A 12-hour shift as a nurse is a grueling and exhausting experience. But with this type of schedule, we also get to do other things outside of work for a more extended period.
Personally, my passion for helping others drives me as a nurse, and I am grateful for the freedom it gives me to spend more time with my family when I’m not working. I wouldn’t have that luxury if I stuck to a regular 9 to 5 schedule! And while this may sound great, I still want you to consider the advantages and disadvantages of working 12-hour shifts as a nurse before deciding to pursue one. Here are some insights that you may benefit from.
Pros of working 12-hour shifts
Flexible working conditions
Nursing shifts of 12 hours provide for more flexibility in setting up work schedules. This will be really important to you if you’re also a parent like me who needs more time to be at home to spend time with the kids.
In addition to this, working as a per diem nurse will provide you with more flexibility regarding your workday. It doesn’t matter how many days a week the hospital requires you to work, I’m always pleased to do so (because I wouldn’t want to work more than two or three days in a row if I could help it).
Extra time to rest
4 days off, anyone? The number of required workdays for nurses who work full-time 12-hour shifts is reduced from 5 to 3. So each week consists of four days off instead of the normal two days. Who wouldn’t love that?! A shortened work week is something that virtually everyone would want to have at some point – including me.
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The amount of time spent traveling to and from work is reduced, saving both time and gas.
As opposed to the more typical Monday through Friday schedule, working three days a week drastically reduces your commuting time. Moreover, if any of those days fall on the weekend, there is a chance that you will not encounter any traffic at all.
Cons of working 12-hour shifts
You may feel that the days are long
The days can seem especially long when you work 12-hour shifts. It may leave us feeling exhausted by the end of the day. If that particular day is extra busy, the lack of time for breaks can make it difficult to stay focused. As much as you can, try to take advantage of your breaks. You can use your time off to rest and recharge.
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Our health may be compromised
As nurses, we are constantly on the go and this can actually have a significant impact on our health. Aside from backaches and holding our urine for long periods, working 12-hour shifts can lead to fatigue. This can compromise our ability to make sound decisions and react quickly in emergency situations. It can also lead to burnout, which can result in depression and anxiety.
Stress levels are increased
According to a study from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, longer shifts are associated with higher levels of burnout and decreased patient satisfaction. According to the research, burnout and job discontent are two and a half times more common among nurses who work shifts of 10 hours or more than those who work shifts of six hours or less.
If you’re considering a career in nursing, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of 12-hour shifts. It can be tough work, but it also has its rewards. And whatever shift you take, always make sure that you take care of your health. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever worked this schedule – I would love to hear about your experience!