What is an average 12 hour shift like for a nurse

  1. 1
    I don't know much about nursing and I'm really wondering what exactly a 12 hour shift would be like for a hospital nurse.

    Thanks.
    sealford likes this.

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  2. 17 Comments...

  3. 5
    Once you are used to it, it doesn't seem like 12 hours. I would never go back to an 8 hr shift. Another 4 is no big deal and you get more days off.
    Julie19, sealford, tcvnurse, and 2 others like this.
  4. 0
    That's a hard queation to answer.It would depend on the nurse and what area they worked in.Do you mean specifically what they do for 12 hours?
  5. 1
    Anything would help. What exactly do you do? Is it usually super busy, is it usually sort of slow? What all do your duties entail... maybe run through an example of a day in the life of a nurse. The more detail the better. I know its different for every nurse so it can be specific or just in general.
    sealford likes this.
  6. 2
    I would have to say half of the time is charting/documenting in the computer. Ugh, it takes up so much time, but will come in handy to protect your butt. Shift starts off with a 30 min report. Claim med cart, briefly look at your patients. I prefer to check the charts in the beginning of the shift, just in case the dayshift nurse missed something or made a mistake. I don't know how many times I've come on shift, to find a Now order that was ordered 3 hours prior. Check the lab work, x-ray, etc for results, because one of the worst things to happen, is a patient or family member ask you a question, and you don't know. Check the scheduled medications and vital signs. Fully assess your patients. All this could take 2 hours, it depends. If you start your shift with a discharge and/or admission, that can push you back 3-4 hours, depending on how difficulty the discharge/admission is. Med pass can take between 1-2 hours. Once you give meds, start blood transfusions, do dressing and wound vac changes, insert a foley catheter or NGT, start IVs, you may be able to finally chart by midnight. (night shift perspective) Then you have PRN pain or BP meds to give and the reassessment of those. Not to mention the many MD calls you need to make, or back and forth with pharmacy.

    Dayshift kills me when they claim nightshift is easy because all the patients sleep. That's bs. Yeah, that dementia patient slept throughout the entire day, guess who is going to require a sitter for the night. That Sundowner's patient that is a fall risk, constantly trying to jump out the bed at night. There are less MDs rounding and less family at night, usually. But, they do still come, and there are still issues. Even if it is a slow night, we are the ones that have to pick up the slack from the previous shift.

    I could go on and on. Anywho, bottom line, it depends on the assignment/acuity level and organizational skills.
    Julie19 and sealford like this.
  7. 1
    Oh yeah, love the 12 hour shifts, because you get the 4 days off. I have to admit, sometimes 4 days doesn't seem like enough. I was surprised when I found out in nursing school that we work 12 hour shifts. Most shifts, the 12 hours go by pretty fast.

    Are you doing some type of report or something? OP is such a random question
    sealford likes this.
  8. 1
    Quote from DeezKeyz
    I don't know much about nursing and I'm really wondering what exactly a 12 hour shift would be like for a hospital nurse. Thanks.
    I work on a surgical floor, overnight ahift 7pm to 730am . Here is a run down of my normal shift. I get to work, get report, and go do an assessment on each patient. Then Start my med pass, give meds to each patient. During this, I am constantly interrupted with other tasks that pop up. Calling doctors, call pharmacy to beg for them to send meds, patients needing pain medication or other "as needed" meds. Then I generally try to chart the assessments. Then I round on all the patients, reposition them, check on pain level, make sure everyone is still looking and feeling ok. Then next med pass, more charting. Then I review the patients charts to make sure no orders have been overlooked and were all properly carried out. Then I make rounds, change dressings, reposition, check pain. Then give morning meds, ambulate patients that need to get out of bed. More charting, report, go home. Now while that is all fine and good, you need to fit in blood transfusions, emergencies, patient having nausea/ vomiting, new admissions from er or pacu, any changes in patient condition. So it is very busy, constantly. I rarely take a meal break. I try to have a granola bar while charting and coffee. I have been forcing myself to drink water lately due to the headaches when I get a bit dehydrated. I have also been forcing myself to take pee breaks, I have been bad at that. Being busy is good, it makes time go fast, but sometimes one emergency can put you far behind and you just feel like you are drowning. On a good night, I get everything done and my patients are all happy when I leave.
    wifewillis likes this.
  9. 0
    are you doing some type of report or something? op is such a random question
    actually i'm writing a short story featuring a nurse. great answers so far. i'm wondering how closely are nurses supervised? someone mentioned having to pick up the slack of the nurse on the previous shift, so is it possible or common to slack and get away with it? (i know you guys wouldn't do that lol).
  10. 2
    DeezKeyz, Not to be rude, but people on this site are nurses who discuss their careers and nursing issues. We try to help and nurture each other and do so by giving supportive advice to our colleagues on this site. Your request wasn't necessarily a breach of allnurses terms of service, it certainly was a time-waster for those who responded because they believed you were a student or new grad looking for career information.
    CherylRNBSN and beeker like this.
  11. 1
    Quote from DeezKeyz
    Actually I'm writing a short story featuring a nurse. Great answers so far. I'm wondering how closely are nurses supervised? Someone mentioned having to pick up the slack of the nurse on the previous shift, so is it possible or common to slack and get away with it? (I know you guys wouldn't do that LOL).
    Supervised by whom? On an average 12 hr shift in the hospital, NO there's not someone who "supervises" the nurses, per se, as in checking their work and making sure they don't miss something. Things get missed for any number of reasons- if the day shift nurse, for example, doesn't have time to change the patient's CVL dressing because her other patient coded and she didn't sit down all day, then the next nurse will have to do it. Not that big of a deal.

    Also, there is no "typical" 12 hr shift for a hospital nurse. Shifts are like snowflakes... no 2 are ever the same. I have had 12 hr shifts where I was so busy that I didn't eat, drink or pee all day, didn't sit down until an hour after my shift ended to start charting and didn't leave until 2 hours after I was supposed to. On the flip side, I've also had 12 hr shifts where the census/acuity were so low that we spent the entire night watching movies.
    wifewillis likes this.


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