Just out of curiosity for someone working on transitioning into psych nursing.
Why do most psych jobs seem to be 8 hour rather than 12 hour shifts?
Personally I like 8's so no big deal, but curious about this when most "medical" slots seem to be 12 hour?
Depends on the unit. Generally speaking, it takes more staff to cover eight-hour shifts. That is why most medical units do 12s.
I enjoy my work as a psych nurse with the state of California, however working in such a highly volatile environment that deals with inmates who have a criminal AND psych history can be difficult. These individuals are the ones deemed incompetent to stand trial or labeled criminally insane. Many of my coworkers have been hit by a patient at least once and some have been severely injured during their shift. So while there are several places in Southern Cali that offer 12 hour psych positions my hospital does not. I believe that because this nursing specialization can be so dangerous and mentally draining there is a preferance to limit the time spent providing nursing care.
Good luck with your future endeavors!
I agree that psych nursing can be very emotionally draining. I have done both kinds of shifts for at least 3 years on each type. Personally, I prefer 12s, since working five 8 hour shifts feels like I am always on the unit. Working 32 hours a week is a good middle ground.
12 hours with psychiatric patients can be mentally and emotionally taxing (and yes, physically taxing as well). Plus for all the research studies that are in favor of 12-hour shifts, there's just as many against 12-hour shifts for various reasons (more stress, more fatigue, higher risk of med errors, etc.)
My facility is also on 8s.
My experience has shown me that while in every specialty the scheduling is more dependent on the institution's policies than anything else, there are trends to be found that are specialty dependent.
M/S, Critical Care, ICU and ER seem to drift towards offering 12s.
Home Care, Doctor Offices, Psych and Clinics lean towards all 8s.
While the assertion that psych nursing is emotionally demanding and hence offers only 8's has some validity to it, there is a flaw in that theory. That flaw being: Look at the list of places that offer 12's above. They are demanding too, although perhaps not so much in the "emotional" category.
Truth is, every specialty can claim to be "too demanding" in one way or another. So, if the response to this was to offer only 8 hour shifts to help with coping then, well, every niche in nursing would only offer 8s.
Money. That's what it boils down to. 8s vs 12s vs 16s, its not a matter of the nurses coping that drives the unit's or institution's decision making. Us coping well (or not) is something they consider to be our problem to solve. They balance out the financial pluses and minuses then make the appropriate policies to produce the results they seek.
I work for a state Psych hospital and we do 8s because the state of VA requires 40 hour week. A few nurses work 3 twelves and come in one day for 4 hours. Most, however, stick to the 8s
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