Mandatory 12 Hours Shifts or Flexibility?

  1. Our unit went all 12-hour shifts a few years ago, much to the dismay of several people, but eventually all adjusted and we're supposed to be 12 hour shifts.


    Lately however, (now is a whole new crew that was hear years ago when the 12 hour shift schedule came along) there are several people who for various reasons are throwing in some 8 hour shifts.

    We are self-scheduling.

    One guy who is in the nurse intervention project for getting a drunk driving conviction can't work overtime and says he's in such a financial bind he must work two 12's and two 8's. Another says she's having problems at home and must work four 8 hour shifts, but she has found a per diem nurse to work 4-hour shifts to cover her, but not always. Another one has another story where she must work one 8 hour a week, for some bizzare reason.

    This can be very disruptive sometimes to the rest of us because there are wholes that sometimes can't be filled. Or we fill them with a 12 hour person, and then the 8 hour person comes in (the drunk driver can't float) so one of the contracts then has to float.

    I know I'm babbling. But should floors work with their nurses needs at the inconvience of others? Or should there be mandatory 12-hour shifts for all, no exceptions?
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   emily_mom
    Wow, you guys really have some problems! Our floor is very strict on 12 hour shifts. If you can't work them, hasta la vista! They will let you get away with an 8 hour shift once in a blue moon (and I'm talking once every three months or less!)if you find coverage for the other four. Holidays are also only 8 hour shifts. For your floor, it is such an inconvenience to everyone. You should talk with your charge nurse or DON. Someone has to give a crap with what's going on on your floor.

    Kristy
  4. by   OBNurseShelley
    This has got to be asking for trouble, what a mess this must make everything, this can't possible work effectively, something needs to be done. The people that can't work 12's, should be responsible enough to find ppl to fill in the wholes or work on another floor where 8's are offered.
  5. by   OBNURSEHEATHER
    Our unit is kinda going through this right now. We were all 8's when I started. Then they started pushing for 12's, but they don't have the balls to make everyone do one or the other. So we have both. Then we have per diems that can't stand to be torn away from their children for more than a 4 hour shift. And then there are the unit clerks that all got together and decided to self schedule themselves independently of the nursing staff.

    Besides the animosity it breeds among staff, it confuses the h*ll out of the patients. Where is the continuity in that?

    Good luck.

    Heather
  6. by   deespoohbear
    Wow, this must be going around!! A few years ago in our med-surg unit one of the newer nurses wanted to do 12's. So, the DON allowed her to work 12's. Then a few of the other nurses wanted to do 12's. Then the schedule was worked out that those of us doing 12's full-time, could go to every 3rd weekend. Then one by one the 12 hour nurses cut back to 8's during the week, but stayed on 12's for the weekends. So now, me and one other nurse on the 7a-7p shift are the only full time 12's. One other nurse does all 12's also, and is part time. It is really messed up some days. We are almost always short from 3-7p (which can be our busiest 4 hours sometimes) and almost overstaffed (if there is such a concept) during the 7-3 or 11p-7a. Absolutely no consistency at our facility. Drives me insane!! (Which isn't a long drive!!)
    Last edit by deespoohbear on Dec 9, '02
  7. by   KarenKidsRN
    I actually think some flexibility in shifts is a great idea. Nurses are not one size fits all people. Some really can not do 12s because of child care issues. Few child care places are open early enough or late enough to accommodate what ends up being a 13 hour work day and lots of nurses are single parents.
    Some units are more able to do this than others like PACU or ER.
    I think being more flexible and letting people self schedule will be on of the keys to help with the shortage. I personally am working 12s nights right now but my first preference is 8 or 10 hour evenings and those are getting harder and harder to find. Sometimes 12s are just too long and too exhausting, especially for us "older" nurses. I think people could be paired in schedules with others willing to work the same rotation and it could work.I think besides just 8s and 12s there should be some 4 and 6 hour shifts also. Some with young children might be able to work 4 or 6 hours much easier than they could 8 or 12. The hospitals that are willing to be flexible will get the staffing they need, the others won't because nurses are less willing to put up with lousy hours and working conditions and we are finally starting to realize that we don't have to just take what they give us.
    I am a traveler and on my assignment now they have a mix of 8 and 12 hour people. Sometimes they are overstaffed and have to cancel registry / travevlers but I would much rather have that problem than to be chronically working short, just because some one is only available for 8 hours. Having them for 8 is better than not having staff at all.
    It's about time hospitals and staffers started paying some attention to the varied scheduling needs people have, and made it easier instead of harder for people to work and still have a life. I know lots of people that will even be willing to take a pay cut if it lets them work the hours that work for them, instead of being forced into a one size fits all environment.
    More work for the staffers and schedulers, but better retention and fewer exhausted burned out nurses.
  8. by   montroyal
    Originally posted by OBNURSEHEATHER
    Then we have per diems that can't stand to be torn away from their children for more than a 4 hour shift.

    Heather [/B]

    I am one of those nurses who only work four hour shifts. I do this because I have a full time job outside of nursing, not childcare issues. I pick my four hour shifts to help fill in a short area. The staff is always happy to see me, and appreciate the help. Most of the nurses I work with have told me they wish the could only work one four hour shift a month as I do, their are no hurt feelings. The web site of my hospital has over 100 full time RN positions listed as being open. With this many open positions, any help only goes to improve patient care, not hinder it.

    Per diem people such as myself have made a conscious decision that nursing is not our first priority. The reasons are as varied as the people. Any hospital who tries to force nurses to fit their needs instead of the hospital fitting the needs of their nurses , will eventually find themselves short of nurses. If any nurse I work with thinks this is unfair to them, I only ask they talk to me and let me know. I would be more than happy to ensure I do not fill the need on their shift. I would much rather work with people who are happy to see me.
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I am "one of those perdiem people who cant stand to be torn away from my kids for more than 4 hours at a time" during the week..... SO WHAT, GET OVER IT! I agree, montroyal. NURSING IS NOT THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY IN MY LIFE: MY FAMILY IS! AND IT STAYS THAT WAY! I LOVE those 3p-7p shifts and they pad my checks nicely..... besides,

    HEY, I do a lot of favors for the "regular" staff who don't want to work 12 hours, or want a day off to shop, handle personal affairs or WHATEVER (I don't ask). I like this; it works for me and works for them. We were taught flexibility was KEY to a successful nursing career way back in school. I could not agree more. I make my situation work for me and apparantly the regular staff don't have a problem w/it. I am called several times a week to help fill in holes or work for someone. It works for them. I like being home when my son goes off to school in the morning, to ensure he eats a good breakfast and gets encouragement to face the day EACH day. I like being with my 3 year old most the time cause let's face it, they grow up too fast and I don't want to look back and wish I had been there more when they were little. I would much rather they spend the majority of their time with ME, not a daycare provider. So, in this way it works for me.

    Besides, especially in an aging work force, 12's dont' WORK FOR EVERYONE; not EVERYONE Can HANDLE working on their feet, lifting, moving, pulling, pushing, tugging, towing 1000s of pounds of people, machinery and equipment each day. That same 12 hours spent at a DESK would be easier to take for many...but not an option in nursing. It takes it toll on even HEALTHY BODIES; just as any physiotherapist. So, why leave them out? I think a self-scheduling unit who has perdiem help and are flexible can work it out so everyone is "somewhat", at least, happy. And as the shortage grows more, I see flexibility in scheduling and other matters as one of the few saving graces that will keep some folks there. I just know no way will I work 3 12's in a row; I have no desire to be used up and worn out young, having learned from watching my senior coworkers.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Dec 9, '02
  10. by   askater11
    I prefer 8 hours. Mostly because I can't work 12 hour midnights because of my dh's job. (dh leaves for work at 4 A.M.--thus I'd need a babysitter from 4 A.M. to 8 A.M.)

    I wanted a new job position but all positions have switched from 8 to 12 hours...thus no one wanted me because all I can do is days.

    I went on A LOT of interviews but finally got hired. I'm curious how it will work. Especially with my mother watching the boys. A full day is a long time for my parents to watch the boys. I'm looking for another babysitter/day care incase they go on vacation. (the vacation one week every 2 months) So far I've been out of luck!!!

    I so wish for an 8 hour position!!!!!!!!!!!! But I'll see how 12 hour works.

    Flexibilty of a hospital is important!! Majority of positions where I work have gone to 12 hour positions. Now a person like me...which I must say I'm an awesome nurse....has no flexibilty. ANd unfortunately I can't work as often since the positions only 12 hours. The only reason I think I got hired to this job...is because I had to take an entry test and scored super high. The H.R. lady and supervisor were amazed how high I scored and said no one has gotten such a high score in a long time.

    I'm praying that hospitals will allow more flexibility!!!! Or else they may lose an awesome nurse.

  11. by   Tweety
    " just know no way will I work 3 12's in a row; I have no desire to be used up and worn out young, having learned from watching my senior coworkers."

    I used to work three 12's in a row on my weekend, which is every other weekend. Recently had to change that. It's not worth killing myself.

    My question mainly concerned when a unit was already on 12-hour shifts, is it worth it to change for those who can't, even it is not convenient for others. Especially if you might drive them away.

    Personally, if I worked on a 12-hour unit, I wouldn't ask them to change just for me. I would find a unit or a job that fits into my lifestyle needs. But I'm definately getting too old to work those 3 12's in a row. LOL

    Really it's not my business what coworkers work, I work my shifts and that's enough. It's what they need and our manager seems to be accommodating them so what I think doesn't matter. Was wondering what other places do.
    Last edit by Tweety on Dec 9, '02
  12. by   New CCU RN
    A nurse have a life outside of her unit........NOOOOOOO.....FIRE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!! That just isnt allowed!!!!!!!!!!!

    Any unit that is going to have absolutely no flexibility to work anything but 12's....seems to be putting themselves into a bad postion for problems with retainment, calls ins, and upset nurses.

    A 12 hr day takes up....ur whole day.... while some people love them, some people hate them...there doesnt seem to be any middle ground. It doesn't seem fair to require all employees to work 12 hour shifts. For some people, for whatever reason they just can't do it or choose not to do it. Why not allow for some flexibility.

    I personally am a 40 hr person but will be switching to Baylor which is 36 hr and am dreading only doing 12 hr shifts... I am doing it so I can take classes during the week ....but will miss doing half my hours doing 8 hr days.....

    My unit is self scheduling as well but we have a mixture of fulltime, partime, and hourly employees. We are almost fully staffed at this point and have nooo agency.

    If it werent for the high acuity at this time of year, we;d be perfectly staffed the majority of the time...so it can work out...
    Every employee deserves a little say in their schedule...
  13. by   SmilingBluEyes
    the reality is, parents are nurses. nurses are parents..we deal with daycare issues....we deal with elder care issues.....and we nurses ARE getting older as a work force, following our national demographic changes. So a hospital that "has always done it that way" may get into trouble if it refuses flexibility for its employees, both current and potential. Personally I won't work at a hospital that allows no flexibility for me. And like the poster above, I am an awesome nurse, I believe. So if they won't work with ME, I won't be working WITH THEM. That is the reality of many who work now or will in the future and it may be time to change shift policies if you are to keep those you have happy and recruit others to replace those who do leave.

    What I find INTERESTING is this: I work perdiem two places, the one that has a MIX of SHIFTS, 8's , 12's and perdiem, *never* uses agency nurses (really they don't have to). On the other hand, the one that has all 12's w/o flexibility is frequently calling upon agency nurses to fill holes (again, strictly 12 hour ones, w/o any flexibility).....people are increasingly not wishing to, (or CANNOT) work 12's strictly. Something that makes one think.......
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Dec 9, '02
  14. by   deespoohbear
    I don't have a problem with anyone wanting to work 8 hour shifts, or 4 hour shifts. On our unit though, all the nurses who pushed for the 12 hour shifts are now the ones who changed their minds and went back to 8 hour shifts. I am thinking about cutting back to 8 hours during the week and 12's on the weekend. But the down side for that our facility has no benefits for working part-time. If I stick with my 6 12's a pay, I can still remain a full time employee with the benefits.

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