy all parties.
  10. 1
    3-11 was my favorite shift. NO WAY would I work 12 hour shifts. And personally, I am very leary of those who are working 12's taking care of me and mine, especially if they have had several in a row (I would consider that 2, because lack of sleep is a big factor.)

    I would barely be able to get myself home safely, never mind do meds correctly. I loved it when my kids were little because I had the whole day with them before I went to work, and could a LOT done. When I had to go to days, after my kids started school, I could get 7-3 shift done, but never had any energy at all do get anything else done after that.

    And I did work full time. I did 6 on, 3 off, 4 on, 1 off for years.
    And when my kids were grown and gone, I went back to 3-11, although worked per diem, not full or part time.
    nursej22 likes this.


Top