So you’ve finally done it! After countless hours of st

dying. After a mountain of exams and what felt like an eternity of clinical rotations, you’ve earned those coveted two letters: RN.

As you step into the world of professional nursing, a critical question emerges: What is the Best Shift for a New Nurse?

What is the Best Shift for a New Nurse?

The best shift for a new nurse is the shift that best fits your schedule and your ability to function on a regular basis. In most instances, you won’t have a choice since most new nurses will start on the night shift regardless of what they want.

New Nurse Academy

Trusted by 430,000+ future nurses and new nurses everywhere. Check out the course that helps new nurses bridge the gap and transition smoothly to becoming nurses.

What does it cover?

  • IV Insertion
  • EKG Reading
  • How to Chart
  • How to Prioritize
  • Nursing Interviews & Resume

Just to name a few.

Day Shift vs. Night Shift

If you have an option and are confused about which one you should take, here are the things to keep in mind.

Day Shift: The Bustle and the Buzz

Most commonly, the day shift for nurses runs from 7 AM to 7 PM. Here’s what you might expect:

Pros of Day Shift
  • The Learning Curve: As a new nurse, the day shift offers a steep learning curve. With more procedures, rounds, and patient discharges, you’ll get a wealth of experience in a short time.
  • Team Support: The day shift typically has more staff, offering you a safety net as you learn the ropes.
  • Routine: Most people are naturally attuned to a daytime schedule, making it easier to juggle personal life and work.
Cons of Day Shift
  • High-Stress Environment: The day shift is usually bustling with activities. It can feel overwhelming for some.
  • Early Starts: If you’re not a morning person, waking up for an early shift can be challenging.

Night Shift: Quiet Hours, Active Minds

The night shift typically runs from 7 PM to 7 AM. Here’s the lowdown:

Pros of Night Shift
  • Differential Pay: Most institutions offer a higher pay rate for night shifts as a sweet incentive.
  • Less Hustle-Bustle: Night shifts are typically quieter, with fewer rounds and discharges. This allows more focused patient care.
  • Close-knit Team: With fewer staff around, night shift nurses often form tight-knit teams.

The last part is not an exaggeration. The night shift nurses I know are always doing potluck and things that we never would be able to do (or get away with) on days.
Cons of Night Shift
  • Sleep Disruption: Working nights can disrupt your natural sleep cycle, potentially impacting your health.
  • Limited Resources: At night, fewer resources and personnel are available, which can be challenging for new nurses.

Rotating Shift: Best of Both Worlds?

Rotating shifts mean alternating between day and night duties. Let’s delve into its merits and demerits:

Pros of Rotating Shift
  • Experience: You get a taste of both day and night shifts, broadening your skill set.
  • Flexibility: Rotating shifts can provide some flexibility, allowing you to experience different routines.
Cons of Rotating Shift
  • Disrupted Body Clock: Constantly changing your sleep schedule can be tough on your body and mind.
  • Unpredictable Routine: It can be hard to establish a consistent routine when your schedule is always changing.
New Nurse Academy
Trusted by 430,000+ future nurses and new nurses everywhere. Check out the course that helps new nurses bridge the gap and transition smoothly to becoming nurses.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Shift

Now that we’ve given you the lowdown on each shift let’s discuss the factors that might sway your decision one way or the other.

Personal Lifestyle

Your personal life plays a significant role in determining the best shift for you. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Do you have family commitments or hobbies that require time during certain hours of the day?

Learning Opportunities

The day shift might provide more learning opportunities if you’re eager to soak up knowledge like a sponge.

However, the night shift can offer unique experiences and challenges that can hone your problem-solving skills.

Professional Development

Consider your career goals. If you aspire to advance into a leadership role, working the day shift might give you more exposure to management and decision-making processes.

Health and Wellbeing

Your health should never take a back seat.

If you struggle with sleep or have a medical condition that might be exacerbated by shift work, it’s crucial to consider these factors.

How to Adapt to Your Chosen Shift

Alright, so you’ve chosen your shift. Now, how do you acclimate to it?

Tips for Day Shift

  • Early to Bed, Early to Rise: Adjust your sleep schedule to wake up refreshed for your shift.
  • Meal Prep: Prepare your meals in advance to avoid resorting to unhealthy options during your break.
  • Take Advantage of Your Off Days: Use your days off to recharge and engage in activities you enjoy.

Tips for Night Shift

  • Create a Sleep Sanctuary: Invest in blackout curtains and earplugs to promote better daytime sleep.
  • Stay Active: Regular exercise can help regulate sleep and maintain health.
  • Healthy Snacks: Opt for nutritious snacks during your shift to maintain energy levels and prevent a crash.

Tips for Rotating Shift

  • Prioritize Sleep: No matter your shift, getting enough sleep is crucial.
  • Stay Organized: Use a planner or digital calendar to track your shift schedule.
  • Self-care: Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and mindfulness practices can help mitigate the stress of a fluctuating schedule.

Transitioning Between Shifts

Transitioning between shifts is a common part of nursing. If you decide your chosen shift isn’t working for you, don’t fret! Here’s how to make it smoother:

  • Gradual Adjustment: Slowly adjust your sleep schedule in the days leading up to the transition.
  • Patience: Give yourself time to adjust. It’s a process, not an overnight change!

Be Prepared Regardless of the Shift You Work

Regardless of the shift you’re working, you need to make sure you’re prepared. That’s why I recommend you check out the New Nurse Academy.

The New Nurse Academy is a course designed specifically for new nurses. It bridges the gap between school and professional practice.

It covers many of the things you’ll encounter in actual practice that nursing school doesn’t teach you, and the NCLEX doesn’t test on.

New Nurse Academy
Trusted by 430,000+ future nurses and new nurses everywhere. Check out the course that helps new nurses bridge the gap and transition smoothly to becoming nurses.

Have You Read These Yet?

Frequently Asked Questions

The best shift varies individually. It depends on factors like personal lifestyle, learning opportunities, professional development, and health considerations.

Yes, typically, night shifts come with a shift differential pay as an incentive.

Absolutely! Many nurses transition between shifts throughout their careers. It’s always a good idea to communicate your desires with your nursing manager.

Invest in a good sleep environment, stay active, eat healthy snacks, and maintain a consistent sleep schedule even on your days off.

The day shift can be busier and more hectic due to more procedures and patient discharges. However, stress levels can vary based on personal coping mechanisms and the work environment.

Prioritize sleep, stay organized, and practice regular self-care. Also, don’t hesitate to seek support from your team and loved ones.

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