Most new nurses work 12-hour shifts, some have second jobs

Newly licensed nurses are predominantly working 12-hour shifts, nearly half work overtime and more than 1 in 10 have a second job, a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found.

The study, conducted by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing in New York City, analyzed surveys from more than 4,500 newly licensed nurses in 13 states and Washington, D.C. Researchers asked nurses about their work schedule, daily shift length, weekly work hours, overtime and whether they worked a second job.

The researchers found newly licensed nurses work 39.4 hours per week on average, mostly in 12-hour shifts. More than 13 percent of respondents reported having a second paid job. New nurses said they prefer working the day shift, and the preferred shift length is 12 hours.

Additionally, 12 percent of nurses reported working mandatory overtime (an average of less than an hour in a typical week), and nearly half (45.6 percent) work voluntary overtime (an average of three hours in a typical week).

"On the positive side, we observed that new nurses appear to be working a similar proportion of 12-hour shifts as more experienced nurses based on other studies, and the majority of nurses were working the shift and schedule that they preferred. We also did not find meaningful increases in overall weekly work hours or overtime hours compared to previous studies," Dr. Witkoski Stimpfel said. "At the same time, our study did not reveal major changes in when or how long new nurses are working that could enhance patient safety and well-being among nurses."

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