Personally, I love the night shift. I don’t like dealing with administration or scheduled activities, and holding hands with friends and relatives is not my cup of tea. I come in, do my job in a quite serene atmosphere, and leave before the drama of the day starts. On the other hand, a friend of mine who works the day-shift tells me the opposite works for her. She is a people person who doesn’t mind the hustle and bustle of the daily routine. She also enjoys the added security of having supervisors and managers whom she could rely on for support should she need it.
Nursing is one of those careers which is not bound by the 9 to 5 time frame like most jobs. What this means for us nurses is extreme flexibility in our schedules. Most hospital jobs are 12 hour shifts but you will find some hospital jobs as well as nursing home jobs that require 8 hour shifts. Of course there are managerial nursing jobs and specialty nursing jobs. Jobs such as school nursing or working in a doctor’s office do have 9 to 5 hours if that’s what you’re looking for. They all have advantages as well as a downside.
Twelve hour day shifts mean that the nurse will be working three days a week and alternating weekends. It allows for the nurse to have three days a week to recuperate or to work in a second job. Nurses who are being trained usually start out during the day when there is more opportunity to learn and there is more supervision. During the shift, however, the nurse will pretty much be disconnected from the outside world and will not be able to run errands that day. If you work this shift schedule you will leave to work most likely while the world is still sleeping, many times driving to work before sunrise and coming home after sunset too tired to spend quality time with your family. If you finish work at 7PM you will have exactly twelve hours to drive home, eat dinner, spend time with your loved ones, do chores, sleep, bathe, have breakfast, and drive back to work before 7AM. And that’s assuming that you can go to sleep without unwinding after a long, hard shift.
Twelve hour night shifts, on the other hand, mean less work. The objective during the night shift for the most part is to keep the patients stable and the doctors undisturbed. If you work the night shift you will not deal as much with having to get your patients out of bed, fed, and medicated before physical therapy, occupational therapy, and recreational therapy arrive. You will not be called into meetings during your shift and managers will think twice about calling you with questions so as not to wake you post shift. This is also an ideal schedule for those who want to continue college as it gives them the days to attend. This schedule is not for everyone though. Resetting ones circadian cycle can be difficult, resulting in insomnia. Another downside concerns those who have family. Working at night means less quality time either due to work or due to preparing for work. Obviously, this schedule would be impossible for one parent households. This is not the ideal position for a new nurse who will have less support from staff and doctors who don’t want to be woken up at two in the morning unless it’s a true emergency.
Then there are those eight hour shifts and the 9 to 5 hour shifts in schools and doctor offices. These jobs are ideal for single parents who need to have the same schedule as their children. However, these are the lowest paying nursing jobs available. But if a convenient schedule and a low stress job are your priorities then this may be the avenue for you. As the old saying goes, “different strokes for different folks”.