An alluring aspect of the healthcare field is being able to create your own schedules or being able to pick when you work. One of my best friends is a nurse, and she works three 12-hour shifts a week...and absolutely loves it. I can see why -- having four days off a week sounds good to me!
But a a recent study pointed out the harm 12-hour shifts can sometimes cause. The study focused on nurses and noted those who work 12-hour shifts can suffer from "serious sleep deprivation, higher risk of health problems and greater odds of making patient errors."
The authors of the study suggested the following to alleviate the problems 12-hour shifts can cause:
- Eliminate all overtime (voluntary and mandatory) for 12-hour nurses.
- Leaving on time must become a guarantee rather than an unlikely occurrence.
- Don't call a nurse back to work after a 12-hour shift because it disrupts their sleep and implies that time off is a luxury, as opposed to necessary for practice and performance.
- Corporate napping, also called power napping. Both laboratory and workplace studies have confirmed (by electroencephalogram) that a brief 15- to 20-minute nap during a work shift confers additional alertness.
- Completely relieved breaks, where nurses are relieved of their responsibilities are important for performance, and need to be part of the cultural norm.
- Schedule easier tasks at the end of the shift, more difficult tasks at the beginning.
- Provide nutritious healthy food on night shifts so that workers can eat and refuel properly.
View the study here. Do you work 12-hour shifts in the lab? Do you enjoy them, or do you find harm in them? Do you wish you could work this shift, or would you never even consider it because the potential toll it could take on your body and your work performance? Share your thoughts here!