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Pros and Cons of Working the Night Shift in Nursing

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Working as a nurse wouldn’t give you a weekdays-only, 9 to 5 schedule – and it’s the norm in the healthcare industry. Nurses often have to work on shifting schedules, which can mean going to work while everyone else is already getting ready for bed. There are definitely good and bad points about working at night, though. Now that you have graduated nursing school, earned your nursing pin, walked your pinning ceremony and passed the NCLEX - you can set your own schedule!

Here are a few pros and cons to working as a night shift nurse:


1. The pace is more manageable.

Patient census is generally lower in the night shift, which means you’ll have fewer tasks and fewer distractions to keep you from accomplishing them. The pace is typically slower, as well, and much more manageable, which allows you to spend more time with each patient assigned to you and therefore fine tune your nursing skills.

2. You have a higher chance of developing a team relationship.

There’s often less office drama in smaller night shift teams as compared to the day shift. Also, there’s usually more time to form tighter relationships within the team without the hustle of daytime shifts.

3. There’s more time for yourself.

Night shift nurses often clock out just as the rest of the world is getting ready to start their day, so roads are generally less busy. Doing your errands in the morning after your shift can help you avoid the onslaught of people doing their business later in the day, and can give you more time to finish your errands and rest.

4. The pay is usually higher.

Wages are typically higher for night shift nurses, as they work the shift that is not usually undertaken by most workers.


1. It may take a while for you to adjust.

If you’re not a night person at all, or are not accustomed to late hours at night, then making the shift towards a night schedule might take some getting used to. On average, it could take at least one month before you finally adjust, and you might just be spending your rest days catching up on some sleep.

2. There’s a looming threat to develop habits that are not healthy.

Your eating habits will be affected as you find yourself taking your “lunch” at 2AM when the only food places open would most likely be fast food joints serving unhealthy items. Also, to stay awake, you may start drinking more coffee, or even start smoking just to stay alert – habits that can lead to health problems later on.

3. You mostly receive second-hand information.

Since most patients are admitted during daytime, you’ll often have to rely on the charts, as well as on the endorsement from the day shift nurses in order to have a clear idea of what has been done since admission.

4. Some of your relationships might become strained.

Being asleep while the rest of your family and friends are awake can lead you to feel like you are missing out, so relationships can often become strained. You will need to exert more effort in order to stay connected to those you love when you’re working the night shift.

The road to becoming an effective nurse doesn’t stop at earning the nursing pin at graduation. Rather, it continues throughout your nursing career, which can include the inevitable night shift. As with most jobs, there are both advantages and disadvantages that you will need to consider before completely deciding that a job as a nurse is the right path for you.


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