The question of how many days a nurse should work has no right answer at all. Every health institution and hospital has its working policies under public laws. As in case of the most health institutions, their working hours are usually 24 hours a day and these 24 hours are though out the year and remain open during vacations and public holidays. This is the reason; health institutions ask the nurses to work on the maximum level of hours under the labor working policy.
On average, a nurse can work up to 40 hours a day while selecting any time slot or shift made available to the administration. This is the reason nurses at different hospitals and health institutions can be found working on different shift hours. Providing services from a couple of hours to a 16-hour shift, nurses either made their own choices for the number of days to work per week or the administration of the hospital make the decision depending on the requirement of the situation and special skills being offered by nurses.
Commonly followed shift Outlines for nurses
The most commonly observed working outlines for nurses are 8 hours shifts, 12 hours shift and 16 hours shift. It depends on the shift if a nurse will go the work three days a week, four days a week, or five days a week. If a nurse is asked to offer 16 hour-long services, they can work for three hours a week. A nurse having a 12-hour shift can work four days a week and someone having 8 hours a week can work five days a week. Most of the time, hospital administrations prefer to have three shifts of 8-hour long time. These shifts are commonly known as morning shift, evening shift, and night shift. It is the job of the hospital administration to allow the shifts to the nurses depending on the skills available with nurses and services required in a time slot.
Hospitals offering services in emergencies, critical care units, child care services, and maternity services need nurses around 24 hours with professional skills and knowledge. With specialized skills, nurses are required to offer their services as long as they can. On the other hand, if a nurse is lacking special skills, they can be asked to provide backup to the doctors at their clinics to deal with outdoor patients.
Disadvantages of long hour shift
There are alarming situations of having long working hour shifts for nurses. Despite the reason that administrations prefer to have nurses with qualified skills and knowledge, the situations in which such nurses provide their services are alarming. Below are the few concerns that are a result of having long working hours by nurses.
Long-hour shifts usually question nurses to get to the work with the energy to go for long hours. It is very much important to have alternative work breaks to get the required energy all the time. This is not possible for a nurse as one should be at the point of duty as anything can happen anytime. For this reason, keeping the rush of the nurses’ job for long hours is a continuous exhaust. After getting off from the long hours’ shift, it is important to go through a tight sleep of over 12 hours. This schedule exhausts the nurses before, during, and after working hours.
Having all day sleep to go for a long hour night shift for three days mean you are not having any social life for almost half of the week. Or if any nurse is having working hours on alternate days, the nurses have to sleep before going to work and after getting back from the work.
Emotional stress is being accompanied by the nurses having long and night shifts. This is because you are coming back from the job and thinking of having rest and getting back to the same place. This is the cycle going on and it is creating emotional stress. The feeling of tiredness is normal for all, but getting cut off from the family and social life can add the emotional stress and can be dangerous for mental health in long term.
The nature of nurses’ jobs and responsibilities are to remain walking, standing, dealing with situations that require exertion, etc. Such responsibilities can result in situations harming the physical and mental health of a person. There is a high risk of depression, anxiety, and backbone issues. There are scientifically research proof reports which say that long working hours can result in sleep disorders in nurses which can further result in headaches, losing focus, long sleeping hours or difficulty in getting asleep.
Nurses having log working hours are observed to have a lack of focus in their primary job responsibilities of providing health care to patients. Most of the patients don’t remain satisfied with the nurses serving for the last 8 hours and longer.
Nurses working long working hours are often seen and observed with emotional changes. In such situations, nurses are unable to provide healing care to patients which are may require special consideration.
Nurses having long working hours are involved in workplace conflicts due to behavioral changes. It is usually experienced that nurses start to think if they are having any authority while working on long working hours and start directing other staff at their workplace. For this reason, it is usually taken into consideration by the health administrations to keep the working hours short than 12.
For most health institutions, there are no choices as there are limited qualified nurses and are unable to get the required number of qualified nurses. On the other side, it is a general opinion from the researchers and stakeholders to provide short working hours with a maximum number of working days a week. This is also important to make sure that nurses can provide effective and efficient services which are the main concern for the health institution.