Some nurses avoid the night shift like the plague. They want to avoid late-night hours that may disrupt their circadian rhythm. Others worry about fatigue or cardiovascular disease due to lack of sleep. Some simply want to have standard working hours.
However, there are some significant benefits to working the night shift for those who are a good fit.
If you’re naturally a night owl—or if you’re in a position where you could easily adjust—you may want to look at working night shifts. Let’s take a look at the five most significant benefits to consider.
1. Patients May Be Quieter (or Sleeping)
In many specialties, the night shift is at least a little slower than the day shift. Nevertheless, you could still have emergencies at any point. Nursing is never exactly a “downtime guaranteed” vocation, which is just as true at noon as at midnight.
That said, many of your admitted patients who are stable will be calmer. Many will be sleeping, and even many emergency room (ER) patients and their accompanying partners can be exhausted when they come in the middle of the night.
Fewer people are bored, restless, and anxious. People aren’t asking for showers, which typically means disconnecting any intravenous lines (IVs) and getting help from your certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Patients are rarely arguing as intensively about when their next meal is or what it should be.
You get a little more peace, and in most cases, you’ll get more downtime, too. Some nurses use this as an opportunity to knock out homework for an advanced nursing degree, while others simply enjoy the typically slower pace.
2. Time Off While You Can Run Errands
One of the best parts of working night shifts is that you’ve got some time built in where you can run errands. Need to make a dentist appointment at eight in the morning on the way home from your shift? You can do that. Want to make a quick stop at the grocery store to grab a sandwich for your dinner? That’s an option when you’re stopping in at six in the evening on the way into work, but rarely possible at six in the morning when day shift workers are heading in.
Some night shift workers will stick to a single sleep schedule, sleeping during parts of the day and rising at night on their days off. Others can switch back and forth easily. Either way, having the option to have businesses open during your off hours can be a significant advantage, even if it just means avoiding rush hour.
3. Easier Split of Childcare with a Partner
One of the common reasons parents choose to work night shift jobs is because it’s a more straightforward split of childcare with a partner or family member.
Parents will wake up in time to get their kids home from school. Then, they can spend quality time with them, including having dinner and helping with homework. Then, they can work when their children are sleeping for the night. Often, this works when their spouses work days and can be home with their kids in the evening or if a friend or family member can watch the children.
Childcare is costly, with the average cost per week per child in 2022 coming to $694. However, by being around during the day when your presence is needed and having someone else to cover the night shift hours for childcare, many families can keep daycare and aftercare costs at $0. That’s a massive benefit.
4. Fewer Patient Visitors
Patients can be a handful on their own, but many nurses learn over time that patients’ visitors can be just as much of a headache.
The visitors may understandably want to talk to the nurse to ask questions or to request to see the doctor. That’s to be expected, even if it slows you down a bit when you need to keep pressing on for morning rounds.
Some visitors, however, can be downright difficult. We saw difficult family members getting more common during the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t uncommon for intensive care unit (ICU) nurses to wind up dealing with outraged and confrontational families. These families would swear up and down that their intubated family member only had the flu, not COVID, or that they needed ivermectin instead of the patient’s prescribed medications.
It’s also not uncommon to have potential visitor drama in other specialties. For example, labor and delivery nurses often have to deal with overbearing families wanting to get to hold the baby first. Nurses may need to step up and advocate for their overwhelmed patients when they cannot do so themselves.
So while no nursing shift is ever effortless, the lack of patient visitors in the evening is a definite plus.
5. There May Be a Monetary Incentive
While it’s not a hard and fast rule, some healthcare organizations pay more for night shifts than for day shifts. Increased pay is particularly likely for PRN work. With PRN work, nurses will pick up individual shifts as independent contractors. Since nursing night shifts are typically more challenging to fill, a bump in pay may be offered, which is an added bonus since PRN nurses typically make higher hourly rates than nurses on staff.
Ensure you’re working with a PRN job site offering transparent pay rates. Here at Nursa, you can see which shifts offer what pay rates upfront. If you want the extra cash, you can find the highest-paying gigs available and apply right then and here.
Want to learn more about earning more as a PRN nurse? See how Nursa works to connect you with PRN shifts fast here.