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8 hour shift vs. 12 hour shift - your opinion...


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by TovaFlynn TovaFlynn (New) New

I just started my first nursing job a few weeks ago. I thought I'd hate 12 hours. Even on very stressful days 12 is the best. I can't imagine ending my shift at 3pm. I'd be in such a rush at shift end to get every thing done and go home frazzled. I now leave at 1930 and the last part of the shift is relatively relaxed even on hard days. I have time to do more than erdands and house work on my days off. Surprisingly I am well rested. Although, I don't like having to go to bed when I get home on work nights. However, It is only for 3 days so I can live with going to work eating and going right to bed for a couple of night a week. I get more time off spend less time and gas traveling. My husband joked about time for a second job. (but he's right I do have the time.) Continuity is good only in that you MIGHT report off to the same person you reported on to. However, working fewer days canclels this out. As you may not be back for 4 days or more. So even in long term care there is poor continunity. By doing 12's I cut 4 hours of driving time off my week, and save gas and wear an tear on the car. I can even schedule so that I have as many as 8 days off in a row; I had 6 this week. Beieve me all the stress goes away in your time off because you really have time off. I don't go back dreading it. I know what ever stress I face will be for a very limited number of days. This helps me cope. 8 hours might be better if say you had to have certain hours off every day. Like with children in school or something. Or if you liked to unwind after work and could not discipline yourself to go to bed instead. It is easier to leave work behind when you are not going back day after day.

As the person who monitors the work performance those who work 12 hours usually put in 8 good hours and are usually exhausted the other 4 hours and are just there. It also can create a huge breakdown in communication if there isn't good communication to start with. There also is that tendancy to put things off till a later time because of 12 hours.

As the person who monitors the work performance those who work 12 hours usually put in 8 good hours and are usually exhausted the other 4 hours and are just there. It also can create a huge breakdown in communication if there isn't good communication to start with. There also is that tendancy to put things off till a later time because of 12 hours.

I have worked both 8s and12s. I also prefer the 12 s. I agree with ratchit that it does facilitate continuity between shifts and it also decreases

animosity, because there is only two shifts instead of three. You do get to spend more time at the bedside. I also agree that it can get hectic in the morning, but I think I would stick to 7p-7a , I done 11p-11a a couple times on fill in and don't care for that. I've never tried5p-5a but I've heard of hospitals donig that.

I also have an off the subject question for ratchit. Have you ever seen the movie "high Anxiety" I loved Nurse Ratchit in that movie. ;]

I once was asked to come up with better staffing ratios for actuall patient care, and came up with 2 possition/timed changes for a nurse to do, one was a 6a-6p and the other was a 12 nn-12mn BOTH to work in conjunction with the normal 8 hour all day long staffing. These possitions took up the slack of those heavy shift change times, provided for better overall coverage in the even of something untoward occurring at shift change when they did the end of beging of shift rounds to be sure floor care was COMPLEATED, but the administration did not thing increasing 2 positions to 12 hours was cost effective, even if they were charge/supervisory positions but I thought it was a good use of ressourses (I wish I coud spell that word right)

just a thought, basically I think that they are BOTH good if used apropriatly, but I find if all #e!! is going to break loose, it happens most at 5-7a, 2:30-3:30p, or between 11p-12:30a

and we all have seen that


*** May we all have the serenity to accept what we cannot change, and the determination to change what we cannot accept. ***


I've worked both *'s and 12's. For hospital work, 12's are great. When I worked in ICU I worked from 5A-5P. It was better the usual 7A-&P. the night shift nurses like it alot too. better for getting home before school etc. I'm really spoiled now though. I'm a school nurse. We get M-F with all the same vacation days as the kids, plus our summers off. It's heavenly....

I work critical care 7p-7a and I love the 12 hour shift. Personally I would not want to work anything else. Not only does it allow for continuity of care for my patients but it lets me enjoy my career of choice and my life. I worked 11-7 and 3-11 for about a year and half, I was always tired and missed out on family functions because I had to work 5-6 days a week. (With our current nursing shortage that translated into 50-60 hours a week) On 12 hour shifts I work 3 and on rare occasions 4 days per week, then I'm home the rest. I've enjoyed nursing for my 40 hours and I get to enjoy LIFE the rest of the week. Also with 12 hour shifts we get 2 weekends a month off which is better than the every third weekeng I was accustomed to. I love it! For example I have worked 12 hours this Mon, Tues, and Wed and now I plan to take the kids to the beach for Thurs-Sun.

tntrn, ASN, RN

Specializes in L & D; Postpartum. Has 34 years experience.

This 8 vs 12 hours shift topic is an interesting one. In our Family Birth Center, a small unit doing about 70 births a month, some do 8's and some do 12's. It's a nightmare. There is no continuity of care. Getting/ report is a almost impossible because rarely does one nurse take care of one patient the entire shift. So what you get is a little bit of report from everybody who took care of that patient!. Deciding who's to be placed on census is always a puzzle. Scheduling is the worst. Most of us were hired to do 8 hours shifts. Now the "wonder girl" nurse manager (let's not even go there) is letting some people do 12's, usually when and where they please.

This is only one symptom of our dysfunctional unit, but it's typical of how mismanaged it is.

For me, 12 hour shifts are not an option. They are too long, I lose my focus at about 10 hours, I want something left for when I do get home. Figuring an hour on both ends, that leaves only 10 hours at home between shifts, 8 of which needs to be getting sleep. I wouldn't get anything done at home, or have any time at all with my family.


Has 36 years experience.

I was not a fan of 12 hour shifts because they left me too fatigued to enjoy any of the supposed personal benefits. Over the years, I've heard many nurses, as at this site, extoll the benefits of 12's, so I guess i agree with those that praise "viva la choice."

We've all heard the ANA's stats on average age in nursing. I wonder if older nurses tolerate longer shifts poorer? I think I did as I "matured". (I am forty-something now and went to nursing school right out of high school.) I also tolerated the sleep deprivation associated with nights more poorly as I aged AND I never tolerated that well at all at any age. Privately, many of my peers agree that floor nursing in general is a "young persons" endeavor, though obviously, with the average of nursing rising, many mature nurses are your respondents here. Frankly, I think this whole question deserves more than an interest survey response by nursing. Rather than just studying shifts in terms of nurse satisfaction, it needs to be looked at in terms of impact on nurse sleep cycle, error rates, attention early, middle and late shift, and how nurses of different age cope with the above parameters. Some interest needs to be shown to making shift work more worker friendly for an "aging" nursing population.

I have to agree with Molly assessment of 12 hour shifts and older nurses. I think it takes more of a toll on a person the older one gets. I also think 12 hour shifts are very hard on young moms. Can you imagine a young child not even seeing their mom for a whole day or maybe 2 in a row. That can happen with commute times, bedtimes, etc. I have even seen moms delay going home after a 12 hour day shift because they want the children to be in bed before they arrive home. They are so exhausted from a 12 hour shift, they don't want to face the demands their children would put on them if awake. That is a pretty sad scenario for family life.


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I have worked 8,10, and 12 hour shifts. The 8 hr shifts are the easiest to get through, but you have to be there more often. I think I have a better life with the 12 hr, 3 days/wk shift. It is hard to get through the last 4 hours, that's true. But it is easier to get through 3 days than 5.

Hello! I work two 16 hour shifts every week

at a pay rate of 24.oo/hr and this works very

well for me and my family. I have two small

children and love the extra time I have with

them each day. The last four years I have worked 10 hour days 5/6 days every week and hated the time they spent in day care. This way they go to daycare one day a week until 5 and spend saturdays with their daddy. I work on an extremely busy surgical unit so time flies. Mentally knowing I only work two days a week keeps me going during these long days and I don't feel my patients suffer. Just a new twist to the 8/12 hour debate. Happy Nursing!

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