Why do units rotate shifts?

  1. 0
    There is a nearby hospital I would love to work for, but they have rotating shifts. As far as I know, every single unit in the whole hospital rotates shifts. It is normally 7p-7a for 6 weeks, then they switch to 7a-7p.
    I think I can imagine some advantages to this (maybe so everyone knows what goes on on the opposite shifts, keep experience up, etc) but can someone tell me why they do this? I cant arrange my life like that. I have worked nights for 6 years and cant imagine having my schedule changed every 6 weeks.
    Please enlighten me
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  3. 20 Comments so far...

  4. 4
    We used to have to rotate because so many people wanted day shift and it was a way to accommodate them. Studies have shown that shift rotaters have more health problems than even night shift workers, so take care of yourself.
    tokidoki7, zahryia, skittlebear, and 1 other like this.
  5. 0
    I used to work 4 weeks of nights, then 4 weeks of days ... I really liked it. It provided more stability than rotating more frequently and gave my body a chance to adjust for each rotation. By the time my 4 weeks was up and I had to switch to the other shift, I was ready to -- fed up with the problems of that shift and looking forward to moving back to the other.

    I never like day shifts because I don't like getting up that early in the morning and I didn't like all the people/chaos of the day shift. But it was nice to be on a day schedule for a while periodically. I liked the night shift best as a shift to work, but after 4 weeks of living in darkness, I was ready to be on a day schedule for a while.

    That hospital used that schedule to provide the nurses with stability in their scheduling ... while at the same time allowing new nurses to get some day shifts. They had low turnover and there would be very few opportunities for nurses with less than 5 years of seniority to EVER work a day shift if they scheduled everyone on permanent shifts. The senior people would take the day shifts and no one else would ever get any. By having people rotate, the newer staff got a chance to work some days.

    That's usually at least part of the rationale for rotating shifts -- to give newer employees the opportunity to work at some of the more popular shifts. If you have to wait years to get a chance to work the popular shifts, it becomes VERY hard to recruit nurses into those positions. Rotating shifts provide the means to allow all nurses to "take turns" working the more popular shifts -- instead of having the newer nurses get a schedule made up of only unpopular shifts.
  6. 0
    I have never encountered a true rationale for rotating shifts, but I agree with the previous poster regarding senior staff wanting to work all day shifts. Where I work, we do three weeks of day shift and one week of night shift. It works out pretty well. I work all three shifts because I do not mind and my boyfriend is a steady night shift nurse.
  7. 4
    This is why I will NOT go back to bedside nursing in the near future.

    The area where I live currently has rotating shifts but it changes more frequently than every six weeks. I've worked in several other state and never had this.

    Who can plan childcare or a LIFE when you bounce from nights to days-or a proper sleep/awake schedule????
    yuck.
    otessa
    tokidoki7, Erindel RN, danamobile, and 1 other like this.
  8. 2
    Most places rotate because it is difficult to find permanent evening/night shift workers. Did you ask about working permanent nights? They may be okay with that, or you may be allowed to switch your schedule with someone who would prefer to work days - - I'm sure there is at leat one nurse who would switch with you!

    Be glad it isn't every 2 weeks, which I did for years. And we did all three shifts in the times of 8 hour shifts! Sometimes we did 2 different shifts in a 2-week schedule!
    danamobile and Otessa like this.
  9. 0
    Thanks for the insight so far. The reason of giving new nurses an oppurtunity to work days doesnt seem reasonable to me. Everyone entering nursing schools knows that as a new nurse you will be working the unpopular shifts, weekends, etc. When you are hired at my facility, you know it will be 5+ years until you work days. But we still have no problem recruiting staff. I think rotating shifts are punishing those who have worked at the facility for 5+ years and want only one shift
  10. 0
    Quote from TooterIA
    Thanks for the insight so far. The reason of giving new nurses an oppurtunity to work days doesnt seem reasonable to me. Everyone entering nursing schools knows that as a new nurse you will be working the unpopular shifts, weekends, etc. When you are hired at my facility, you know it will be 5+ years until you work days. But we still have no problem recruiting staff. I think rotating shifts are punishing those who have worked at the facility for 5+ years and want only one shift
    I have a family member that worked over 20 YEARS and had wanted days but still had to rotate shifts. Seniority should mean something.

    She now works as a nurse clinician in a clinic.

    I knew as a new nurse that I would work nights. I worked with many seasoned nurses that wanted to stay on nights and make 15-30% more. Maybe they rotate so they won't have to give premium pay for straight nights??

    otessa
  11. 4
    There are so many scheduling options out there that I don't believe hospitals have to do this. If they insist on it, then they should provide a 24 hour childcare center - no, not free. It is very hard on physical, mental, and emotional health for many to rotate shifts.........much easier to be in a routine.
    tokidoki7, jmtndl, truthbtolled77, and 1 other like this.
  12. 1
    I think one positive , professional rational for rotating shifts is that it helps maintain a better mix of skill levels per shift ie. one shift does not have all senior nurses or all junior nurses . There is also less of the our shift is better than your shift / our shift works harder than your shift angst going on .
    mamamerlee likes this.


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