Why 12 hr. shifts???

Nurses General Nursing


I would like to return to working in a hospital setting but what I've noticed about most job opportunities is that they are always for 12 hour shifts.

After having already worked 12 hrs before on a med/surg floor, for me, these shifts nearly KILL me. My mind and body shut down after 8 hours and those extra 4 or 5 hours are especially taxing when I am so worn out. I burn out quickly. Having two extra days off each week is little comfort when I know that it will take two days just to recuperate.

As a single mother of two it will be difficult to find daycare and after-school care for my children.

My question is, why aren't hospitals offering 8 hr. shifts as an option? Perhaps part of this nursing shortage could be resolved if nurses had scheduling options.

I've also wondered why more hospitals aren't offering on-site daycare? Most nurses are women (duh), many are single, and inevitably, many have children.

Any thoughts, comments or solutions?

I will agree with you that the 12 hour shifts are long :)

At my university, we take a staff management class. It seems that the reason so many hospitals are going to the 12 hour shifts is that it is much easier for management to schedule 2 shifts a day, instead of trying to coordinate 3. Many nurses also enjoy having 4 days off a week, instead of 2. For me, i prefer the 8 hour shift because, like you, i get burned out quick.

My hospital that I will be working at once I graduate in May 02 offers child care.. they JUST started this program because of an employee petition. The only condition is that, if you choose that your children attend the "child clinics", then you children can be used as test subjects for training screeners, mostly for the Denver Developmental Screening Tests, and they also take part in other studies. Nothing harmful, but if that bothers parents, they might not want to send their children there.

Consider starting an employee petition? Would you be willing to pay for this service, or would you expect the hospital to provide it? Write it down, and circulate it! Many things can be accomplished by collective bargaining :)

Good Luck!


Hello SUSYQ,

I have worked 12 hour shifts for 3 years. My coworkers and i like it better than 8 hr. Why because , we work 3 days and get 4 days off. I like spending more time at home even if im tired the 1st day off, and i start school soon so 8 hours is really not an option right now. I have been fortunate to have my husband here when i am not, to take care of home. I hope you find what you are looking for . :)

There is alot of reserch been done in to 12 hour shifts in nursing and it is inconclusive but her are some of the Key points that the RCN (Royal Collage of Nursing) has showen in their publication "shifting patterns"

some nurses may be physiologically unsuited to 12 hour shifts.

shifts should never exceed 12-hours

each 12 hour shift should be followed by at least a 12 hour continuos off duty. with a maximum of 3 12 hour shifts in a 72 hour period.

wher 4 12 hour shifts are worked on consecutive days a break of at least 60 uninterruped hours off should follow.

There are some nurses who love the shifts and the extra time off but we found it difficult to cover shifts for sicknesss and we were not able to ask nurses to stay on at the end of a shift as they were too tired.

12 hour shifts have been showen to have protentially serious health and other problems due to sleep deficieny

I work in an inviroment where we have a number of shift patterns to meet the services and staffs needs. the core shifts are 8 hour with some staff doing 10 hrs, we then have part time staff who can do 4 hour or 5 hour shifts at busy times to help this fits in with the services needs and family needs of the nurses.

The UK already has a shortage problem and shifts is one of the problems but there are many more reasons why nurses leave nursing.

I am part of BIN There ( back injuried nurses) discussion group which has been set up by an American nurses and myself. we are both BIN There nurses and Anne my friend says that she feels her employer look on nurses as a disposable commidty when it came to protecting them from injuries due to heavy lifting. If one gets injuried get read and there are lots more. May be that is why they are not worried about burn out from 12 hour shifts, or looking into family friendly policies. Why not come and look at BIN There its on http://www.phli-e-slid.com by the way phli e slide gave use the space they have no input into it is is for nurses to use and take and support each other where ever in the world you are.

Hope to see some of you there

sorry should have read

http://www.phil-e-slide.com I missed the e when typing :rolleyes:


have you worked 12 hour shifts? because i would in noway work 12 have a day off then work 12 have a day off. 3 years ago the hosp. took a vote on 8 hour shifts or 12 hour shifts. all the nurses went for 12. some work 2 - 12s a couple days off then another 12. some work 3 straight. me i just worked 5 straight. when you work 12s at night it is no different to us , we still sleep as usual and work as usual. the only difference is night and day. our hospitol loves the 12,.:D :D thanks alicia

No I can only do 8 because I now have a disablity due to an injurie at work and 8 hrs is all I can cope with. Yes some people love 12 hrs I have friends who do but it is not the whole hospital just units that way nurses have a choise of working the shifts that suite their needs and the services still runs.

most of the nurses in our hospital want 12.5 hour shift, but management is very against it, i just left a floor to go to another with 12.5 and i'm here to tell you i will never work 8 hours shifts again!!! . as i was tellin someone on the golf course the other day, while enjoying my 3 days in a row off, no pto time used, working 5 days a week is for suckers! if we ever go back to 8 hours i will leave the hospital i am at, even if it means losing my seniority and a pay cut.


I like others have have just recently quit a job for 12 hr shifts! I am currently working at a facility that has 8 hour shifts only, because the the union requires the facility to pay over time for the extra four hours of the 12 hr shift. I end up work long stretches, 6 to seven days and because many of the nursses with seniority work and were hired when the institution did twelves continue to keep their twelves. I find that I am called a lot to do 12hrs anyway on top of the rest of my 8 hrs. I too have two small children and I look forward to having four days off with them. I also work nights and many times get one night off and have to turnaround and go back in. When you work nights one day of is a joke!!!!

I think that all hospitals should be more flexible for the individual nurses wants and needs! Just my opioin.

Have a good day! Good luck to you


i work 12 hour shifts as well and love them. i would not go back to 8 hour shifts. actually i want to go to grad school but one of the things that is holding me back is that when i graduate my employer will probably want me to work 8 hour shifts 5 days a week. aaaaaaaaaaaaaah

originally posted by phantomrn

i work 12 hour shifts as well and love them. i would not go back to 8 hour shifts. actually i want to go to grad school but one of the things that is holding me back is that when i graduate my employer will probably want me to work 8 hour shifts 5 days a week. aaaaaaaaaaaaaah

thats the reason i won't go back fo my np

Just a thought--12 hour shifts are perfect for hospitals. It means they can hire fewer nurses, and there fore pay less salaries and benefits--

I have worked 12's, and really had problems with them. Best I ever worked was 10's--from 12:30 PM to 11:00PM, 4 days a week.

Don't think I will ever go back to 12's, especially not 12's at night. That was an unending nighmare for me!!

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