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Should Nurses Work for 8 Hour or 12 Hour Shifts?

Registered nurses used to work for 8 hours per shift only. But times have changed and nurses now work 12-hour shifts.

There are many reasons why many facilities and nurses favor working 12 hours, but those who advocate for 8-hour shifts contend that there is a lack of effectiveness and safety for shifts that go longer than 10 hours.

Here are some considerations when creating your nursing work schedule.

Regardless of what the nurse’s schedule may say, there are many times when nurses work overtime because of patient needs or staffing demands. When this happens, then nurses have no choice but to work past their scheduled end of shift. There is no work-hour policy for registered nurses in the US. Perhaps the schedule states a 12-hour shift for a nurse but many times they work more than 13 hours.

Errors can result because of the strain of long shifts. The likelihood of errors is increased when nurses work longer hours.

You don’t expose yourself to injuries or burn out if you follow an 8-hour shift. Nurses who work long hours can suffer from workplace injuries due to sleep deprivation and slower reaction times as a result. Research has shown that nurses who work more than 10 hours will more likely experience burnout.

With the medical nurses provide, we can see their importance to a patient’s life. Without nurses, patients may die from a lack of medical attention and care.

patients will experience less turnover if the nurse work on 12 hour shifts. A tired nurse who has to work overtime will not be able to properly take care of her patients.

Long shifts can impact nurses’ health negatively. If a nurse works longer shifts then her workdays will be fewer and less time overall commuting to work. More flexibility is experienced with longer shifts. You can have longer time at home if you work longer shifts. 8-hour shifts mean that staff can be home for several hours a day. Four-day weekends are given to nurses who work for 12-hour shifts. 12-hour shifts also mean flexible scheduling for your nurses. Absenteeism is reduced, retention is increased, and morale is boosted.

You can work easily with longer shifts if you are the management. It only take scheduling two shifts a day. There will be varied with start and end times with shorter shift. Both staff and management will find it confusing. Use an employee clock time to help keep track of employees’ work hours.

Each organization will have a different nursing shift. The considerations given above should help you think about how shifts affect your staff, your patients, and your bottom line.

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