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Nursing shifts: Is this fact or fiction?

Specializes in CNA/Nursing student.

Alright, I once heard a long time ago that a nurse can choose between 3-4 days where she/he works 12 hour shifts and has the rest of the week off or a normal week day schedule of almost everyday normal shifts. Is this true? Is there such thing as long shifts with minimum days, or is that just not true? I niether believe this is true/false, just wondering if what I heard was possibly true. I also have been looking at what the hours look like on Indeed.com, and have noticed 12HR under shifts, and I wonder if that applies to the above statement or something else completely. Thanks:nurse:

dthfytr, ADN, LPN, RN, EMT-B, EMT-I

Specializes in ER, Trauma. Has 30 years experience.

Varies a lot by facility and department. Most places I've worked required 3 twelve hour shifts per week, either 7a-7p or 7p-7a. Beyond that anything goes. One had a 2 on, 2 off schedule, some add in an 8 hour shift every other week to total 80 hours per 2 weeks, lots offer other hours to cover peak hours in the ER like 9a-9p, 11a-11p etc.

Studies pop up from time to time saying 12 hour shifts aren't good for patients, but most nurses prefer 4 days off per week, and hospials seem pretty universal in their love of 12's.

Three twelves a week. If you are lucky you will get a manger who will let you make your own schedule, tweek it, approve it, and post it. I like making my own schedule. Eight hour shifts ...3 per week = 24 hours....5 per week = 40 hours per week. I even had an opportunity to work 4 hour shifts so nurses who did not want to work 12 hours while other nurses who wanted to work 12 hours could. The sky is the limit. Get the school done ...then worry about the shifts. It might change in the near future. Good luck.

Edited by nurse.sandi


Specializes in NICU. Has 14 years experience.

Yes, a schedule of three twelve-hour shifts per week is a common full-time schedule for hospital nurses.

At my hospital and many others, we do self-scheduling, which means that we submit the days that we would like to work for the upcoming month. There are some rules about the minimum number of weekends and holidays we have to work, but outside of that, management can usually accomodate our self-schedule without too many changes.

Some places use matrix scheduling instead of self-scheduling. I don't know a lot about that, but basically, it involves working a set schedule rather than one that resets every month. While you don't pick your days, you know months in advance if you have a conflict and need to arrange a switch with a coworker.

Flexible scheduling can definitely be an advantage of working in nursing.

LoveMyBugs, BSN, CNA, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics.

Yes and about any variety you can think of.

I worked in the ED and there would be about 4 RNs who worked 7am-7pm, plus 3 CNAs, then another RN would come on for 9am-9pm, then another for 10am-10pm, then at 11am, there would be 3 more RNs and 2 CNAs to work 11am-11pm for when the ED would really be hopping.

There were a variety of how people were scheduled, as a CNA I worked every Tues/Thurs, plus every other weekend. When I did my preceptorship I follwed my preceptors schedule which was a sweet one, Wens, Thurs, Fri, one week then Thurs, Fri, Sat the next week.

Where I am at now, I am scheduled 8 hour shifts, but many times these 8 hours turn into 10-12 hours trying to get everything done.

taalyn_1, CNA

Specializes in CNA.

I have a friend that works two 16 hour shifts then an 8 hour shift each week and thats all she does. 40 hours, and 4 days off/week. not too bad really.


Specializes in Med Surg.

In my part of the country we usually work twelves on a 3-2-2 schedule. Thats three days on, 2 off, 2 on, three off, two on, two off, then start over. The threes ar always Fri, Sat, Sun. Adds up to 84 hours every two weeks. If you are on days it's great. On nights, it's a killer.

Some of the LTC's around here work eight hours on a four on two off schedule. Take a look at a calender and see how few weekends you would get on that!


Specializes in LTC/Rehab,Med/Surg, OB/GYN, Ortho, Neuro.

My facility works 8hr shifts, Mon-Fri for 6-2 and 2-10, and 10-6 (what I work) is 4 on 2 off (comes out to getting a Sat/Sun off every 6 weeks). It really sucks. Because of the way my schedule fell, when it's my weekend off, that's my short payday (64hrs), I ususally get 72 hrs, rarely 80.

When I worked in the hospital (7p-7a), I self-scheduled. I worked 6 on then had 8 days off.

all depends on where you work. my entire facility is based on 12 hour shifts. my UNIT has a manager who allows us to fill out a calendar where we request the days we would LIKE to work for the whole month. of course, she has the final say. so, if there are too many people requesting a certain day off, vica versa, then someone isn't going to get that day they wanted - but for the most part it works out especially bc there are so many people who don't care which days they work. i never fill it out bc it doesn't really matter to me, but even STILL i don't get scheduled for more than 2 weekends per month. obviously if everyone chose MTW so they could have every weekend free that's not going to be granted - UNLESS there are an equal number of ppl who request to work weekends ONLY which isn't likely. if there's a day you REALLY need/want off then you go a step above filling out the "community schedule" and fill out a request/form for time off. it will be granted, but PTO kicks in.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 40 years experience.

Yes, 12 hour shifts are true. Most hospitals are based on 40 hour work weeks. By law a facility on 40 hour work weeks are not requiresd to pay overtime until the worker has worked over in the individual week. Enabling more creative scheduling like working 2 16 hour shifts for 32 hours and being off the other 5.



the hospitals around here mostly work 4 on 4 off, 12 hours shifts. They also rotate from 0700-1900 and 1900-0700 respectively as I understand them.

loriangel14, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

Yes there are places where you can work 3 12s and have 4 off a week. The hospital that I work at has gone to a mixture of 8s and 12s. It was confusing at first because there would be nurses coming in at 0730, some are on a 8 and leaving at 1530 hrs and some don't leave until 1930. You would have some 8 hour nurses leaving at 2330 and some coming in at 1930 and staying until 0730.So at 1530, 1930 and 2330 you will have a partial shift change due to 12h shifters and 8 hr nurses working together.


Specializes in LTC.

Where I work we are all on 12s. I work night and work 3 on 4 off. I work thurs, fri, sat. The other 2 night shift nures work 2 on and 5 off. The day shift has rotating schedules with every other weekend off. I was offered a rotating schedule but declined it bc I don't mind working weekends. However when my daughter starts kindergarten (preschool is only 3 hours a day) then I WILL be requesting the rotating schedule (so I can have some weekends off to do things with my family). For now though working weekends works for me.