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8 vs 12 hours shifts


Can anyone tell me why most hospitals have trended away from 12 hour OR shifts in favor of 8 hour shifts? All of the hospitals in my area hire for 8's (usually M-F with a wknd rotation about every 4-6 weeks). Most hire either 3-11p or 11a-7p (in my hosp it's called a flex shift which is used to cover the 7a-3p workers meals and breaks). I personally HATE the 8's as it is much harder to get any time off (when you work 12's you automatically have days off built into your schedule), is more days of commuting, more gas $, etc as I live 40 min from work. Yes, I know 12's are longer and more exhausting but I would prefer the extra days off. I requested a change to 12's or 7a-3p in my hospital but I fear it will take YEARS to get either and there is a long list of people looking to siwtch ahead of me and nobody is leaving...we just came out of a hiring freeze that lasted for many years. My hosp does not allow part time either. Any suggestions? Please don't tell me to be grateful for a job...I am. I just would like to flexibility in the OR that others seem to have on the floors...we are all paid the same...we are all nurses!


Specializes in OR.

Evenings shifts at my hospital, OR - 8 hour shifts, then on call for another 7 hours, if you work right through you appreciate that you have to be there only 8 regular hours, then are on overtime

In a busy OR, 8 hours is easier on the body than 12, we also have staff consensus to keep the shifts to 8 hours.

Have worked 12 hour shifts, and I prefer the 8's.

I think the reason why a # of hospitals have 8 hour shifts for OR is because the on call has to be covered

(We are a small enough hospital so we do not have a night shift in the OR)

canesdukegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management. Has 14 years experience.

This is an excerpt from the AORN Position Statement regarding safe work and on-call practices:

"Research also suggests that work periods of 12 hours or more are associated with a higher probability of making an error and an increase in risk-taking behaviors. For some cognitive tasks, peak performance is achieved at about five hours and then declines to its lowest levels after 12 to 16 hours.4 Researchers have further established a link between working extended hours and medical error rates. According to studies, the medical error rate tripled after workers performed 12.5 hours of sustained activity."

I have seen a steady reduction in 12 hour positions within the OR. Most of our positions now are either 8 or 10 hour shifts.


Specializes in OR Hearts 10. Has 13 years experience.

We still have a combination of 8's, 10's and 12's. Heart team is required to work 8's. We are so shorthanded that all new hires do 8's. I am first on the list for a 12 but will have to quit the heart team if a 12 hour shift ever comes open. Not sure what I will do if and when a 12 hr shift becomes available.

Most cases are done by 3, we can run 4 or 5 rooms till 5, then 2 rooms till 7. After 7p 1 case at a time unless emergency then call teams come in. Night shift 12's.