12 Hour Shifts

  1. Does anyone else have issues with working 12 hour shifts? I have been a nurse for four years and I am still exhausted from working 12 hours (not to mention doing two or more in a row). I know, I know, we get more time off...but I find that I have to spend my first one or two days off getting over the fatigue and I generally end up feeling better just in time to go back to work!

    Please tell me how you feel (am I alone here with this?) and what you do to combat it?


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    About curlygirlrn

    Joined: Jun '02; Posts: 8


  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    It is very hard on a person.....myself included at times. I love being on per diem status; this way, I can arrange my schedule to exclude being on 12's as much as possible. Self-scheduling ROCKS. Or I can choose to work a 12 once or twice a week. tTo me, the hardest thing is 12-hour NIGHT shift!!! Boy, can that tax a person. I feel your pain!
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Jul 10, '02
  4. by   sbic56
    Do you work days or nights, curlygirlrn? I used to work 12 hour nights, now do 12 hour days and find I do fine now that I can sleep nights. I did lose a day when I worked nights just to catch up. Still, I had 3 good days off, so it was worth it to me.
  5. by   Rustyhammer
    I can do 3 twelves in a row but thats my limit. After that I'm just a warm body.
  6. by   curlygirlrn

    I started out working nights but have been on days for the past two years. It's a bit better on days.

    Thanks for everyone's prompt replies!

  7. by   CATHYW
    originally posted by rustyhammer
    i can do 3 twelves in a row but thats my limit. after that i'm just a warm body.
    rusty said it. there were times that i did 7, and even 9 12's in a row in the er to get additional time off (swapping with another nurse). i worked 7a-7p. by the last night, i was barely able to get myself home, much less drive to fl! that was 5 years ago. today my shifts are 8 hrs., but until may of this year, they were 12's. i tried never to do more than 3 in a row. after that, it seemed that all of my muscles felt like going in a different direction from my head!

    i think 10 hour days are best. those last 2 hours on a 12 hr. shift, you are almost worthless, unless a code or something comes in that gets your adrenaline pumping!:d
  8. by   Nurse Ratched
    Hate'emHate'emHate'em. Just a worthless pile of poo by the end of a 12 hour shift! Days, I'm a slug on the couch for what little bit is left of the evening when I get home; nights I barely get woken up and it's time to go in again.

    Getting wimpy in my old age, I guess!
  9. by   Christian Nurse
    I do twelve hour shifts. And I love them. I like the four days off during the week. My problem is I work nights and working more three in a row. So far I've only worked three in a row. And it was awful. But I'll be fine. I don't need much sleep so I think this is the shift for me.
  10. by   Sleepyeyes
    I don't like 12's; it's one of the reasons I left my last job. I was working 7a to 7p. I'd get 7-9 MS pts, and then at 3pm, I could get 7-9 new ones.
    On 8 hour shifts, I get more OT pay, also.
  11. by   misti_z
    I love my 12 hour shifts. Especially being on a 2wk pay period. It is very easy to schedule a 7 day vacation and still have a OT day. I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Just my $0.02!!
  12. by   NurseDennie
    Yeah, I know. But with 12's you don't get THAT much more time off. It's 36 hours vs 40 hours. I had a friend whos first job was two 12's and three 8's a week - what's the percentage in that? Still 40 hours, still 5 days. Ick!

    I worked 12's nights - 3 in a row. Whoooosh. No overtime. I wouldn't do it, it would have killed me. I changed to days pretty quickly, but still refused overtime. They made me feel really guilty, but FORGET IT. I took that job the way it was arranged so I could plan things at my daughters' schools!!

    What was the question? Ah, 12 hours vs 8 hours. . . It's hard work, 12 hours is a LOOOONNNNG shift!! I'd be willing to do 3 10's a week - that's still fulltime, and that would be a lot less wearing! I'm always up for LESS work time!


  13. by   benzene
    I am a 38-year-old woman thinking about becoming a nurse and have often wondered about this issue. Please forgive me if this question seems dumb and reveals how naive I really am, but how come hospital shifts are always 8 or 12 hours?

    Because I am "pushing forty," I have thought about whether or not I could physically handle nursing. With all the physical demands-- lifting and moving patients, being on your feet all day, not getting much of a break or lunch, etc., I have wondered how the older nurses do it. Right now, I am in good physical condition-- I watch what I eat and exercise--but I am sure one big reason nurses complain of being physically and emotionally drained is because of those long shifts.

    Why aren't there 4 or 6 hour shifts for those nurses who only want to work part-time? One possibility might be to break the shift 7-7 into six hour shifts for those who want them. Maybe something like 7am-1-pm, 1pm-7pm, 7pm-1am, and 1am-7am. It would seem to me that the "grueling" hospital working conditions would be much easier to take in smaller doses. Even though it is surely easier to schedule the longer shifts, there might be less burn-out with the shorter shifts.

    Just a thought.
  14. by   tinkertoys
    I work 12 hour shifts - 7p to 7a. My schedule is pretty set... on a 2 week schedule, I'll work 6 days out of 7 the first week, and the second week I'm off 6 out of 7, and the one day I work is usually either 7-11 or 11-7. That first week is really killer.. all I do is work and sleep. But then I have almost a whole week when I can be a 'normal' person. True, the first day off is lost to sleep, but all in all, I like it. I've never had much trouble sleeping, but some people just can't adjust . To each his own, I guess.