New Grad Programs - Do they not tell you what shift you work?

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Is it common to go into a new grad program, with a contract, and not know what shift you will be working? Or is this a red flag?

Sounds crazy right? I accepted a residency and was told that I wouldn't know the shift till I started. They said it was most likely nights, but they're not sure yet because they're still hiring people and trying to get things in order. They did ask me my preference, but there's no guarantee. This is one of the many things that I hate about nursing; wish I would've know this early on. 

@Hopeful RN I am in disbelief by it - this is a second career for me, I used to be in recruiting and human resources, and I totally regret switching. You are literally a widget in a hospital as far as how they treat you. I do not want to work night shift, I have a autoimmune condition I am working on regulating, so I am at a loss right now. Since they have us sign a two year contract I am afraid I will have to pay back for training if I get the night shift and chose not to work it. 

This is ridiculous and would have been neither expected nor accepted up until relatively recently.

This sort of maneuver tells you the ethics of the potential employer right off the bat. Pay attention.

Remember that anything you are told during interviews or when being given information about these "residency" programs is non-binding unless it appears in the contract you sign.

It is unbelievable that an employer would boldly expect a new professional to sign a contract without even knowing the most basic information about a job.

I feel for you all. This is why they wanted experienced nurses out of the hospitals--so they could introduce new lows many of us would not have accepted.

Make smart choices. The hospital is not the be-all end-all of nursing. 👍🏽

bitter_betsy, BSN

Specializes in Emergency / Disaster. Has 2 years experience.

As a newer nurse - this is now normal.  I was just hired into a new position for night shift, and come December I will be on day shift.  I do not sleep at night and this is a huge problem for me.  It is what it is and my options are quit or suck it up and wait until there is a spot on the shift I want.  Apparently someone who was already there moved into the night shift position that was open and I had to take the position they left.

My first job out of nursing school was in a residency program.  I had no idea what shift I was going to work until I completed the first 16 weeks.  They decided at that time who was going to day shift and who was going to mids and nights.  We got to put in our request, but ultimately they picked for us depending on their needs at that time.

Having also come from the corporate world - this seems unacceptable.  It is however how things work in the non-union world here in the South.

ClaraRedheart, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 7 years experience.

It's what they do. If it makes you feel any better, you can usually switch after a few months to a year. There is usually someone willing to trade for the other shift. I found that night shift for starting nurses was good for me because the pace allowed me to get my charting in better. That being said, I didn't sleep well in the day so had to switch to day shift for my mental health. 

When I was hired into my hospital job I was told the shift up front. When I tried to inquire about the process for transferring to days the manager ghosted me. I should've took that as a red flag because as soon as I started I learned there was a waitlist. 

When I transferred to the clinic I was notified of the hours at the interview and then confirmed at the job offer, and transfer date. They were tweaked a little bit but the manager warned me about it earlier. She's still trying to tweak them even though I don't mind. 

lpag789, BSN, RN

Specializes in OB/Perinatal.

I was fortunate that during my interview, I was asked which shift I wanted. When I received my offer later, it told me exactly which shifts I'd be working when (days while on orientation then the requested permanent night shift once off). I would feel very weird about not being told what I was working beforehand. 

Thank you all for your insight!  I have held my ground regarding wanting day shift simply because I need to advocate for my health as I will be for my future patients.

I feel like not being able to commit to an employee about which shift they will have, or not even taking into consideration their needs from day one of employment is a huge red flag. I am happy to read the mixed replies- seems like for new grad programs they expect you to be happy with whatever you get; if that is the case I will open myself up to non- new grad roles. That mentality does not sit right with me, especially with a contract involved.

All these replies are so helpful as I continue to seek employment; I will ensure to ask better questions moving forward. Thank you all - the nursing community on this site is everything ❤️ Stay safe, healthy and happy out there

Edited by newnursewhodiis

3 hours ago, newnursewhodiis said:

That mentality does not sit right with me, especially with a contract involved.

Yes, that makes it all the more unacceptable.

To all of you new/newer nurses, think carefully. The line from employers has for years been that there is a massive nursing shortage. That schools need to pump out nurses because of the terrible shortage. Now in the past months to a year or so, it seems that hospitals are actually having significant trouble getting/keeping staff, to the point that nurses with some experience are able to sign travel contracts for higher pay as you've probably been hearing about.

If they were not trying to take advantage of you, now would be an excellent time for hospitals to look to create healthy relationships with you all, as the newest generation of nurses. That is what they should be doing--not pretending that you still need them more than they need you so that they can make sure you start off your careers at their mercy and are conditioned to accept horrible treatment and be ready to work according to their every whim and preference.

The contracts aren't doing anything other than getting you on the hook to pay them if you don't like their ways.

As for the shift issue, there is zero reason that they can't figure out how many nurses they would like to hire/for which shift, and do that. They just don't want to.

AJcardiacRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology, dialysis, progressive care, telemetry. Has 8 years experience.

I find this unbelievable. When I got my BSN, I was hired for my first job before I even graduated. I was told exactly what my base pay was, shift differential, schedule, everything. I am a little suspicious of these residency programs for this reason-- why on earth would they not even be able to tell you what shift you'll be on. They should know what their staffing needs are and what positions they are hiring for. 

I just recently started my first RN job back in January, and I was hired for a new-grad residency program. All of the new grads (or anyone without experience, for that matter) started with the same base pay and had the same differential available with an expected raise at one year (the exact number eludes me, but I believe it's partially performance based). I was told my orientation would last a total of 6 months -- 3 months for the new grad orientation, chock full of classes and SIMs, and another 3 months of orientation on the unit. I was also told that employment was probational until a performance review following my orientation completion, and I wouldn't be eligible for for benefits until I was "officially" hired. I found out the week I started (from another new grad, mind you) that the residency program had been cancelled and my orientation would now be 12 weeks. I was essentially expected to fit all of the 12 weeks worth of classes into my days off, and complete my orientation in half the time. The only positive was that both my benefits and my formal employment start date would occur 12 weeks earlier (meaning I'd be eligible for my first pay raise 3 months sooner). I had to really push to get all 12 weeks of my orientation and I was expected to take a full assignment right out of the gate, despite having no prior healthcare experience. I was one of the luckier ones. I'd made peace with the fact I'd probably have to work nights for the first year, but I had colleagues who were promised a certain shift and then were promptly scheduled the very opposite shift. Instead of management literally just switching the two, they were told "too bad." Both quit soon after.

I would say the only accurate information I gleaned from my interview was my compensation and shift. If they aren't able to provide you the very basic details of your job, definitely look elsewhere. It's only going to get worse.

Edited by YouCanCallMeFrank