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Should I start out on night shift?

Posted

Hi all! I am about to graduate, come on May 12!!! And I'll be taking my boards this summer. I've heard a lot of conflicting opinions among my classmates debating whether new grads should start out on night shift or jump into days. What do you think?

~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

I personally feel like days is the better choice for the type of learner I am. But you will get just as many conflicting opinions here. With pros and cons for both. Also depends on what kind of unit you are starting off on.

AgentBeast, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology and ER Nursing. Has 7 years experience.

New Grads should take whatever job they can get.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

New Grads should take whatever job they can get.

Exactly. Get some offers before you agonize over which position to accept.

As PPs have said, you might have to look at what offers you can find. That could very well be night shift; seems like night shift positions become available more often, as nurses with more seniority/experience often desire day shifts. You can get good experience in both, you might have to just try one out and see if it fits!

wyosamRN

Specializes in ED, OR, Oncology. Has 6 years experience.

I'll give you a firm maybe. Be leery of places that want to train you on days, then kick you to nights when off orientation. Many places seem to end up with all the new nurses on night shift, and that is a big problem. While you might have to take what ever you can get, if you have a choice, pick a hospital/unit that tries to keep some experienced nurses on the floor at all times. I currently work ED in a place that tends to have a whole bunch of new grads on the med/surg floor at night, and it is down right scary at times.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

I'll give you a firm maybe. Be leery of places that want to train you on days, then kick you to nights when off orientation.

That's a lot of places. I'm under the impression that employers want to avoid paying shift differentials to trainees. And in some cases, floor orientation is combined with classes that are only held during the day.

~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

That's a lot of places. I'm under the impression that employers want to avoid paying shift differentials to trainees. And in some cases, floor orientation is combined with classes that are only held during the day.

A lot of places actually won't pay differentials to people on orientation even if on night shift. I was surprised to find that out. Then again I found out some hospitals don't pay their PRN nurses any more than their FTE employees. My local hospital doesn't. It was the first I heard of that.

Oh and to the OP, obviously yes as a New Grad if jobs are tight you take what you can get. I assumed that was a given and you were wanting feedback on the variances between learning on night shift vs day shift.

Apply as many places as you can, to keep your options open. Night shifts would not be bad to work and you would probably have a better time gaining seniority as there would be less competition for shifts. Also be mindful of the fact that you should not be put in a charge capacity (even after a set number of weeks of orientation), just by virtue of being a new grad. Nights shifts = less nurses = more chance you will be asked to fulfill this role.

That's a great question! Personally, I started out on night shift and it has worked out great for me. Typically, nights are not as chaotic as days (depending on the floor or department I suppose). During days there are so many things that can disrupt your workflow. Doctors pulling you aside or changing orders in the middle of your med pass, patients needing to go to any number of procedures or tests because every department is open, more visitors and family, etc. None of these things are inherently bad, but when you're first starting out they can be a little overwhelming, especially when you're first learning the role and figuring things out. Don't get me wrong, nights can be pretty busy as well but, at least for me, it provided more time to ask questions, try different workflow routines, or just have time to stop and think for a second. And the differential isn't too bad either ;).

JerseyTomatoMDCrab, BSN

Specializes in med-surg, IMC, school nursing, NICU. Has 8 years experience.

I tend to agree with PPs who stated to be aware of how many new nurses are on nights. You are fewer resources on night shift and you definitely want to make sure you are working with some experienced nurses so you have support and expertise on your side.

That being said, don't let the shift deter you from taking a job. Job offers are scarce for new grads. I worked night at my first job and was VERY fortunate to have a team of seasoned nurses who were welcoming, excellent teachers and great support during those scary first months. I am still friends with all of them and I cannot speak highly enough to how important they were in shaping me into a better nurse. I liked nights because I was able to learn the flow of the floor, policies, charting, order systems and so on without the stress of family members, management, auxiliary staff and attendings breathing down my neck. I also needed the money to get started on those student loans ;)

I took the shift I was offered.

Half of my orientation will be on the day shift (according to my manager, this is to learn where my resources are and to learn how to handle everything that tends to happen more often on days), and then half will be on night. My shift is a night shift. My hospital likes to start new grads on nights because, according to them, it's less chaotic, so the new grad has more time to dig into the charts and put two and two together. There is a good mix of new and seasoned nurses on my shift, which is relieving. In fact, I'm not allowed to take extra shifts for 6 months if my mentor or preceptor isn't on the floor on that shift too.

Edited by Purple_roses

I got 5 job offers, 4 for nights and 1 for days for new grad positions. I ended up taking one of the night shift offers. I felt like I was most supported by other staff, the manager knew her stuff, and that said if I was someone that couldn't handle nights (who know, I'm a new grad), then she would change me to days. Take what you can get, but don't take a job JUST because it is a day shift offer either.

chacha82, ADN, BSN

Has 3 years experience.

If you are offered a full-time position at a facility you like and it is on nights, yes, accept it. Especially if you are interested in that type of nursing!

foggnm

Has 8 years experience.

If you have the option and you don't want to work at nights, then no. Learning wise being on days as a new nurse is better. It is typically much busier and you learn more about patient discharge, care planning, procedures, etc. Things are more typically done 'by the book' during the day since management is around, so you learn policy. I can see no advantage to nights unless you actually enjoy night shift. I have heard a few new nurses say they like the slower pace of nights, which is fine. Really depends on your personality and what you want over the next few years.

~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

If you have the option and you don't want to work at nights, then no. Learning wise being on days as a new nurse is better. It is typically much busier and you learn more about patient discharge, care planning, procedures, etc. Things are more typically done 'by the book' during the day since management is around, so you learn policy. I can see no advantage to nights unless you actually enjoy night shift. I have heard a few new nurses say they like the slower pace of nights, which is fine. Really depends on your personality and what you want over the next few years.

Exactly! I have done both. I oriented as a new grad on nights on a pediatric burn/step down and reg. peds unit. Then I switched to the ER and had only been a new grad for 4-5 months but they didn't consider me a new grad. I started on days.

Night shift was great for many reasons, but at the end of the day I felt like I saw and learned a lot more on day shift. I've worked in many hospitals and all shifts (in ER we have mid shifts as well) and it's been the same as far as learning is concerned. That's what I am speaking on, strictly the learning experience between the 2 shifts.

That said I am the type of learner that likes to just jump in. I like my preceptor to be tough and honest and I rather be pushed and allowed to start to drown, but not sink. That's what I had when I oriented in the ER. I knew my preceptor wouldn't let me drown but she would let me come close and I learned so much from it.

CCU BSN RN

Specializes in CICU, Telemetry. Has 7 years experience.

This is a highly personal decision, so, YOU have to decide.

Night Shift:

Pros: Less busy, Fewer interruptions, Fewer tests/diagnostic imaging/field trips, Fewer consulting MDs present all asking you questions and having different priorities, Fewer PT/OT/family member/meals/housekeeping/bathing shenanigans. Staffing is less but in theory, in an ideal world, some of your patients will be sleeping and not want to be disturbed, plenty of time to read chart/orders, more relaxed learning environment, less help means you get put in senior roles earlier in your career, so you might be stressed but you'll become competent at an exponentially faster rate

Cons: Decreased mental acuity, permanently messed up sleep schedule, early demise (if you believe the research), hard to get attention for patients routine concerns with cross-covering MDs, feeling like all you ever do is sleep and work, etc.

Day Shift

Pros: Happens during the day, normal sleep schedule, actually cognizant of having 4 days off a week. Needs lots of coffee but doesn't feel like a zombie. You can get so much accomplished for patients in terms of developing a plan, getting the orders you need, facilitating interdepartmental communication: and when that all goes off without a hitch (rare), it is an AMAZING feeling. You are superwoman. YOU made a difference.

Cons: Coveted positions, must develop high tolerance for BS, high tolerance for family members and their educational/emotional needs, must deal with glucose checks, insulins, and making sure everyone doesn't need a 5th dinner tray because she didn't like the first 4 meals she chose tonight.

Overall, it's about which of the above sound more appealing to you. It takes all kinds.

If you have to take it to get a job, do so. Just get your foot in the door. If you just can't hang after 6 months ask for days or apply elsewhere for a day shift position.