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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

A Balancing Act

Published August 28, 2007 7:57 PM by Pam Tarapchak

I just passed a motherhood milestone this week. My son boarded the bus for his first day of kindergarten. He waved with a smile; I waved back with a heavy heart. Where did the past 5 years go?

As a mom who works full time, I have to admit, somewhat regrettably, much of my time was spent at work. However, I was fortunate to share the momentous bus-boarding event with my son, along with many others, because of the flexible schedule I'm afforded at my workplace.

Recently, Good Morning America reported on a new trend where companies are making it easier for parents to maneuver a work/life balance. One such organization is the Cleveland Clinic. Here, a unique Parent Shift Program offers moms and dads flexible shift options so they can practice nursing AND spend valuable time with their kids.

One nurse featured on the morning news show works a shift from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., allowing her to see her kids off to school and be there when they arrive home. However, the hospital also notes on its Web site that this program is not just for parents, but for anyone with a lifestyle that doesn't fit traditional nursing shift hours.

The news report noted the Cleveland Clinic has hired 120 new nurses since it began the unique staffing program 2 years ago. In the face of the nursing shortage, could accommodating parents with flexible scheduling be a solution?

One nurse who posted a comment on the GMA Web site seemed to believe nurses who handle the traditional 12-hour shifts would be left picking up the bulk of the patient care after the "flexible" schedule nurses left for the day. She thought younger nurses today expect to be able to work flex time and often are not scheduled for holidays or weekends. As a nurse with 25 years experience, she believes older nurses get lost in the shuffle.

For working parents, or for individuals working and caring for their own parents, flexible scheduling seems like an option more hospitals need to explore.


Whoever thought of the 12 hour shifts must be young and healthy.  I cannot work 12 hour shifts due to health problems, but I can work 6 hours to help during busy times of the day.  Either offer me that or I will file for disability.  Which do you want?  Help a nurse or totally lose a nurse?

Eleanor September 12, 2007 11:57 AM

I think that the Parent Shift program is a great idea.  I wish that my hospital would adopt this scheduling.  I have two children ages 3 and 6 and have been having a hard time with my current schedule.  When I asked to work the same days during the week for daycare issues I was basically told that "nobody cares" if you have children.     I am wondering if anyone else is having this type of problem.

Stephanie , registered nurse September 9, 2007 10:40 AM
New Haven CT

Dear Pam,

What a novel idea!  We can't be good nurses if we don't take care of ourselves first, and most nurses I know include family in 'ourselves'.  Thanks for bringing this idea to the forefront.

Lorettajo Kapinos, Emergency - RN, Baystate Medical Center August 28, 2007 11:53 PM
Springfield MA

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