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The Inside Scoop on 12-Hour Shifts

From increased schedule flexibility to sleep deprivation, nurses long have debated the costs and benefits of the 12-hour shift.

Texas nurses and nurse recruiters share how the availability of this schedule impacts recruitment, retention and bedside care in hospitals.

Kara Eastom, RN, BSN, nurse recruiter, Medical City Dallas Hospital and Medical City Children’s Hospital

Kara Eastom, RN

“We transitioned our system to 12-hour shifts four years ago to increase patient and employee satisfaction. Nurses like 12-hour shifts because it allows them a better work-life balance, as they only work three days a week.

The longer shift also gives them more time to get everything done so they feel less rushed. We also are limiting the number of caregivers touching the patient during the day, which helps decrease medical errors. We also do self-scheduling, so nurses can arrange their schedules so they can have seven or eight days off in a row to go on vacation without taking vacation time.

“Some tenured nurses do prefer the eight or 10-hour shifts, and a lot of times they will transfer to units that offer these shorter shifts, such as day surgery, dialysis and special procedure departments.”

David Lyons, RN, BSN, ED staff/charge nurse, Methodist Mansfield (Texas) Medical Center

David Lyons, RN

“We transitioned our system to 12-hour shifts four years ago to increase patient and employee satisfaction. Nurses like 12-hour shifts because it allows them a better work-life balance, as they only work three days a week.

“Most of the staff like the 12-hour shifts so they have more time with their families, but I’ve also seen the hospital get creative about shifts for staff who prefer a different schedule. We have four, six and eight-hour shifts for per diem nurses, and they are considered part of our staff. In the emergency room, about 10% of the nurses are per diem, and I would guess that is roughly the same percentage throughout the hospital.

“As nurses get older, I see them preferring the six and eight-hour shifts over the 12-hour shifts. Personally, I’m going back to school to get my master’s degree so I can move to an administrative role and have more consistent time at home with my family. I’m 41, and I can’t keep the pace I am going in the emergency room for another 10 years.”

Susan Flores, RN, BSN, certified healthcare recruiter, Baptist Health System, San Antonio

Susan Flores, RN

“I think nurses are very attracted to the 12-hour shifts. It is typically what they are asking for when they come in to our system, and it is what most hospitals offer. For people who are looking for eight-hour shifts, there are some areas in our hospitals that offer that, such as outpatient surgery, PACU, the preadmissions testing area, cath lab, patient education, staff development and case management.

“We’ve also instituted a program in our corporation called “Health for Life” to help employees get healthy and stay healthy. Nurses, as well as other staff, can go to on-site exercise classes such as yoga, Zumba, power sculpting and stretching. They can go during their lunch breaks or stop in for 10 minutes during a break. We also offer the classes at 7:15 p.m. for nurses who want to participate after work. We are trying to help people take better care of themselves and prevent injuries, as 12-hour shifts can wear on the body over time.”

By | 2020-04-15T13:30:28-04:00 April 4th, 2011|Categories: Regional, South|0 Comments

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