12 hour shifts too long?

Nurses General Nursing


Are 12 hour shifts too long? I have seen many nurses getting burned out at 8 hours. Does the level of care decline when nurses are working 12 hour shifts?


6,011 Posts


For me it did. Plus the fact that most 12 hour shifts I worked turned into 14 or 15 hrs with a 1 hour commute each way. The "advantage" was said to be 4 days off one week 3 days off the next. After 8 it seemed everything went into slow motion including brain function.


117 Posts

Are 12 hour shifts too long? I have seen many nurses getting burned out at 8 hours. Does the level of care decline when nurses are working 12 hour shifts?

I don't think so. I don't think I'd even be able to finish everything in 8 hours anyway. For me, it's as much effort to drag myself in for 12 hours as it would be for 8, so I'm very happy with 12.

-Julie in NYC

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho.

I work 12's and have for some time (years), but for me i love them. I dont feel burned out. Now if i had a commute,, i wouldnt even think about it. No more than a 15 min drive for me if that.

I feel that working a 12 gives you more continuity of care with your patients. You're there 12 then come in the next day 12,, then off 2, etc.. gives me plenty of time to know what is going on with my patients and not have to rush through things.

It's much easier if most of those on your shift do either one or the other. I have to admit, its hard to watch people leave at 3 and you have another 4 hours to work,, but i still enjoy the days off in between

Still Riding

200 Posts

I think it depends on the person. I liek 12 hours, because I have lots of energy and I always have. That way i can have more days off.

but to each there own


245 Posts

I love my 12 hour shifts. I work 6am-6:30pm (we don't get paid for lunch )usually I am out of there by 6:45 at the latest. I do self scheduling I used to love to do 3 in a row at the begining of a week and 3 at the end of the next week and have a 7 day strech off. Now with my daughter i don't like to do more than 2 in a row but I feel like I am not at work all the time. I am raising my daughter I am with her 4 days a week. I can't beat that. even though I work 36 hours a week it ALMOST feels part time because I have 4 days off a week.


222 Posts

Specializes in OB.

I agree that it depends on the person... and where you work. I also self schedule, but I work every other weekend and I work in a super busy department, so I never felt like I had any time off when I did 8 hour shifts. It got to the point where I didn't even want to be at work anymore and I was always in a bad mood. Working 12 hours, 3 days a week changed that. We went to 12 hour shifts about 6 months ago. 12 hours is a long day, but being able to have 3 or 4 days off is well worth it. Plus I have the option of working overtime if I'm not too tired to add an extra day. Nursing is a pretty tough job as it is. And for me, working 3-12's as opposed to 5-8's a week is great.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,495 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

Sometimes 8 hours isn't enough, and I appreciate the extra time. Since I've gone to 12 hour shifts, I don't see personally where it's affected my patient care. It gets a bit long when you've had a bad day at the 12 hours is really 14.

Gompers, BSN, RN

2,691 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

Twelve hour shifts are the best! There's really not a whole lot of difference, once you're there, to stay an extra four hours. What DOES make a difference is only working 3 days a week as opposed to 5. By the 8th hour of a shift, usually you've "got your ducks in a row" so the last four isn't too bad.

There are a few people who I work with that shouldn't be working 12's, and most of them realize it and work 8's. Usually the nurses closer to retirement feel better working shorter shifts, and those with medical problems. The people I see really burn out on 12's, though, are those who try to do them on NO SLEEP. They'll be up with their kids at 6am, stay up all day, and then come to work a 7p-7a shift. Of course they're going to be burned out!!! Usually people are fine though.

The best thing is the continuity. I work in an ICU, and it's wonderful to work three days in a row and follow another nurse who works three in a row, and have the same patient assignment. Not only does it make report much easier, but it's great for the patients and their familes. I can think of many weeks where I cared for a really sick baby, 1:1 ratio, and followed the same nurse every day. Think about it - 3 days, 72 hours, and the same 2 nurses. That is EXCELLENT care. The familes especially love it because they take a lot of comfort in knowing that the nurses "know" their baby and they're also not dealing with tons of different people. The docs like it too, because they know we've had the continuity and they seem more trusting of our judgement when we say something has changed with the patient.

zacarias, ASN, RN

1,338 Posts

Specializes in tele, stepdown/PCU, med/surg.

I don't mind twelve hours and I agree with everyone that 12 hours often allows you more time to get certain things done. I try not to stay late unless I absolutely have to. It's just not a healthy habit to get into.

The problem I see is they've schedule me for 5 12s in a row in a couple weeks. Ouch, I don't know if I want to do that...


168 Posts

there is no way in heck i would go back to working 5 days a week. when i work 8 hour days i feel like thats all i do and have no life outside of work. i love my 12 hour shifts....i feel like i have so much more time with my son.

But i too think it has to do with the person and their sitiuation, 8's just dont work in my life.

LPN1974, LPN

879 Posts

I worked 12 hour shifts on a part time job for a couple of years, in addition to my regular job. I did it for the money, but after 2 years I got burned out.

I lived close to the NH I worked at, so it didn't take me but just a couple of minutes to get home. That made a big difference.

On my regular job, I work 10 hour shifts, 4 days a week and off 3.

I love it. I have more off time, and can get more done in 3 days than I ever would in 2. It's great.

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