Jump to content

Best shift for a new CNA?


Specializes in Nursing Assistant.

Hi all! By reading several threads it sounds like just about every shift is very busy. Is there any advice as to what shift is the most favorable one for a brand new CNA? I know there's going to be a learning curve, just as there is with any new job. I'm ready to dive right in, but if there's a shift that is better to "ease into", I'd really like to know which one it is. Thank you for any advice!! :D


Specializes in LTC, Rehab, CCU, Alzheimers, Med-Surg. Has 3 years experience.

I would recommend 2nd shift. Something like 2-10 or 3-11. You only have one meal, and it is easier putting people to bed than it is getting them up. You don't have PT around, or very many activities going on to interrupt you. You even have a little bit of downtime at the end of your shift to chart and answer call lights without being completely stressed. The other cna's will also be more likely to help you because they will be less busy.

And one more thing, admin leaves at 4-ish, so you don't have to deal with them for most of your shift!


Specializes in Geriatrics.

I would recommend 2nd shift, for the reasons the above poster mentioned. Most of the job postings I see for CNA's, at least in my area, are for 2nd shift. A lot of people don't like working that shift, because it consumes most of your day.

I started out as a brand new CNA on 1st shift, but I work in assisted living, so it was a little easier to ease into. It took me about a month to really feel competent with my skills and to not feel as "slow" as I did in the beginning. No matter what shift you work, there's going to be an adjustment period.

I work 3rd shift right now while I'm in nursing school, and I LOVE it. No management around, and you have time to actually do your job. The only thing about working that shift when you're a new CNA, is that if emergencies or other things happen, there's less staff around to help.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

fuzzywuzzy, CNA

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience.

I also say 2nd shift is best.

It's horrible; it ruins your sleep pattern and makes you lazy (or at least it did that to me- I couldn't go to bed at night, couldn't get up for classes, couldn't get motivated to do anything before work), but some people like it. It's the easiest shift to learn on because it's not as busy as 1st shift but it's not like nights where all you do is change people. I'm on 1st now but I'm glad I started on second shift because of the crappier staffing and the downtime at the end- both of those things allow you to work on your time management.


Specializes in Nursing Assistant.

Thank you so much for the advice and input!! I really do appreciate it. I will definitely take all this information into consideration. And thanks for replying so quickly! :yeah:

KimberlyRN89, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg/urology.

Yes I definitely recommend 2nd. 1st shift is for those who are very fast paced & 3rd shift is for those who can handle taking on heavier loads.

Queen33FutureLPN, CNA

Has 11 years experience.

I would recommend 2nd shift because you basically just have to change them,feed them and get them ready for bed.I love working 2nd shift.I worked a 6-2 shift I didn't like it was way to early to get up.You have to get the residents up dress them,give bed baths take vitals lat them back down for a nap.I worked 3rd shift also it wasn't to bad.You just have to go in the residents rooms alot and check to make sure they are not wet some residents hate this.I wonder how they even get enough sleep.The 2nd shift is the way to go and at some facilities they pay you extra for working the 2nd shift or 3rd shift.Good luck!!


Specializes in CNA/ ALF & Hospital. Has 9 years experience.

Hi all! By reading several threads it sounds like just about every shift is very busy. Is there any advice as to what shift is the most favorable one for a brand new CNA? I know there's going to be a learning curve, just as there is with any new job. I'm ready to dive right in, but if there's a shift that is better to "ease into", I'd really like to know which one it is. Thank you for any advice!! :D

Personally to me , its second shift!

I would think any shift just to get your foot in the door

Dorali, BSN, LPN, RN

Specializes in 6 yrs LTC, 1 yr MedSurg, Wound Care. Has 12 years experience.

The job I have now is my first (been there almost 9 months) and I work days. It is super busy and you will most likely get thrown into it, Ive seen this happen several times. I've never worked 2nd shift, but I have gone up to my job in the evenings to drop stuff off for my residents, and the whole atmosphere is different. It's more laid back and not as stressful. There's usually a shift differential too which helps.

If it doesn't make any difference to you what shift you work, I'd shoot for 2nd. Good luck with your job hunt!



Specializes in Nursing Assistant.

Thank you! This advice from everyone is VERY helpful! I got my first CNA job...just waiting on the background check before they schedule me for orientation. VERY excited!!! It will be per diem to start, which is fine. I feel really good about the facility, the people, and the pay they are starting me out at. So hopefully I can participate in threads that involve shift experiences real soon!! Thanks again for the advice....it's very much appreciated. :yeah:


Specializes in family medicine.

I work 3rd shift, and I love it!! Ive oriented 7-3 and don't like it too much, I've worked a few 3-11 shifts and don't like it either. Too many things are going on and you have showers ! Not a bad thing but it's more work. Disadvantage about night shift is you have to deal with the residents that are agitated, confused, and combative also verbal abuse and the worst is a resident having an episode during your last rounds, resulting in not being able to make sure everyone is clean and dry before you go home. Also biggest disadvantage in my opinion is, if I work tonight, I can sleep all day until it's time for work again ( that is if I have nothing planned ) hope this helps your decision :)


Specializes in PACU, LTC, Med-Surg, Telemetry, Psych. Has 4 years experience.

LTC/Hospital: Overnight shift. No big brass around, not as many families, more downtime (usually), more relaxed co-workers and atmosphere.

Psych unit: Daytime. Everyone is in group meetings. Once you get everyone out of bed, it is all guard duty and 15 minute behavior monitoring sheets.


Specializes in LTC.

I started out on 2nd shift as a CNA. I loved that shift so much! You come in and don't have to hit the floor running, you can spend a little time w/your residents: passing ice, etc. then you get everyone up and changed/toileted, dinner, then lay em all down. The shift picks up around 4 (at least where I worked). I've worked nocs and IMO isn't the best for a newbie, cause you have a skeleton crew and if an emergency happens it can get scary! Days isn't the best either, cause you hit the floor running and also where I work the day shift ladies had been there forever and things can get a little dramatic!

As a nurse I work days now (in the same facility, I've worked there 6 years). I work days and LOVE it! I get to go home at 2 and have the rest of the evening w/my family. Administration is there most of my day (this is a bonus for me, if I have ?? or what ever). However I have to say I miss my evening crew and would go back there if given the chance (as a nurse)/

I would say day shift is by far the hardest, followed by nights, and afternoons or 2nd shift a distant third, which means 2nd shift would be the best for a newbie. Some places might have fewer CNAs working 2nd shift, so theyd have more people to take care of, compensating for the fact its just an easier shift, this is not the case where I work.

There has been some tension between days and afternoons where I work, as the 2nd shift has time to kill when they first start, so they go over the place with a fine tooth comb and report every little thing they find that isnt right. I'm not sure if this is done to make themselves look good, or because they have it out for some people on days, but its starting to get old. Management where I work is apparently oblivious to the fact days has to do twice as much work in the same amount of time as afternoons and simply doesnt have the time to make everything perfect, especially at the end of our shift when were scrambling to get everyone toileted, cleaned up and im bed before doing our charting.

Sorry I couldnt resist the opportunity to vent, but this might be useful info to you.

fuzzywuzzy, CNA

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience.

^ I can relate to that. I started off on 2nd shift and I know exactly what it's like. There is plenty of downtime at the end of shift to get things in order; however, I'm constantly finding messes from the night before. It never bothered me until they started complaining about every little thing 1st shift does or doesn't do. When I was on 2nds and someone *gasp* left a brief in the trash, I just took it with me when I emptied my own trash. OMG! What a huge inconvenience! Sheesh.


Has 5 years experience.

Where I work, 2nd shift is actually the hardest shift. It's a children's home, so most of the kids go out to school or workshop, so once days gets them up, by 9 a.m. at the latest, they only have 3 residents each for the rest of the day. Days also has 2 showers each per day, while 2nd shift has 6 showers each per day. I've also never worked 2nds someplace where you have downtime at the end of your shift - we always finish bathing and laying them down just in time to do our bedcheck and go home. So, as you can tell, every facility is different.

However, I do think 2nds is best for a new aide. There's less management around so you can learn in a less stressful atmosphere.


Specializes in Geriatric.

You know, I think alot of it depends on the facility and it's routines. 1st shift seems like it's pretty maddening everywhere.... You've got two meals to get people to and from. Squeezing in showers and other things makes the pace pretty frantic. I really enjoyed 2nd shift, but it can be impractical hours - especially for people who have kids. Third shift at my facility is no piece of cake. They go from 12 CNA's during the day down to just four. I can't imagine having a round of, like, over 30 people. Also, alot of odds and ends tasks get put on third shift - cleaning wheelchairs/shower rooms, etc... I don't know how they get it all done. On the other hand, I don't know how I get everything done on first shift either.

After all that rambling, I will suggest 2nd shift.