Why shift diff nights when days are so busy?


I've worked nights for 7 years and only recently switched to days. How many times at night had it gotten a little busy and the nurses complain about the day people : "they think all we do is sleep." The night diff at my hospital is 5 bucks an hour, plus the extra shift bonus is 50 dollars more--200 rather than my 150.

So I went to days. Now for less money I get families, nutritionists, case managers, social workers, doctors, multiple orders that need to be done now, CT and X-ray calling to tell me to change the order because they can't do the exam for reason #12; every manager in the hospital all over the staff, etc etc. Yesterday I had 3 discharges at the same time, and in walks my direct admit for chemo with a portocath that didn't work. A half hour before shift change, here comes my ER admit and a heavy ICU transfer at the same time. The thing is, this is a normal Monday.

And for working my butt off I get less money. I've worked hard at night, sure, but that was my choice. I will testify that the bulk of the night people at my facility put on the ipod at 11:00 and sit reading, or surf the internet, or sit around visiting. A lot of free time in between calls. Unheard of during the day. So my issue is, why should nights be more money? For staying up? I think it's crazy given the workload that nights are given so much more. Obviously I'm going back to nights after the holidays.

Just a consideration, to give money to those who work hardest.


8,343 Posts

Has 18 years experience.

It comes down to nights and evening and weekends are considered "unsociable hours" and a lot of people don't want to work them. Hence the premium pay. Personally, I love Fri, Sat, Sun, evenings and nights because we pick up two premiums for working those hours.

Days are hot, hard, and horrible at times. But when things go bad in the later part of the evening and night you have to work pretty damned hard due to the lack of NA, reduced nursing staff and most of the residents being in the ER.

allnurses Guide

Spidey's mom, ADN, BSN, RN

11,302 Posts

I really think it depends on the facility. The rural hospital where I worked had 3-3 shifts. Nights was slower. For all the reasons you posted plus, we have times of 3 to 4 patients and 2 nurses. The max is 10 patients, 2 nurses and used to be one CNA.

I worked nights and days during my orientation 9 years ago. I went back to work after my last son was born and worked nights, thinking it would be better for my family. There were times when I ran the entire shift but for the most part, nights was much slower where I worked. We didn't do iPods but magazines and books were read, the internet was surfed, tv was watched. Then all heck would break loose with a mom in labor, a full ER, no OB nurse available, the floor full of confused and combative patients . . . . :uhoh3:

Now, as I said, there are other facilities where night shift is extremely busy.

But there is something to be said about working nights and avoiding all the things you mentioned.

This doesn't have to be a "flame fest" . . . . it really is possible that in some facilities, night shift is slower than day shift.


TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

Day shifts tend to be the most desired working hours, because they're typically more conducive to family and social life for most people in society. Therefore, numerous nurses willingly accept less money to work full-time days in exchange for being with their families or friends during the evenings. The trade-offs include less money, a busier atmosphere, and incessant interruptions during days.

I've been told by a crusty old factory worker that "Day shift is good for your social life, but night shift is best for being at work."


1,174 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology, Oncology, Medsurge.

Consider this day person, night folks spend their first day off sleeping, whereas you can go out and about enjoying your day off. Tired albeit, but even still able to function in daylight hours no problem. We spend our day off sleeping off a hang over of 3 nights straight.

I am very busy at night (most if not every night), sometimes I am not able even to take a lunch break ;-( And I agree with the poster who stated that night folks are difficult to come by. Agreed, your typical Monday sounds like hell on earth OP!

Perhaps we as nurses should be earning more period for the work we do and not have to lash out at others with shift differentials. Let us negotiate for higher wages when were negotiating for a posisition at another hospital, eh?

Quickbeam, BSN, RN

1,011 Posts

Specializes in Government.

OP, I ask this with no ill intent...why did you switch to days?

In my experience there is usually a reason. And that reason relates to why nights makes more. Nights/off shifts interfere with life. I worked nights for 10 years (8 hour nights). At one job I worked 23 nights in a row since they couldn't find help. I couldn't get a day off. One hospital paid me out my vacation 5 years in a row because "we can't find a replacement for you". I almost missed my brother's wedding because no one would cover my shift.

At the hospital I worked the longest (pediatric), we got more admits on nights than days and evenings combined. No RT/ unit secretary/help of any kind.

When I made the decision to move on to community health (Monday through Thursday 10 hour days), I took a 20% pay cut. I don't resent that at all. I've got prime hours, can have weekend getaways and a social life. The trade off was worth it.

Don't let yourself resent something you can't change. As long as it is harder to fill off shifts, they will pay more.

Specializes in Neuro/Med-Surg/Oncology.

Working nights disrupts your life outside of work more than days and less people want to do that without it being worth their while. Your sleep is never the same quality. Your circadian rhythms are all off.

The other thing with nights is that you have fewer resources. You have more patients, the aide/pca has more patients. There's no lift team. Fewer respiratory therapists, no one working in central, no secretary. So who does the stuff that these folks normally do fall on? Yep, the nurses. If someone is spending large amounts of time on the computer, sleeping, listening to music, etc. on a regualr basis corners are being cut somewhere. There's just no administration to catch them.

Specializes in LTC, Med/Surg, Peds, ICU, Tele. Has 15 years experience.

There's lots of evidence that working nights is physical harmful to a persons's body, and that nightshifters die at a younger age. I work days now and my family says I'm less cranky and just nicer! OUr differential is only $3, so I'm impressed with yours!


80 Posts

Specializes in ER then CVICU now.

When I worked night shift, day shift was much worse off in terms of the work, but I felt like a walking zombie all the time. My eyes felt like I had sand in them, all I did was sleep, I had no life and I was very cranky. After personally experiencing that, I've come to learn that night shifters deserve every single extra penny they earn.

EmmaG, RN

2,999 Posts

Let's see...

I've worked nights for over 20 years now. I come in at 7p and hit the floor running, and don't stop to sit down until 2-3am (if I'm lucky...) Then it's chart checks and paper work out the wazoo, all the while jumping up repeatedly to put out fires. (night shift has always been inundated with paper work and clean up, because it's assumed we have the time--- after all, all we do on nights is eat bonbons and surf the internet, right?)

And you know all those people surrounding you on day shift? The ones you can simply walk up to and ask for assistance? The ones who will help you extinguish those sparks before they become a raging inferno? Well, while I'm working they are at home sleeping. I'm expected to take care of these issues on my own or with the limited resources available in the middle of the night.

This is a 24/7 job; patients don't stop having crises when the sun goes down. And as much as I've tried telling them they aren't allowed to be in pain, or go septic, or develop respiratory distress, or bleed out, or code, or [whatever] until the sun comes up... well, that just doesn't seem to work.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

I've worked all three shifts in acute care, and day shift was the toughest by far. Like another poster said, you get families and other visitors, MDs, surgeries, 'suits', PT/OT/ST, meals, phones, order changes, and all manner of hassles........and all for less money.:stone

That said, there is NO 'easy' shift in a hospital---night shift has its own challenges AND fewer resources, and evening shift tends to combine the worst of both days and nights.

That's why I'm happy to be the director of health services position in a small ALF. No nights, weekends, or holidays, and I call the shots on what kind of residents we do and do not take, therefore I have some control over my stress levels. :up: I may not make the kind of money I once did in hospital work, but the savings in terms of my mental and physical health more than make up for it!

Lorie P.

754 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surge, Private Duty Peds.

:lol2: i sure would like to know how someone can surf the net, listen to ipods, etc, etc ??

i work 11-7 because that was the only shift hiring at the time. i only get 1.75 for shift diff, rn's get 3.00 and unit nurses 5.00 . no big bucks in our facility

i usually have 8 pts each and every night, it never fails that i have bs going below 70, with pulled out ivs, copder's having anxiety attacks, 5 needing to go the the bath room at night.

8 assessments to do and chart, chart checks and sign off, compare the cml's to the next days mar's making sure nothing was missed, colonoscpy, egd's heart caths and whatever else needs to be done.

tons of paper work that 1/3 is triple charting because that is policy. only 4 nurses for 28-34 pt's, 2 techs, and maybe if we are lucky a huc to do all that other paperwork that management says has to be done.

yet, day shift arrives at 7;00 not 6:45, takes their time, and yet every night i work, i hit the floor running and don't get a chance to sit down till after 4am, almost never get a lunch break and heaven help me if i have to stop to go pee!!

yet, i can not move to a day shift job because the upper dudes that sit around in offices have desided that no lpn's can be moved to a day shift position because they are soooooooo busy and the rn has to do the admission assess.

yet, at night i have to pick up any admissions that we get, cause we only have 2 rn's and one of those is charge nurse, who isn't suppose to take pt's.

see the list goes on and on and on. yet day shift will have 6-7 nurse, only 4-5 pts each, 4 techs and huc and sometimes 2. so yes, it gets to be frustrating and tempers fly when asked " what was pt in room 450's 16;30's bs?

i could go on but what good would it do?? can't change the unchangable can i??

now off to sleep so i can repeat last night, tonight !!

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