Jump to content

12 Hour Shifts--A bad idea?

Nurses   (8,452 Views 42 Comments)

ObstreperousYoungLad works as a Student :-).

673 Visitors; 11 Posts

advertisement

I'm currently a nursing student and things have been...interesting lately. After seeing nurses in my acute care clinicals and browsing this forum I've come to the conclusion that 90% (Yes, 90% exactly) of nurses are either feeling horrible, terrible and in some cases miserable.

And I often come across articles like this:

National Nursing News | The Fatigue Factor: Too Many Alarms, Too Little Downtime

So I have to ask those who work/worked 12 hour shifts: How do you feel about it? What is the experience like?

I'm sure a lot of it depends on what sort of unit one is on, but it seems dangerous to me for someone to work that long while caring for six or seven patients. It must take a toll on the ability to focus...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3,543 Visitors; 92 Posts

I think that 12 hr shift, just like any shift, has their ups and downs. I work 2 12hr shifts, and 2 8hr shifts where I work. The 12 hr shifts are rarely 12 hours- they usually end up being 13-14, sometimes 15 hours. Each day is different- even with a hard team though, knowing that you have the entire 12 hours with them can be a good thing as far as following through with orders and bringing continuity of care to your patients, and if you work 2 or 3 12 hr days in a row, you usually get your same team back, which is nice because you are familiar with them and you know what needs to get done, the patient trusts you more because they know you from the day before.

Pros: Continuity of care, the patient develops a relationship with you faster, usually (USUALLY) the charge nurse and other nurses who are just working 8hrs will go easy on you with admissions because they know that you are working a 12. You get extra days off during the week.

Cons: A 12 hour shift is rarely a 12 hour shift. You get physically exhausted. Rarely get to eat or take a break because you want to get out on time. Sometimes you can get sensory overload with mind numbing orders from the MDs who all show up for all of your patients between 1500-1700. Which again, puts you behind.

But I would rather work 12s than 5 8s!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

coolpeach works as a RN /MOM.

7,750 Visitors; 1,051 Posts

I am a new nurse, and I really don't like 12 hour shifts. Its very confusing because it seems everyone else I talk to loves them, and I want to love them too, but I just don't.

The problem I have is my shift is 12 hours, but I have to be there 15 minutes early and usually stay an hour late. Then its an hour drive time both ways. I work on a big campus so it takes 20 minutes to ride the shuttle once I park, and get to, and through the hospital to my station, and the same to get back to my car. So that's 16 hours in drive time, and work. That leaves me 8 hours.

It takes me an hour to shower, eat, fall asleep, and an hour to get up, eat, say "Hi" for 5 minutes to my kids, and get my stuff together. That leaves me exactly 6 hours to sleep. Honestly I am a 9 hour a night sleeper so after 3 days of this I am a zombie.

I also feel very depressed because I feel I can't even see my son at all during those days. Sad, guilty, and depressed. I also have no life during those days except work, sleep. I can't talk to friends, family, play a game, watch the news, take care of personal business, or even think...just work, sleep, work etc.

I walk into work and think I just can't do this another night. I spend my first day off just exhausted and drained, and my last depressed because its all going to start again.

If I worked 8's at least I could come home, unwind, help my son with his homework, go to his concert, or PTA meeting, watch the news, relax, think about something other than work, and go back a bit refreshed.

The problem is NO hospitals in my area offer an 8 hour shift.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

theantichick has 3 years experience and works as a Medical Informatics Nurse.

9,451 Visitors; 320 Posts

Well, I haven't experienced this yet as a 40-year old. So things may be different for me now. But back when I was a paramedic, 12 hour shifts were my favorites. 8 hours was fine, but you had to work 5 of them. 12 hour shifts were just another 4 hours, but it cut the workday to 3-4 a week (we had 3 one week and 4 the next if you were on 12's). I found this in my paramedic clinicals too.

What was absolutely too long in a metropolitan EMS, especially with reduced staffing for cost-cutting measures, was 24 hour shifts. We rarely got sleep, and were out driving a 2-and-a-half-ton metal box, AND executing ACLS protocols usually dead exhausted.

Of course, I was 20. :) I'll report back in 6 months after my first semester in nursing school how things are now. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

backinwonderland has 1 years experience.

1,283 Visitors; 32 Posts

Personally I love 12 hour shifts. On my unit all nurses work 12's and fulltime is 3 shifts per week. I work permanent nights, so I always do 3 nights in a row, then get a good chunk of time off. I find that once I get into the swing of things after the first night, everything schedule-wise runs pretty smoothly. Of course it sucks if you've had a crazy/ridiculous night and you have to stay late for charting or something and then be back at 18:45 for your next shift, but overall it seems to work the best for me.

I think it depends on how your body reacts to that amount of time spent working though, and what your life is scheduled like (my co workers who have a lot of other commitments or are primary caregivers in their families have a harder time because the shift is basically your whole day).

Good luck with everything!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ObstreperousYoungLad works as a Student :-).

673 Visitors; 11 Posts

Yeah, I suppose I could do it if was only 3 or 4 days/week. Coolpeach, you have my sympathy. Hopefully as time goes on things will get better for you. I guess I better just keep hitting the gym and trying to eat right to prepare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
advertisement

Bella'sMyBaby works as a MDS Coordinator.

9,484 Visitors; 340 Posts

My previous Employer started mandating 12 hour shifts for the Nursing Staff.

It was an absolute Disaster.

And trying to find last minute coverage for a call-off was a Nightmare.

Older Nurses were complaining that they could not do 12 hours.

I'm thinking that we lost seasoned Nurses because of this. :twocents:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ObstreperousYoungLad works as a Student :-).

673 Visitors; 11 Posts

My previous Employer started mandating 12 hour shifts for the Nursing Staff.

It was an absolute Disaster.

And trying to find last minute coverage for a call-off was a Nightmare.

Older Nurses were complaining that they could not do 12 hours.

I'm thinking that we lost seasoned Nurses because of this. :twocents:

Ouch! Yeah, maybe I'm just a rotten, lazy, entitled millenial, but I think it's absurd to force someone to do a 12 hour shift if they're not up for it. I wonder if European hospitals have this issue as well. That article I posted said that "the likelihood of making an error increased with longer work hours and was three times higher when nurses worked shifts lasting 12.5 or more hours. In addition, working more than 40 hours per week significantly boosted the risk of error."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Crux1024 works as a Emergency Department Case Management.

15,853 Visitors; 985 Posts

I love my 12 hr shifts. It enables me to work only 3 days a week. I get lots of family time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RNDreamer works as a Nurse.

15,643 Visitors; 1,237 Posts

I work 3 days a week, 12 hour shifts. The latest I have stayed past my shift is 20 minutes. I love it and would not remain in hospital nursing very long if they were taken away and I was required to be at the hospital for 5 days a week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SummitRN has 5 years experience and works as a ICU.

2 Articles; 30,012 Visitors; 1,501 Posts

The most miserable thing you can do in healthcare is go to work 5 out of every 7 days.

Edited by SummitRN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ObstreperousYoungLad works as a Student :-).

673 Visitors; 11 Posts

The most miserable thing you can do is go to work 5 days a week.

Yeah, that's an interesting thought for me because I've grown up with my parents doing just that and I've always thought of it as the norm. I've always associated 3-4 days/week with my teenage jobs in retail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×