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?

Specializes in ICU/CCU (PCCN); Heme/Onc/BMT.

Been doing 12 hour 7p-7a shifts for about two months. Get paid for 40 hours worth of work for doing 36 hours! This is cool, I guess.

Still though . . . I've been working the night shift (11-7) for years, and I find myself missing them! It's hard going to work at 7pm. Even though I only work three scheduled 12's/week, during the days (nights) I work the 12 hour shifts, it's nothing but sleep, eat, s**t and work. . . this is not fun!!! Do enjoy having four days off/week, though!!!

Still haven't decided if I'll keep doing 12 hour shifts. I guess I'll give them a couple of more months.

Ted Fiebke

I have done 12 hour shifts for 11 years and I do not like them at all. I put up with the horrible hours becuase I really enjoyed the area I was working (peds cardithoracic surgical ICU) but at age 47 I have hit my limit. I just can't do it any more.

Night shift was slightly more tolerble than days but made it impossible to have a life outside of work or do anything in the day time without severe sleep deprivation. And trying to switch from sleeping days to sleeping nights every few days may be ok when you are 20 something but I can't do it any more.

Day shift was totally exhausting and draining, no time to even sit down and catch your breath for the whole 12 and a half to 13 hours. and then floats or registry replacements were coming late and we never got out on time, plus I have a long commute. Getting up at 4 am and getting home at 9 pm is not my idea of an acceptable work schedule.

I was so tired all the time that I needed 2-3 days to recover and catch up on sleep for every shift worked and had no life outside of work and sleep. Those 2 extra days off were worthless to me because I spent them catching up on sleep. Plus I had several recurrences of clinical depression during that time and my doctor kept recomending I find work with better hours.

Well I am trying now and not having much luck, been out of work 7 weeks, No hospital within a one hpour commute of my home has anything but 12 hour shifts in peds, PICU or NICU.

It looks like I am going to be forced to change specialties to something I know I will not like just to get an 8 hour shift.

But at least I will be able to sleep regular hours and have some time to exercise, take better care of myself and do errands the same day as I work and actually have 2 full days off when I feel rested. That never happened when I was working 3 and 4 twelves a week, I rarely had more than 2 or 3 off in a row and I never felt rested.

Another one of my pet peves was the frequency with which people were alowed to do 24 hour shifts. There is no way they were alert enough to take care of critically ill infants, and as team leader I felt reponsible for making sure that the patient wasn't neglected. I would refuse to allow any nurse to take care of me or my family beyond a 12 hour stretch, it's just not safe. The risk of mistakes is too high. But my former nurse manager didn't even want to hear my concerns. "Just be happy you got staffed" was all they would ever say.

The nurses doing the 24 hour shifts reminded me so much of trying to get the car keys away from a drunk driver, kept insisting they were "fine" when it was obvious they were not.

All you people who "love" 12 hour shifts...check back in about 20 years and see if you're still so crazy about them. I'd be willing to bet that most of you are under 40.

I worked a year doing 7pm to 7am shifts on a very busy, understaffed med/surg floor: no more twelves.

If you work a twelve-hour shift through the night (like 7p-7a), it takes you the entire next day to get rested up and even then, you feel like crap -

I honestly don't know how I did it for a year!

We were frequently scheduled for 3 12-hour shifts in a row. There's really no point in going home; you may as well stay at the hospital and go to sleep in an empty bed, because all you do is work, go home and sleep, then get up and come back to work.

I finally had my fill after a year, and went PRN.

No way will I ever do another twelve.

The other night, I was scheduled for eight and they called and offered me DOUBLE-TIME to come in four hours early, and do a twelve. I did, but it wasn't worth it............I felt like crap the next day.

Doing eight (11pm-7am) is a breeze. I am not tired the next day and it doesn't totally disrupt my sleep schedule.

The last four hours of a twelve hour shift; I am virtually brain dead and my body is so worn out that I can barely function - forget about a good report..........I can barely remember what happened......the beginning of the shift seems like soooooooooo long ago. I do not get nearly as tired from doing an eight hour shift, and I know I am providing safe, quality care - I can't guarantee that with a twelve. Sometimes, people even do doubles......I don't know how.

I'll never work twelve hour shifts again.

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