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


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by TovaFlynn TovaFlynn (New) New

I think that your work ethic, times when you are most alert, and how much or what type of effort you intend or need to put into the job determines the number of hours you work. Patient care in any form is challenging today. I personally would not recommend more than two 12 hour shifts at a time or more than four 8 hour shifts in a row. The two 12 hour shifts are particularly good if they are all you are required to work in a week, because those shifts give you the flexibility necessary to attend to other important priorities. It's been my experience that more than that, you'll spend your first day on your days off recuperating. My personal shift preference hopefully would help to preserve good nurses in direct patient care, and reduce the likelihood of chronic illness from work related trauma.

Thanks everyone on your feedback with the 12 hour shifts. I am a new graduate and will be taking a position that will be two 12's and 2 8's weekly. Unfortunately, they don't offer 3 12's in this unit. How does everyone feel about the split of the 8's and 12's? I will still get an extra day off during the week.

Hi Tova, I've worked both 8 and 12 hour shifts and I prefer 8. I did 12's for 6 years and finally was exhausted from working the telemetry unit I normally work and then getting pulled to the ICU for the last part of my shift! That is what exhausted me and then decided to do 8's. It works out better for my new family. Hope this helps you out.

Hi Tova, I've worked both 8 and 12 hour shifts and I prefer 8. I did 12's for 6 years and finally was exhausted from working the telemetry unit I normally work and then getting pulled to the ICU for the last part of my shift! That is what exhausted me and then decided to do 8's. It works out better for my new family. Hope this helps you out.

I have been working 12 hours nights for a couple of months now. I don't see the exhustion for the last few hours that some have mentioned in the past, but i really think the whole discussion is a prefrence. I am young, just out of school and love my job but don't want to give up being young for the sake of my career. 12 hour shifts give me the opportunity to have a life outside of work. Fortunatly my body has taken well to nights, i get home eat and go to bed, get up eat and go back to work. I prefer to do my three days in a row with nights because i can have a normal "Day" life on my days off.

I personally like 12 hour shifts better. You work your three days and are sometimes off for a week. you get to spend more time with patients.

Hi, I think all shifts have their advantages and disadvantages. I work M-F, 11-7. The advantages are that I can sleep while kids are in school and can make Dr. appts etc when needed and go to school events during the day. The disadvantage is you either sleep most of your Saturday away and start feeling human again on Sunday, or try to stay up and sleep "normally" over the weekend which can really mess up your hours. I think 5, 8 hr shifts in a row is a little too much and 4 would be better.

I have worked 12 hr nights and really enjoyed that because we were off as much as we were on, got plenty of rest and things seemed to run a lot smoother with all shifts. In addition we didn't have as many "call-ins" then as we seem to now.

I was in nursing for many years and have worked many shifts. The one I preferred was the 10 hours. I worked 4 10/hr days a week. It always (seemed in my time) that we never got off in 8 hours and the extra 2 hours you never minded. Also it gave an overlap of shifts where you could help each other out, if there was a problem. Also another option was 7 days 10hours and then 7 days off. (No vacation time tho) When I worked the 12 hour shift-I worked the 7P-7A and liked it because you got to know the patient before they were down for the night. Also the busy time of the day was the 7A-7P shift. What I didn't like about the shift was that when 7P came the early shift wanted to leave exActly at 7 with no overlap even tho it was supposed to be 6:45A to 7:15P and the late shift 6:45P-7:15A. The late shift at the hospital didn't get a break, so we actually worked 12 1/2 hours.

Originally posted by TovaFlynn:

Hello. I am a Columbia University student nurse. Some of my classmates and I are preseting a debate as to whether the 8 or 12 hour shift is better. We are hoping to hear it from you - the experts! Please let us know which shift you prefer and why. Tell us what you think are the pros and cons of either or both the 8 and 12 hour shift. Even if you prefer one to the other, and you think there may be something to say (be it good or bad) about the shift you don't prefer, please let us know! All information will be presented at the presentation. If you don't or do want your name disclosed, please specify. Thank you so much for participating. : ) Tova, CUNS

Twelve hour shifts were just too long for me. I found that they were extremely exhausting when I was sick, when I had a patient that was giving me the blues, and when I was just having a day from hell, in general. I, also, learned that if you did call in sick, you would be assured that 12 hours would be missing from your paycheck or you'd have to use 12 hours of PTO. Finding someone to change days with you was hard, too. It was rare for you to just have a 12 hour shift. You don't get off work until the paperwork is done and after you've given report. It seemed like right before shift change is when a patient would pull out their IV/SL, need their diaper changed, or code. I rarely got off work on time. I could tolerate 8 hr shifts better physically and mentally. My patients would often say to me "You have been here all day" and "I don't think that's safe" or "I couldn't work a 12 hour day". Don't even think about having anykind of partaking of a holiday on a 12 hour shift. Be thankful if the company remembers to give you a dinner!

Totally agree with Palpitations. You really have to be a nurse for a while and see what we mean. Plus if you have a family 12 hrs, which often =s a lot more if you work in a unit, is more than 12hr. That doesn't even take travel time into account (many of us commute.) I don't know how many nights I almost killed myself driving home after a "12" really 13-14hr shift. You fall asleep and drive off the road--when it happens more than a couple times a month, you really have to start to worry. I'd rather do 8 hour shifts, that way, the job takes up only a third of your life or really day/night, instead of 1/2 of your day/night. Eights are easier to fill for switches and emergencies. You get better rest, and you do get to enjoy more of holiday with your family. If you are a family person, and getting over 25 yofage, I stongly suggest eight hours. It's not like we are residents and may have a chance for rest/sleep time when all is settled. We have to keep going. It gets to you after a while.

After 23 years I have worked an interseting combinations of all sorts of shifts. I too found that different shifts have worked better at different times and situations in may life. When my 3 girls were real little I found that the 12 hour shifts or a combination of 2--12 and 2--8 worked best. My husband had more slack to pick up when I worked but the extra time off meant that the house was cleaner we actually had good meals at least 3 days a work instead of soup and sandwiches, carry out or those special 20 minute meals all working moms have in the cupboard and freezer-mine was chicken parmesan using bottled spaghetti sauce and tyson chicken patties. It was easier to get to the doctor dentist etc and my husband discovered he still had a wife cause instead of falling a sleep as soon as the kids were in bed I was better rested and able to stay awake a little longer at least a few nites aweek. I just left a job that was Monday thru Friday 8-4:30 with call on the nite shift and weekends This meant several 50-60 hour weeks and working with no sleep after being there all nite. This was getting more difficult to do as I have gotten older. I am back to 12 hour shifts 3 days a week--One daughter is married and the other 2 in high school and I am sort of looking forward to having the extra time off during the week--it has already paid off in easier to make dentist, doctor and orthodonist appointments. So I have mixed feelings about all shifts they all have their advantages and disadvantages and you have to look at your own situation to decide what is better for you.

I agree that there are pros and cons to both 8 and 12 hour shifts, but having worked both, I would not return to 8s. I worked 3-11 on a busy ortho/med-surg unit. We worked every other weekend-and trying to squeeze in 5 shifts a week-->you had to wait 2 weeks just to get 2 days off in a row. It seemed that since we'd get slammed with postop patients, it would be change of shift before I'd be able to sit down and chart. And that would be another 2 hours, meaning a 10 hour shift by the time I was done. Then, the unit allowed us to work 12s if we could find a "partner" so as not to make scheduling too difficult with mixing 8s and 12s. I figured-what's another 2 hours? We worked 3 days one week and 4 the next. This worked well-and I enjoyed 3-4 day stretches off! Then-I took a job in L&D where 3 12-hour shifts is considered full time. Working 12 hours-I find I am rarely late getting out. And I do agree 100% with the other viewpoints re: continuity of care! Often, it is the same nurse I am giving/receiving report from on a given patient. Things rarely get missed anymore in the shuffle!

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