2nd shift vs. 3rd shift

  1. I searched around on the forums but couldn't find anything that answered my question specifically. To give a little background I am a new nurse that has been working at an inpatient psychiatric facility for the past 8 months. I started out on 3rd shift. I really thought that I would enjoy this shift because I would be able to get up early during the day and get the things I needed done and have somewhat of a social life. Also I have always been kind of a night person. After working for a few months, it became much harder to sleep and I had to take medications to fall asleep. I sleep much more than I used to and just cannot find the energy to get up early. I never have much energy anymore. I believe the worst part of working third shift is there is hardly any patient interaction, nor is there a lot to do. I specifically joined nursing for the patient interaction and being able to be involved in the patients treatment, and I don't feel as if I am accomplishing much working third shift. I was thinking about going to second shift. It would be great if any of you vets could give me a little insight into the pros and cons of both shifts. Thanks.
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    About kennybania, BSN, RN

    Joined: Apr '12; Posts: 26; Likes: 16
    Registered Nurse; from US
    Specialty: Mental Health-BC


  3. by   Meriwhen
    I personally love second shift: I don't have to be up at dawn for work, I still have several daytime hours to get stuff done, and I'm a night owl so after work I've still got a couple of hours to do my own thing.

    The shift itself is also fairly smooth: MDs and administration are out of there (or on their way out) and most (not all, alas) patients will be in bed before the end of the shift. Any discharges on this shift are usually done early (any after 1700 are usually of the AMA variety). There will be admissions and the occasional fiesty patient or three...but at least there's more staff around than on night shift, which is often bare-bones because management is somehow convinced that all of the patients sleep through the night and there will only be one 5150 showing up

    However, my current lifestyle (read: children) doesn't really let me work it often. I like seeing my kids, and second shift can make that hard, especially when school ends just as I'm starting work. 15-23 can be hard on family/social life as well.
  4. by   BrandonLPN
    I know a lot of people hate 2nd shift, but I love those hours. If you don't have kids, it's perfect. If you like to go out at night, you can hit the town at midnight and then sleep in all day.

    Now, if we're talking about the actual work itself, I'd go with 3rd shift. When I work evenings, all I do is pass meds. On 2nd shift I'm the "med nurse" and the RN is the "charge nurse". On nights, there is no RN and I feel more like a "real" nurse. I'm the one doing the assessmnets, calling the doctor, making the decisions? I also like being able to help my CNAs more on 3rd. I have enough time to work side by side with them.
  5. by   302queen
    i work 3rd shift and i love it i am always busy however i work on a acute intake unit so it's a bit different the weekends can be intersting lol. i occasionally pick up ot on the hospital floor unit thats usually 2nd shift and i don't like it i feel like i should be asleep lol but the money is good so it's worth it.
  6. by   scrubwearer
    I have a horrible time sleeping in the day so second shift is great for me. I can sleep in and sleep at night. I did third shift at an MR facility and pretty much spent my day sleeping or trying to sleep. Now I work 3-11 and usually get up early enough to study before work and do any errands I need to do before work as well. I like that the patients are still up and we can be pretty busy with admissions and pt's acting out but for the most part it's busy without being extremely busy. I feel like I have enough time to get everything done and still interact with my patients.
  7. by   WantAccel.BSN
    Well, I work 12s, and I am often bored to tears a few hours after the patients go to sleep. It stays pretty busy up until about 11pm, but third shift hours are booooorrrrriiiinnnnngggg.
  8. by   Mandychelle79
    I work second shift, would prefer third shift.

    Depending on the unit- I get to finish up the d/c that day shift didnt do, get to triage all the possible transfers ( no unit secretary to take the calls), our doc is there till 6 or 7 pm and then puts orders in from home, we take geri's so lots of sundowning behaviors, tons of admits and I take a complete pt load. Plus it is typically when the hospitalist make rounds for our transfer pt's h&ps. Oh and clean up any messes left.
  9. by   MimiLPN
    For Goodness sake, don't get yourself into the 11-7 shift... unless you're a night owl and really don't mind not sleeping at night! I worked the 11-7 for 7 months in a psych facility... it's boring, little patient interaction, little clinical experience, and on top of all that, it's a burden on your body, your mind, and your social life. DON'T DO IT!!!
  10. by   nicholaa2
    I think it depends on your hospital. I work in an "acute care" hospital and this is the difference for me evening vs. night:

    The night shift on a "good night" means you have plenty of time to do pretty much whatever people do with free time. The patients are sleeping and you only have basic documentation and chart reviews to do.
    When things do get crazy, they get REALLY crazy and trying to admit someone at 3 in the morning if they aren't wide awake and manic is hard - especially since I'm on a gero-psych unit and the elderly have odd sleep times as it is.
    PLUS the elderly have tons of sundowners and often have nights/days mixed up and so they're trying to get out of bed, confused, etc.

    Evening shift = patients still awake and needy, families coming in and being demanding, doctors still finalizing rounds and writing orders, typically a MUCH busier shift for me - non-stop movement and very little "free time", admissions come up the most this shift and the evening goes a lot faster, but I am often feeling a little more frenzied at the end of the shift.

    I think however that if I could work evenings, I would - but unfortunately evening shift isn't a great shift for being a mom, which is why I have chosen to be a third shift nurse. I would love to sleep in late (still sleeping the night) and not have to be up for an early shift.

    OH - but the pay differential is always nice too... more money and overall less work, but as many have said, you run the potential of having a messed up sleep cycle and supposedly we "age" faster working nights.
  11. by   Sonque
    I personally have worked all three shifts. 7-3 to stressful for me. 3-11 I enjoyed but no family life and when you have children its not the way to go. Currently on 11-7 I too feel tired alot but push my self to exercise, do shopping, and I do participate in family things like baby showers and bridal showers. I come home go straight to bed and sleep before it and then after take a nap. I use a sleep mask and turn off phones to make sure I don't get uninterrupted. As far as pt. interaction I have a few pts that put in rough nights or need reassurance and I have the time to give them that one on one that the other shifts don't. I also find things to do like clean nurses station or disinfect medication carts. Little things mean a lot specially during flu season!
  12. by   ackiepieRN
    I have worked all three shifts as well and have found that 3-11 works the best for me right now. I always found day shift was WAY too hectic and had "too many hands in the pot." Sometimes I felt co-workers would overstimulate certain patients and leave me to clean up the mess because "I was the nurse."

    Night shift was brutal on my body. 4am would be the magic time that I would start to get stomach cramps and horrid nausea. I would give AM meds soon after 5 because GOD I NEEDED SOMETHING TO DO. ANYTHING. Of course, when things got bad on nights, I was really uncomfortable with a skeleton crew.

    So my only logical choice left was evenings! Sure we put out fires from first shift, take most of the admissions, deal with unruly patients & family, but you are more in control and self-sufficient on evenings. Pay differential is always a plus too, not as good as nights, but I'll take it.
  13. by   KaeMartin
    I guess I never think of 3rd shift as boring. I work in a small state Acute Care psych hospital. Our admits come in all hours and some discharges. And it's a rare night that ALL of the clients sleep. There's usually a couple of manic or psychotic folks up all night. Yes, a lot of paperwork gets put on NOC "because they're all sleeping and we're too busy." But I do like being the resource person for other staff and that we counsel, cry, talk and sometimes even have to protect someone from themselves. But really, NOC is the BEST shift to work.
  14. by   Orca
    I have worked all three shifts, but if given my choice, I would opt for swings. I have never been much of an early bird, and I am generally at my best during the evening hours. There is plenty of opportunity for interaction as you have the evening meal, visiting hours and a good portion of physician rounds.

    Night shift isn't for everybody. I hated driving home in the morning with the rising sun glaring in my eyes after a long shift. It's also tough to try to sleep when most of the rest of the world is at their time of peak activity. It isn't a natural thing to work at night and sleep during the day. That said, God bless the people who can do it and do it well. I'm not one of them.