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That Dreaded 3-11 Shift

Nurses Article   (53,158 Views 58 Replies 630 Words)

TheCommuter has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

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Many hospitals and other types of healthcare facilities made the conversion from 8-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts many years ago, mostly due to difficulties staffing the 3-11 shift. This article will discuss the 3-11 shift and other random issues surrounding shift work for nurses. You are reading page 5 of That Dreaded 3-11 Shift. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

royhanosn specializes in psych, general, emerg, mash.

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we voted going to 12H shift. Enjoyed it! The days off were better. 3-11 was good becuase you did not have the ego's of management interferring.

One of my patients, a hard-nosed nurse who retired from the profession after more than 30 years of duty, struck up a conversation with me not too long ago about shift work.

"What hours do you work?" she interrogated. Her New Jersey accent was notable, especially considering the fact that southern drawls are the most common intonation in the geographic region where I live and work.

I replied, "I work from 6 o'clock in the evening until 6:30 in the morning."

She chimed, "Those are hard hours, but they seem a hell of a lot better than the 3-11 shift. I worked the 3-11 shift back in the days when all TV programming would cut off at midnight. Once midnight struck, all of the channels would repeatedly play the instrumental version of the Star-Spangled Banner. Nowadays cable TV has shows and movies 24 hours a day."

"I used to work the 3-11 shift," I added. "In fact, I worked those hours at my very first nursing job after graduating from school. Personally, I wouldn't go back to working that shift unless I was about to become homeless."

"You crack me up," my patient laughed. "I got off that shift as soon as possible. It took up most of my afternoon, all of my evening, and part of my night. I was glad when the hospitals finally went to the 12-hour shifts."

This recent conversation got me thinking about shift work. Many hospitals made the conversion from 8-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts many years ago, primarily because of difficulties maintaining adequate staffing on the 3-11 shift. The main issue with going back to 8 hour shifts is keeping the 3-11 shift covered because relatively few nurses like to do it full-time anymore. This shift is simply not conducive with family life, especially if one has school-aged children. In addition, many childless singles (myself included) do not particularly like this shift.

To be fair, there are people out there who absolutely love working the 3-11 shift. Moreover, some nurses contend that they cannot handle 12-hour shifts due to fatigue during the last four hours. Also, a study or two has implied that 8-hour shifts are actually safer.

12-hour shifts have their benefits because they eliminate the need for one additional shift change per 24-hour period. This may improve continuity of care since errors due to skipped information are reduced as the result of two nurses receiving report in a day instead of three. Likewise, many nurses prefer 12-hour shifts because they enable one to have up to four days off per week. Besides, 12-hour shifts may help to simplify staffing at healthcare facilities because only two shifts need to be covered instead of three.

I now work 12-hour shifts because I prefer them since there's no way I'd want to be at the bedside five days per week. Anyhow, I was never able to establish a routine while working the 3-11 shift. If left to my own devices, I awakened at noon, slowly got ready for work, worked the shift, then arrived home sometime before midnight and watched television or did mindless internet browsing until 4am before settling down to go to sleep. I was able to create a solid routine when I worked midnights (11-7am) or days (7-3pm), but my time largely went to waste when I worked evenings.

In summary, many healthcare facilities went to 12-hour shifts for specific reasons that revolved around their struggles to staff the 3-11 shift. Countless nurses love 8-hour shifts and many others are fond of 12-hour shifts, so it would be ideal if facilities devised a happy medium to satisfy all parties.

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tntrn has 34 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in L & D; Postpartum.

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3-11 was my favorite shift. NO WAY would I work 12 hour shifts. And personally, I am very leary of those who are working 12's taking care of me and mine, especially if they have had several in a row (I would consider that 2, because lack of sleep is a big factor.)

I would barely be able to get myself home safely, never mind do meds correctly. I loved it when my kids were little because I had the whole day with them before I went to work, and could a LOT done. When I had to go to days, after my kids started school, I could get 7-3 shift done, but never had any energy at all do get anything else done after that.

And I did work full time. I did 6 on, 3 off, 4 on, 1 off for years.

And when my kids were grown and gone, I went back to 3-11, although worked per diem, not full or part time.

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nursej22 has 30 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in med/surg,CV.

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Have worked 3-11 many years, but never more than a .7 FTE. I used to love it, but no longer.

Gone are the days when 7-3 did all the discharges. We do at least half of the dc's as well as many transfers off to allow for admits and transfers in. We have a mix of 12s and 8s, and the 12 hour days feel they should not have to take more than 1 admit a shift (I'm still working on my last one) and the 12 hour nocs do not want to take admits because "they haven't seen all their patients yet".

I am so tired of this shift, but am not a morning person and ended up on antidepressants when I worked nocs. And as many posters, I just physically cannot do 12 hour shifts.

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437 Posts; 4,513 Profile Views

Not anymore. Admissions are 24 hr per day and discharges are 7am until 9pm sometime. Have worked 3-11 a long time. Works out better for my home life. Next choice would be 7p-7a. Day shift is just crazy with all the doctors, patients going here, there, and everywhere etc. No thank you to day shift.

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chevyv has 20 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Gero Psych, Ortho Rebab, LTC, Psych.

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I love the pm shift! I've worked pm's part time with two children and have always liked it. I don't have to set my alarm, rush around in a fog, and fly to work. I get stuff done, dinner cooked for the family, and still find some time for walking the dogs. It's quieter and there is less management mucking up my shift!

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2 Posts; 555 Profile Views

Many years ago I worked the 3-11 and found it conducive to my life. I got home showered, went to bed at a decent time, 1 ish; and was able to be up by 7 and go about my day. I also worked the 11p-7a and hated it: Day people can be merciless, if you know what I mean. I've also worked the CNA 7p-7a and, ugh, I was whipped the first day off after shift; nothing ever got done around the house. Now I'm looking at a PCT 3p-3a Friday to Monday; and as I am still a BSN student I can sleep through first class at 8am (lol). We'll see how it goes.

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43 Posts; 2,582 Profile Views

I worked 3-11 for a year and hated it. Like REALLY hated it. I have no kids and live at home with my mom and sister. I worked Monday-Friday. The best part was I didn't have to work weekends. I couldn't stand always waking up alone and coming home and everyone was asleep. I felt like I never saw any of my friends, cuz most of them are not nurses so they worked regular office hours. I could never fall asleep early enough or wake up early enough. I have worked every 8 hour shift and I honestly feel like 3-11 is the absolute worst.

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laKrugRN specializes in Cardiac, ER, Pediatrics, Corrections.

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I am actually looking forward to the opportunity to work 3-11. 8-5 is what I work now and it's okay. I just hate never being able to get to the dentist, sleep in, etc. I think 3-11 will be a good change for me. At least I can handle it until a 7-3 opens (Ha years)

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ArtClassRN has 8 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Med Surg.

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Would love a 12-hour shift, but idiot management is trying to get rid of them. So when a 12 hour days RN leaves, they replace with an 8 hour Day/Night position. Which was simply torture when I did it.

At least the dreaded 3-11p shift allows you to get a good 5 or so hour block of sleep at the same time every night.

I'll take 3-11 over 11p-7a any day.

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CaliRN215 has 3 years experience and specializes in Medsurg.

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I've only worked the 11p-7a shift since my first nursing job (almost 3 years now) and still have a hard time getting sufficient rest/sleep. I am single with no children. Thank goodness I'm a .7 FTE and am able to get enough rest on my days off to replenish the lack of sleep when I work but there is no way I would be able to function as a full time nurse with NOC shift hours. I also found myself having less energy and therefore have gained weight from lack of exercise and bad dieting (eating my first meal of the day around 1pm, then dinner at 6pm, snacks at work for lunch around 2-3am, and 1 large coffee for my drive home). I used to pretty active before working nights but now I'm lucky to get into the gym once a week! (Hello to my first ever muffin top! :( ) On the positive side, NOCs is an easier shift to work; no discharges, only 1 admission per shift, and I can honestly say that we have the best teamwork and camaraderie among all the other shifts which make it a lot easier to come in at night....I literally have never worked in a hospital where EVERYONE genuinely likes each other and gets along so well! I'll be transferring to PMs the beginning of next year and am looking forward to getting my much needed rest and concentrating on getting healthy again, although I will be very sad when I leave my coworkers whom I've gotten so close to these past few years . On the brighter side, I still get a pretty hefty shift differential working 3-11p, but now I have the new challenge of multiple discharges, admissions, and transfers. I guess when looking at the bigger picture, PM's is a way better shift for me because it allows me to live a more normal life instead of in an intermitted state of zombie-ism.

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firstinfamily has 33 years experience as a RN.

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I have worked both 8 and 12 hour shifts. I started out working 11p-07:00 and loved that shift, I was usually home by 08:00 and could sleep, when we had children I would get up in the afternoon and have an early dinner and return for a nap before going back in. When the 12 hour shifts started (19:00-07:00) I could no longer get that evening nap and by 01:00 I was ready to go home with another 6 hours to go. When we moved to another area in the country only 8 hour shifts were available and I worked 3-11. I liked the shift because I was home in the morning to get the kids on the bus and could do a few errands. What I didn't like about 3-11 is all the clean up that had to be done left by day shift and before night shift came on. It was almost like we were the ones taking all the admissions and doing all the discharges all the time!! Now that I am older I really look for 8 hour shifts, I do not feel we are very productive much past 8 hours. There were problems keeping the 12 hours shifts staffed from 7p-11p and 3p-7p. It seemed there were always staff shortages during those times. I do believe safety is a huge issue and there are several articles that elude to this. Yes 12 hours are better for patient continuity, but not for patient safety. I will take 8 hours over 12 any time, even if it means I work 5 days a week. It would be nice if both 8 and 12 hour shifts were offered at the hospitals.

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