Night Owl Nurses Wanted: The Benefits of Working the Late Shift

Unlike the needs of office workers, healthcare professionals operate on a twenty-four hour demand schedule. For many nurses, just the idea of the night-shift inspires literal graveyard images. However, some nurses actually prefer burning the midnight oil over the chaos of a facility's daylight hours. The night-shift always is high in demand, and many benefits actually come to the night-owl nurse:


nurses looking at a skeleton

Image via Flickr by University of Salford

For many freshly certified nurses, the night-shift comes with the territory. However, due to the high demand for night coverage, a positive attitude and willingness to take these hours grants many newly graduated students a quick in to real hospital, home, or general healthcare experience. As an ever-popular field, new nurses should certainly take advantage of a schedule that nearly guarantees hire. 

Better yet, the night-shift provides more opportunities for new nurses to make a good reputation and move-up in the ranks. Once successfully acclimated to working late hours, less competition and an apparent adaptive nature means quicker upward mobility.

The New Stay-at-Home Mom

mom and daughter lying down

Image via Flickr by Dane Khy

For mothers (and fathers), the night-shift actually comes as a blessing. Instead of returning to a family when the time to connect, communicate, and interact has passed over to bedtime, individuals get to work as children and spouses snooze.

Working at night frees up parents to focus on their family's needs. All of the benefits of being a stay-at-home parent still exist, like preparing healthy meals, helping with homework, getting kids to practice and doctor's appointments, and attending school productions and events. It's hard to keep up with a family when everyone's rushing in-and-out during the day. Plus, any parents can relate to last-minute demands for baked goods, posters and project materials, and signed field-trip forms. As a late-nighter, that Wal-Mart trip past midnight won't even phase you.

At the same time, this career schedule choice helps establish a true tag-team effort in parents. Children benefit from the extra time at night with tuck-ins and story-time from the parent absent in the day hours. There's no more distant-dad syndrome. Lastly, ten-hour shifts generally means a three-day weekend so date nights (or afternoons) become open possibilities.

Pay-Day Increase

Nurses are among the many professionals that receive a pay upgrade for tackling the graveyard shift. Simply ditching a 9:00a.m.-5:00p.m. for a 9:00p.m. to 5:00a.m. tacks on a ten percent increase. On weekends, nurses especially earn an hourly rate hike for clocking-in after dark.

Less Stressful Patient Routine

Working in a hospital always breeds chaos and stress, but the night shift operates on a much slower, relaxed pace. Since many patients simply need monitoring as they rest, the stress level drops considerably.

Many nurses especially appreciate the one-on-one experiences they have with their patients during night-shifts. Instead of rushing from patient to patient, nurses can sit and truly understand a patient's situation, both medically and personally. It's true patient-care to the core.

In addition, night nurses find relief from administrative heavy-handedness. Without interruptions for meetings and the time lost to doctor's rounds and the hierarchy of supervisors, directors, and managers, nurses expand their decision-making power and can look for any mishaps from the morning. Some nurses even report receiving occasional bonuses for their strong decisive actions in moments of need. 

Best of all, nurses find that patients receive more direct therapeutic attention during night hours. The night shift opens up opportunities for nurses to listen to concerns or stories and give comforting back rubs, snacks, or baths to help coax on a sleep routine for patients struggling with shut-eye. The lack of a hectic atmosphere allows important bonding and trust between patients and nurses. 

Study Time and Multi-Tasking

With all the down-time that comes with working late hours in a healthcare facility, many nurses find unique time to organize their lives. Whether studying for a degree to further their education, reading an informative book, or organizing an inbox, the night-shift gives nurses pockets of time to multi-task on the job. If napping during a lunch break leaves a nurse too groggy, these breaks offer time to catch-up with friends via email, organize a social calendar, or exercise by walking the floors or taking the stairs, helping to relieve fatigue.

While patients sleep, night-shift nurses also help the day-shift by picking up extra tasks to alleviate their duties the next day. Since the day nurses need to handle more administrative responsibilities and deal both with parents and their families, any task of their busy schedule is much appreciated. For those who fluctuate between day and night shifts understand this necessary support double-fold.

Lasting Friendships

two coffee mugs

Image via Flickr by Era Phernalia_Vintage

Due to the low-key atmosphere of night-shifts, it's much easier to cultivate valuable friendships from the co-dependence formed in being the top-tier decision makers. This camaraderie helps most with adjusting to the nocturnal life. Nurses share tips on managing a life with such a drastically different schedule and rely on each other to keep the steam flowing. Teamwork and intimacy with patients means a more varied and informed approach to nursing.

Carpooling often helps nurses avoid dangerous driving when tired. A post-work meal at a twenty-four hour diner or a shared cup of coffee can keep nurses from feeling a dent in their social lives. These fellow night-owls become a fun, sympathetic group that looks out for one another.

Sleeping Pattern Adaptation

Unlike the rest of the world who most likely find jet lag crippling, the ability for night nurses to adjust their circadian rhythms means flying across time zones bears minimal to no effect. With heavy reliance on one another, the teamwork built through these bonds generally makes for smoother shifts.

For parents, many adopt a two-session sleep schedule. These nurses take a long stretch of sleep after their kids leave to school and until they come home, and then give themselves a refreshing nap right before their shift.

However, many nurses simply get to bed right when they arrive home, simulating the six to eight hours of night-time sleep bodies naturally crave and need. Either way, when a kink gets thrown into even their unusual sleeping schedule, nurses quickly know the tricks to adapt and still function. 

If you're naturally nocturnal and looking for a career that takes strength, sensitivity, a caring nature, and a quick-on-your-feet mind, then consider becoming a nurse and working late-nights. Before you turn down the night-shift, know that all larks can adapt into night-owls. You might actually find the night-life suits your life better than following a conventional work routine.

Contributed to by Kim Evans

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