What Is the NOC Shift? A Nurse’s Guide to Working it

nurse who is working the night shift walking in hospital
Written by
Jenna Elizabeth
Reviewed by
Miranda Kay, RN
December 27, 2023

What do vampires and night nurses have in common? They both work the night shift, a.k.a the “NOC shift,” and require exceptional stamina and adaptability to confront challenges before sunrise. 

What does NOC stand for? 

NOC stands for nocturnal and is an informal medical abbreviation pinned on night shift nurses.

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In all seriousness, night shift nurses are a different breed. They are amazingly resilient individuals who closely monitor patients, administer medications, and provide critical care while the rest of the world sleeps. Also, night shift nurses have the opportunity to develop stronger working relationships with their fellow nurses, which can support the development of a positive workplace culture.

But wait, isn’t night shift nursing hard? Sure, there will be hazy and lazy nights and times you’ll dream of your bed. However, the perks of night shift nursing can include anything from calmer work environments to higher hourly rates. 

So, whether you are already working as a night shift nurse or interested in picking up night shift jobs, this article is for you. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of night shift nursing and why it can be one of the best nursing shifts available.

NOC Meaning: Understanding the Night Shift in Nursing

NOC is short for nocturnal. The NOC shift in nursing refers to the night shift, which typically starts in the evening and ends in the early morning. It is a typical shift schedule for nurses in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. While some nurses may choose to work the night shift, many find themselves assigned to it based on seniority or staffing needs. Still, many nurses prefer the NOC shift; keep reading to know why.

What Is N.O.C.?

N.O.C. means the same as NOC; both stand for “night, overnight, or night shift.” It is a healthcare industry term used to describe working overnight hours. The term is widely used in nursing, as it is a critical shift to ensure 24-hour patient care.

Nurses working the NOC shift are responsible for monitoring patients, administering medications, and responding to any emergencies that may arise during the night.

When Do NOC Shifts Start?

NOC shifts, also known as the third shift, generally begin between 6:30 and 7 p.m. and are typically scheduled for 12 hours until the following day. Standard NOC shifts may also be only 8 hours long and be scheduled from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. However, remember that every hospital and medical facility differs, and specific schedules may vary. 

What Are the Advantages of Working the NOC Shift?

More time to concentrate on your work and patients, a less hectic work environment, and fewer distractions overall are just a few of the silver linings of working the night shift. However, the simple truth is that there are a ton of benefits to working the night shift; a few of them are listed below:

  • Improved working relationships with nursing colleagues: The workload may be lighter during the night shift, and nurses may have more time to chat and bond with their colleagues. This situation can foster a sense of camaraderie and improve communication and teamwork among the nursing staff.
  • More autonomy: With fewer staff members and a slower pace during the night, nurses working the night shift have more autonomy in their decision-making.
  • Relaxed and slower-paced working environment: The night shift is often quieter and slower than the day shift. This slower pace allows nurses to catch up on charting or take breaks to recharge. More rest can also lead to less stress and burnout in the long run. Nurses may also have more time with their patients.
  • More time spent with family: Working the night shift can allow nurses to spend more time with their families. Since their work schedule is opposite from the traditional nine-to-five, they can spend quality time with their loved ones at home during the day. Spending more time with family can be a significant advantage for nurses with children or other family obligations.
  • More time during the day: Working the NOC shift means you have the entire day to yourself—after resting, of course—which can be advantageous for nurses with families or those pursuing personal interests during the day.
  • Higher pay: One of the most significant advantages of working the night shift is the potential for higher income. In most healthcare settings, night shift nurses receive a premium rate for their services, so NOC nurses tend to have a higher hourly wage. Plus, nurses who choose PRN night shifts can get even higher wages!
  • Less traffic: Another advantage of working the night shift is avoiding rush hour traffic. Nurses working the NOC shift can enjoy a smoother and shorter commute, especially in big cities where traffic is a significant concern during peak hours.

Many NOC nurses love the benefits of working the night shift and choose this kind of shift for these and other reasons.

What Are the Disadvantages of Working the NOC Shift?

Working as a nurse on the night shift presents its own unique set of challenges and rewards. While the rest of the world sleeps, nurses on the night shift must be on duty. From patient care to ensuring the smooth operation of the healthcare facility, the following are some disadvantages of working the night shift:

  • Disruption of the natural sleep cycle: The most significant challenge of working the night shift is disrupting one’s sleep schedule. The body’s biological clock is wired to sleep at night and be active during the day. Working at night means going against this natural rhythm, leading to sleep disturbances and fatigue, especially when nurses don’t rest enough during the day.
  • Reduced social interaction: Night shift nurses often have to sacrifice their social lives to be able to work during the night. Due to their work schedules, they may miss family events, gatherings with friends, and other nighttime social activities.
  • Adverse impact on work-life balance: Nurses who work the NOC shift may need help maintaining a healthy work-life balance, as they often work long hours and may feel too tired to spend quality time with their loved ones.
  • Fewer doctors to check with: Depending on their working setting, nurses might not have any doctors at hand during the night shift.
  • Increased risk of injury and error: With less staff on duty, night shift nurses often have to take on more responsibilities, leading to higher chances of making mistakes. Fatigue and reduced staffing levels increase the risk of medical errors.

Even though there are some disadvantages to working the night shift, NOC shifts are still a great option, and many nurses even prefer this schedule. 

Prepare Yourself for the Night Shift as a Nurse

Transitioning to working during the night can be difficult for many nurses. That’s why preparing before taking on a night shift position is crucial. Here are some steps nurses can take to ensure that they are ready for the challenges of working the night shift:

  1. Establish a routine: Following routines can help the body adjust to night shifts. A routine can include setting a sleep schedule and eating or exercising at designated times.
  2. Planned meals: Eating healthily during the night shift is essential. Nurses can benefit from preparing healthy meals and packing nutritious snacks to keep their energy levels up.
  3. Have a support system: A support system, whether friends, family, or coworkers, is crucial for nurses working the night shift. These support networks can help manage responsibilities at work and home and provide emotional support when needed.
  4. Stay hydrated: Nurses must drink plenty of water and other fluids to stay hydrated during their shifts.
  5. Take breaks: Breaks during a night shift are essential to rest and recharge. Some nurses use this time to step outside, get fresh air, and stretch their muscles.

The NOC shift may not be for everyone, but it offers unique advantages for nurses who choose to work this shift. Patients require nursing care around the clock, so nurses must be flexible and adaptable to meet the demands of their jobs.

Finding Night Shift Jobs near Me with Nursa

Now that you know what the NOC shift is, you might be wondering, “How can I get high-paying NOC shifts?” It’s simple: Nursa connects nurses with per diem shifts in their area. With Nursa, clinicians can find night shift jobs near them that fit their schedules and preferences. Nurses can find high-paying night shift jobs near them and enjoy the perks of working off-peak hours.

Whether you want to work per diem occasionally to supplement your income or work per diem full-time, Nursa offers various flexible and high-paying options. With Nursa, you can filter your search based on location, shift type, specialty, and more, making it easy to find the right night shift job.

Jenna Elizabeth
Blog published on:
December 27, 2023

Meet Jenna, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who writes about healthcare news and updates, empathy and compassion for nurses, how to show staff appreciation and increase retention, and guides that help nurses navigate career pathways.

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