Hospital Nurses -- Give it to me straight...


Hi! I am new to the website. For the past year, I have developed an intense desire to become an RN. I am currently staying home with my 2 kiddos. In two years, they will be in school, and I intend on attending nursing school. However, I have been feeling that nursing is not going to be very family friendly. I am faced with the realization that my weekends will be filled with my family at home while I'm working a shift at the hospital. I fear the same for holidays. My question is this - is this a legitimate concern? I know that there will be some times like this, but does this happen often? Are there typically weekend nurses? Do all the nurses trade off weekends? Do you choose your schedule?

I live in the DFW metroplex, so finding an awesome nursing position (I believe) will not be a problem. However, I do think I'll have to start working nights...which is okay, but I don't want to miss out on my babies' precious years. Can you start out Part-time or do you have to earn that position? What is considered PT?

I just want to know what to expect and make an informed decision about my career and how it will effect my whole family.

Thanks in advance,



1,302 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 8 years experience.

Actually, nursing is both very family friendly and very family unfriendly.

The cons: working holidays, weekends, nights. Some hospitals tend to be less flexible with scheduling than others.

The pros: good pay with good benefits with only three days work (although they are long ones :rolleyes:). If you can be flexible, you may luck into a schedule that's perfect for you. If both your kids are in school, maybe nights are an option. You can sleep while they're gone and wake up when they get home from school. Weekends will keep you at home during the week when your husband is at work if you have little ones you don't want in daycare (not your issue, I realize, I'm just saying...;)) Lots of options are there.

Working holidays is pretty much a non-issue for my family (I've got a bunch of kids ranging from pretty small to on their own). I'll be working Thanksgiving this year and we'll have a big family dinner the Sunday before and then my family will come meet me at the hospital on Thanksgiving for dinner there. Christmas we just do a couple of days early, whether I work or not. The kids love it--they get their gifts early and if I don't have to work, we can spend Christmas day lazing around and visiting Grandma. It just takes thinking a little out of the box. Have a family meeting, you might be surprised at what the kids come up with.

I did prepare my family for years, "You know when Mom is a nurse she'll have to work Christmas taking care of sick people." I think that really helped--they know how much they like Mom taking care of them when they're sick ;). Also, I do what I can to get their birthdays off. That's important to them.

Sorry so long; I understand your situation and maybe some of this will help :). Oh, and welcome :D.


341 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry.

I don't think its as bad as what you are thinking. It also depends on where you work. We work every third weekend. I have friends that work every other. It just depends, but my impression is that most places are pretty good about trying to give people as many weekends off as possible, and making it fair. As for holidays, I don't know. Yeah, it would be a bummer to be away for the holiday, but you can work around it. I've prepared my kids that I will probably have to work on Christmas- I work nights, so if I do, either way, I'll be home during the day on Christmas, and we can open presents early in the am and have a big breakfast before I have to go to sleep, and do the traditional Christmas dinner on another day when I'm off. I'm thinking they typically rotate people who work holidays. Its been my experience that they try to be fair about things like this.

As far as days vs nights, plenty of people start on days. I had the choice and picked nights because the shift diff is $5 per hour for night shift.

I think scheduling is usually done by the supervisors. I have heard of some self-scheduling units. It seems that where I am they are pretty flexible and try to get people the schedule they want.. ie if you want your three days on all in a row, they try to give it to you... even if you want them on specific days. However there will be times you just get what you get because they need coverage. I also feel like its a two way street. The other day someone called off- and everyone was taking extra patients, including team leader, and they were trying to get someone to come in, just going down the list. I feel, personally, if they have really worked with me to give me the schedule I want, then I ought to come in from time to time when they need extra help. (its OT anyway... I'll take $50 an hour!!) Of course its not required, but I'm feeling like if they know I help out when I can, they'll help me out when they can.

Also, I don't think new grads can usually work part time. There is so much to learn when you get out of school. Orientations are usually full time, and you really need those hours at work to learn how to be a nurse. After a year of experience it would be an option though.

Its probably not like this everywhere, and I think I've gotten really lucky with having a great team to work with. I've only just started and haven't had enough time to really see where the problems are, but so far everything seems great.


13 Posts

Thank you for those who responded. I need very honest answers. I appreciate your candidness.


4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

hikernurse nailed it: family friendly AND unfriendly. But you know what? In life, we always have to make choices, make sacrifices, and comprimise, don't we?

My schedule allows me to spend more time with my family than if I worked a traditional 9-5 job. It allows me more money, too. However, it also means I might be sleeping instead of attending a school event now and then, in which case Dad is the parental unit on call ;)

The every other weekend schedule required of my facility works, too: did we always do lots of stuff together every single weekend? Nope. Some days were lazing days, or working around the house days, errand days, schoolwork days. So now, we just have time mapped out so that some weekends are family times, and others are not.

Holidays is a compromise situation sometimes, but then again, when is it not in normal life? Do you always spend it at the house you want, with the host you want, for the time period you want, traveling when you want....or do you compromise?

So, some holidays work out the way the usually did in the past (for good or bad, LOL!). And some holidays are celebrated the night before, or two days later, or in a quickie version before or after work. You work it out, and honestly the family adjusts, they really do.

Never once did I have a resentful child because things weren't exactly the same in our household as they were in their friends'. They knew for years, actually, that "when Mommy becomes a nurse" (sound familiar, hiker??) things would change depending on whether the sick people needed me that day or if someone else would be taking care of them that day. They totally get it. And I was SO PROUD when one of them announced to his cousins during a Thanksgiving dinner I had to miss that "Mom couldn't be here because she's helping to heal sick people. She's a nurse, you know" in that prideful way kids have :D


4 Articles; 846 Posts

Specializes in Med surg, Critical Care, LTC. Has 20 years experience.

There are also jobs that have a weekend only schedule, this appeals to some families. You work two 12 hours shifts and get paid for 40. But you must work every weekend. For some families, this works out great. You don't miss the school functions and your home 5 days/nights per week while your spouse takes the weekend duties.

There is probably no way around the holiday times. If they fall on your weekend, you'll have to work them. HOWEVER, there are usually people willing to switch. For instance, if you have small children, and another nurse doesn't, having Christmas day off might not be a big deal to her, to her, Thanksgiving may be more important. So, you would agree to do her Thanksgiving, and she do your Christmas. Management doesn't care, so long as shifts are covered.

In my family, I always take off New Years Day, as our children are grown with children of their own, and we have our "Christmas" on New Years ( we save a bundle of $$ by not shopping for x-mas until AFTER x-mas) - So I always offer to work Christmas for another co worker with small kids, and they will work New Years Day for me.

I'll think you'll find lots of variety out there, but there will be no way to get out of pulling approx 1/2 the recognized holidays.

Specializes in Med-Surg, Psych.

Most hospital jobs I've had wanted me to work half the holidays.

I had modified self-scheduling at most jobs also. You sign up for a schedule, and then the schedule is changed slightly to balance the schedule. I usually got pretty close to the schedule I wanted, and only had a really awful schedule a few times. You can try to make trades with other nurses after the schedule is posted.

As for weekends, I had one job where I had to work every third weekend with those weekends falling on a set schedule. At other jobs, I had to sign up for a specific number of weekend shifts over the schedule period with 4-6 weekend shifts required per 6 weeks. Sometimes there were nurses who prefered working on weekends, so I didn't have to sign up for many weekends.

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