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Effect of 12 Hour Shifts on Patient Care and the Nurse: A Need for Change.

Nurses Article   (11,132 Views | 92 Replies | 918 Words)

LindaGracie is a ADN, BSN and specializes in geriatric, psychiatric/mental illness.

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How can I bring change to 12 hour shifts on patient care?

Many nurses find it difficult to work 12 hour shifts both physically and cognitively. Research has shown working 12 hour shifts often effect nurses’ critical thinking, productivity and job satisfaction which impacts patient care and patient safety. This Article discusses a change theory which can be used to implement changes to the current practice of working 12 hour shifts. You are reading page 4 of Effect of 12 Hour Shifts on Patient Care and the Nurse: A Need for Change.. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

CKPM2RN has 3 years experience as a ASN, EMT-P and specializes in Emergency/Med-Tele.

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On 10/16/2019 at 3:34 PM, booter512 said:

 At any hospital I've worked at, staffing the 3-11 shift would have been a nightmare.  I have only met 1 nurse in 30 years of nursing that enjoyed that shift. 

And that is my ideal shift! 

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For those of you advocating for 12's, don't they turn into 14 -16 hour shifts? You would have to find extremely flexible child care in that situation.

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myoglobin has 12 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

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1 hour ago, 2BS Nurse said:

For those of you advocating for 12's, don't they turn into 14 -16 hour shifts? You would have to find extremely flexible child care in that situation.

Child care is an issue no matter what the length of shift. The strategy that we used was a baby sitter who stayed "over night" with our homeschooled son from the age of around five until around 17 (we both worked 12 hour night shifts and we worked together). This meant that we only needed "to pay" for childcare three days per week. This was from around 2005-2016 and believe it or not we would get over 100 applicants for this modest pay (central Florida) when we needed a new provider from a few online/newspaper adds (once every couple of years on average).  We paid about $60.00 per day (yes we were lucky/cheap) and allowed the babysitter to bring her child and or pet (depending upon the person).  Sometimes we provided a "free room" and food as an add on incentive (given that we rent a six bedroom house and there were only three of us made this feasible). Sometimes we provided rides home and or too our house.  Of course circumstances and challenges will vary. However, I have asked about twenty nurses at my hospital on this issue and at least 70% have said they would outright quit nursing if they had to do eight hour shifts and the five day per week schedule this would entail The 12 hour shift is literally a major reason many do this job.

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I am am over 50 nurse and come from the horse world where you work 6-7 days a week and the days are often over 15 hours.  Plus you were responsible even if you were not there, making it a 24-7 type of job.  Nursing is great and 12 hours is a breeze!  The best part is not having any responsibility after giving report.  I would definitely not do 8s in any way shape or form.  Having 3-4 days off a week is fabulous!  I have done both day and night and even though they are different in many ways, I would never do eight hour shifts and have to be there 5 days a week! I have fond that eight hour shifts leave no time for anything else and you are tired all of the time!  I would certainly balk if 8 hour shifts became the norm!

I also am an older single mom, he is 12 right now, with no family support.  I was easily able to find appropriate child care for him with no issues.  Childcare is not an excuse in my opinion!

Edited by mrf0609
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CGB1 specializes in CCRN.

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10 hours ago, 2BS Nurse said:

For those of you advocating for 12's, don't they turn into 14 -16 hour shifts? You would have to find extremely flexible child care in that situation.

Why would it turn into 14-16 hour shifts?  Nursing is 24/7.  When the next shift comes in, report is given and off I go.  730-8.  

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12 minutes ago, CGB1 said:

Why would it turn into 14-16 hour shifts?  Nursing is 24/7.  When the next shift comes in, report is given and off I go.  730-8.  

I hear stories from my coworkers about how they were called back in to work an additional 4 hours while exiting the building.

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On 10/25/2019 at 12:41 PM, CKPM2RN said:

And that is my ideal shift! 

As an empty nester, I would definitely work the 3 - 11 p.m. shift!  Exercise in the morning, make a meal, get things done, then go to work!  I'm too exhausted at the end of a 12 hour shift to do any of the above.

Edited by 2BS Nurse

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On 10/16/2019 at 7:04 PM, nursebey said:

There are some valid concerns with fatigue and the extended work day. I remember when I was 19 working at gp warehouse and them telling us they only did ten hour shifts because after that employees arent productive. HOWEVER I will never, ever, ever go to a job five days a week. My body needs a few days to sleep past 5:30am or Im useless.

Ive been an LPN for ten years, CNA before that. It was hard with small children and no family support, but I found a way and it works for me. Some nurses do prefer the 40 hour, five day work weeks but that should be a choice. I enjoy having three/four days off a week and Im not tired because I worked 12/13 hours.

Im tired because nurses have too many duties with too few resources and often no support from managment. My most recent skilled unit job we did all the admissions, med passes, treatments, managed two shift changes of CNAs, often worked with one nurse when we should have had two and at least one extra CNA. The longer Im in the field I realize it isnt the job I dislike, its the constant increase in responsibilities and expectations within that 12 hour period.  Try giving us the staff and help we need first, give more flexible schedule options for a work-life balance so we dont feel like we live at work and can actually enjoy the jobs we worked so hard to get. Just my half a cent.

Well said. My coworkers are advocating for 12 hour shifts. On my unit, we are there sometimes 2 hours after the doors close because we can't predict how many patients will walk through the doors at closing time. Our 12s could potentially turn into 14s. The acuity is getting higher because patients don't want to pay for the ER. The rapid response team includes me, one MA and one provider. My coworkers are already whining about how exhausted they are. I can't imagine the complaints if the shifts were longer.

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KarenMS has 3 years experience.

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41 minutes ago, 2BS Nurse said:

I hear stories from my coworkers about how they were called back in to work an additional 4 hours while exiting the building.

I would absolutely not do that. “Sorry, can’t, good night!” 

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

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5 hours ago, CGB1 said:

Why would it turn into 14-16 hour shifts?  Nursing is 24/7.  When the next shift comes in, report is given and off I go.  730-8.  

Sometimes that "next shift" doesn't show, and if there isn't a float pool, or the float pool is already taken, then you may be stuck waiting for a replacement to come. Sometimes charting needs completed if your shift goes down the toilet. Thank goodness it doesn't happen often, but it always happen on the worst occasions: you feel I'll, your daycare can't watch your child 1 extra minute, etc

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6 minutes ago, Hoosier_RN said:

Sometimes that "next shift" doesn't show, and if there isn't a float pool, or the float pool is already taken, then you may be stuck waiting for a replacement to come. Sometimes charting needs completed if your shift goes down the toilet. Thank goodness it doesn't happen often, but it always happen on the worst occasions: you feel I'll, your daycare can't watch your child 1 extra minute, etc

There is that one nurse who likes to chronically call in sick and gets away with it.

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hoiboy is a BSN and specializes in critical care.

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12 hour shifts make sense in that you want to minimize the amount of handoffs given. Every handoff potentiates the loss of information --> more errors.

The only trouble though is that night shift is always short staffed/inexperienced, though I don't see how moving to 8 hour shifts or anything else would solve that issue.

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