From increased schedule flexibility to sleep deprivation, nurses long have debated the costs and benefits of the 12-hour shift.
Florida nurse recruiters share how the availability of this schedule impacts recruitment, retention and bedside care in hospitals.
Duarte Mendonca, nurse recruiter, Bethesda Healthcare System, Boynton Beach, Fla.Duarte Mendonca
Nurses seem to really like working 12 hours three days a week because they want to have the quality of life that they can gain from being away from work four days a week. Some nurses prefer to work three days in a row and then have four days off, but others prefer to space out the shifts. If they work an additional shift, then they can work four days a week and still have three days off.
We do an employee survey every two to three years in which employees are encouraged to speak up if they have ideas for improvement, and I havent seen any responses from nurses saying they want eight-hour shifts. We also have a recruitment and retention committee that gives nurses a voice. I think the patients prefer it, too, because it means they have just two nurses taking care of them during a day rather than three.
Tammy Long, RN, BS, MS, PHR, director of nursing resources, University Community Hospital, Tampa, Fla.Tammy Long, RN
I believe the 12-hour shifts are preferred over shorter shifts for our new employees, but in the near future, to keep a healthy and happy workforce, we are going to need to be extremely flexible and creative in how we accommodate the aging workforce.
The average age of a nurse at our hospital is 46, and we anticipate that the nursing shortage will become more acute at the same time that a lot of our nurses will be eligible for retirement.
Twenty-eight percent of our nurses are over the age of 50, and in the next 10 years, more than 25% of our nurses will be eligible for retirement. Given the legacy our senior nurses provide and the value we place on them, we are continually looking at ideas to keep our nurses healthy and happy and a vital part of our healthcare community, such as shorter shifts and lift teams.
Jane Boon, RN, BSN, nurse recruiter, Citrus Memorial Health Systems, Inverness, Fla.
In my experience, most nurses prefer 12-hour shifts. They like to work three days a week and have four days off. We do offer eight-hour shifts on one unit, the orthopedic surgical unit. Nurses may prefer to work eight hours if they are older, or if they have always worked eight hours and want to continue doing so.
Sometimes I have an opening for a med/surg nurse on the eight-hour floor and the 12-hour floor, and I will ask applicants if they have a preference, and they almost always select the 12-hour shift option. If they work eight hours a day, then they have to work five days a week, and most nurses prefer to have the option to work three longer days. Even though most prefer the 12-hour shifts, I think it attracts nurses to the facility knowing there is an option for eight hours if they might want that schedule some time in the future.