Nurturing the Healers: Promoting Mental Wellness in the Nursing Profession

Nurturing the Healers: Promoting Mental Wellness in the Nursing Profession

Understanding the Challenges of Mental Wellness in the Nursing Profession

In the noble profession of nursing, the importance of mental wellness cannot be overstated. Nurses are not only responsible for caring for patients’ physical health but also play a vital role in supporting their emotional well-being. However, in the midst of their compassionate service, nurses often face numerous challenges that can take a toll on their own mental health.

This article aims to shed light on these challenges and provide strategies for promoting mental wellness among nurses, ensuring they receive the care they so selflessly provide to others.

The Challenges of Stress, Burnout, and High Workload in Nursing

Stress and burnout are major challenges in the nursing profession. Nurses often face long hours, heavy workloads, and emotional strain, leading to high levels of stress. This can result in physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion known as burnout. Inadequate staffing, intense patient care responsibilities, and lack of breaks contribute to these issues.

Stress and burnout have negative consequences for both nurses and patient care. They can lead to decreased job performance, increased absenteeism, and high turnover rates. Burned-out nurses are more likely to make errors, compromising patient safety. They also experience poorer physical and mental health.

Emotional Demands and Compassion Fatigue

Nursing involves emotionally demanding situations, such as dealing with critically ill patients, end-of-life care, and supporting patients and their families through challenging circumstances. Constant exposure to these emotional stressors can lead to compassion fatigue, where nurses experience emotional exhaustion and reduced empathy.

Medical professional listening to patient's heart.

Recognizing the Signs of Mental Health Issues in Nurses

Nurses, like anyone else, are susceptible to mental health issues. Understanding the common challenges they may face, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is essential. Being able to recognize the warning signs and symptoms is crucial in identifying when a nurse may be struggling with their mental health. 

Some warning signs of mental health issues may include:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Low functioning at work
  • Concentration, memory, and logical thinking or speech issues
  • Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, or touch
  • Loss of motivation
  • Feeling disconnected from oneself or surroundings
  • Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal abilities
  • Fear or suspicion of others
  • Displaying peculiar behavior
  • Significant changes in sleep, appetite, or personal care
  • Rapid or dramatic mood swings

Early identification and intervention can have a significant impact on their overall well-being and their ability to provide high-quality care. Changes in behavior, mood swings, withdrawal, and decreased job performance can be indicators of underlying mental health issues. Physical symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and appetite changes may also accompany mental health concerns.

By being vigilant and observant, early identification becomes possible, enabling timely intervention. This proactive approach can have a profound impact on the nurse’s well-being and their ability to consistently deliver high-quality care.

Strategies for Promoting Mental Wellness in the Nursing Profession

Encourage Open Communication and Empathy

Creating a supportive work environment is paramount in nurturing the mental wellness of nurses. By encouraging open communication and empathy, we can foster a culture of understanding and support. Reducing stigma surrounding mental health ensures that nurses feel safe seeking help when needed. Promoting work-life balance and self-care empowers nurses to prioritize their well-being, ensuring they have the resilience to face the challenges they encounter daily.

Provide Education and Training on Mental Health

Increase awareness and knowledge about mental health 

Offer educational programs and workshops that focus on mental health awareness, self-care strategies, stress management techniques, and resilience-building exercises.

Help develop coping skills and resilience

Equip nurses with practical tools and resources to manage stress, enhance coping mechanisms, and foster resilience in the face of challenging situations.

Offer resources and support services

Ensure nurses have access to confidential counseling services, employee assistance programs, and mental health resources to address their specific needs.

Implement Organizational Policies and Practices

Have adequate staffing and workload management

Ensure that staffing levels are sufficient to manage patient loads effectively, helps reduce the burden on nurses and helps prevent burnout.

Give regular breaks and rest periods

Establish policies that prioritize regular breaks and rest periods, allowing nurses time to recharge and rejuvenate.

Offer employee assistance programs and counseling services

Provide access to professional mental health support services, counseling, and resources helps assist nurses in managing their mental well-being effectively.

Collaborate and Help Provide Support Systems

Collaboration between nurses and healthcare organizations plays a vital role in promoting mental wellness within the nursing profession. When nurses and their employers work together, they can create an environment that places a high value on mental well-being and provides the necessary support systems.

Peer support programs and mentorship opportunities are instrumental in fostering a sense of connection and solidarity among nurses. These initiatives allow nurses to share their experiences, challenges, and successes with colleagues who understand the unique demands of the profession. Through peer support, nurses can find comfort, guidance, and empathy, which can significantly contribute to their overall mental well-being.

Furthermore, partnerships with mental health professionals are essential for ensuring that specialized care is readily available when needed. Collaborating with mental health experts enables healthcare organizations to offer targeted interventions, counseling services, and resources specifically tailored to the needs of nurses. This collaboration ensures that nurses have access to professional help and guidance should they experience mental health challenges.

Promote Self-Care and Mindfulness

Self-care is crucial for nurses to maintain their well-being and effectively manage the demands of their profession. By prioritizing self-care, nurses can prevent burnout, reduce stress levels, enhance job satisfaction, and improve their overall physical and mental health. Here are strategies for practicing self-care:

Physical well-being

Nurses should focus on regular exercise to promote physical fitness and relieve stress. Engaging in activities like walking, jogging, or yoga can help improve cardiovascular health and boost energy levels. Proper nutrition, including a balanced diet and staying hydrated, is also essential. Adequate sleep is crucial for rest and rejuvenation, so establishing a consistent sleep routine is important.

Emotional well-being

Managing stress is vital for nurses. They can practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety and promote emotional well-being. Engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation is also beneficial. Seeking support from peers, friends, or professional counselors can provide emotional outlets and aid in coping with challenging situations.

Social well-being

Nurturing healthy relationships is key to self-care. Maintaining connections with family, friends, and colleagues can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging. Engaging in social activities, participating in support groups, or joining professional organizations can foster a sense of community and provide opportunities for networking and mentorship.

The Role of Leadership in Promoting Mental Wellness

Leadership plays a vital role in fostering a culture of well-being within the nursing profession. Leaders have a lot of influence in shaping the nursing work environment and it is essential that they prioritize and promote the mental wellness of the nursing workforce.

To create a mentally healthy workplace, implementing the following supportive leadership practices and initiatives can be helpful:

Have regular check-ins and ask for feedback

  • Conduct regular check-ins to address concerns, provide feedback, and offer support.
  • Actively listen to nurses’ needs and concerns to foster a culture of open communication.

Recognize and celebrate accomplishments

  • Acknowledge and appreciate the hard work and dedication of nurses.
  • Celebrate milestones and achievements to boost morale and motivation.

Promoting professional growth and development

  • Support nurses’ professional growth through opportunities for training, continuing education, and career advancement.
  • Provide access to resources that enhance their knowledge and skills.

The Bottom Line

Prioritizing the mental wellness of nurses is crucial for their personal well-being, job satisfaction, and the quality of patient care. By understanding the challenges they face and makin necessary changes, we can establish an environment that fosters and supports the mental wellness of nurses.

Let’s come together in our collective commitment to prioritize the mental health of those who dedicate themselves to healing others, thereby ensuring a healthier and happier nursing workforce that positively impacts patient outcomes.

Additional Recommended Reading:

Preparing For Your First Travel Nursing Assignment

Preparing For Your First Travel Nursing Assignment

Your first assignment as a travel nurse can be both exciting and intimidating. Getting the opportunity to explore new places, meet new people, expand your knowledge, and advance your career can be thrilling — but preparing for your first job in a city and medical facility you may be unfamiliar with can feel overwhelming.

Whether you’re contemplating where you’d like to start your travel nursing career or recently accepted your first assignment, we’re here to help you gear up for the job. Read on for valuable tips that’ll help you set yourself up for career, financial, and personal life success as a travel nurse.

Do Your Research

Although travel nursing can be an incredibly rewarding career, it does have its drawbacks, including some you may not anticipate — which is why doing your research is essential.

Spend some time online learning about the travel nursing profession. Read blogs, watch videos, or join groups where you can network with other nurses who are currently on assignment. Learning from others in similar positions will allow you to get a good feel for the pros and cons of the job, what to expect throughout your assignment, and what to watch out for.

Preparing for your first travel nursing assignment can be incredibly overwhelming. But with the right tools and attitude you can start the travel nursing career of your dreams.

Choose Your Travel Nursing Agency Carefully

You don’t have to work with a medical staffing agency to land a travel nursing job, but most nurses do, and using one can be advantageous for many reasons. Not only do agencies have connections with medical facilities looking for travel nurses, but they typically also handle the bulk of your job-related paperwork.

More importantly, many agencies offer contract nurses highly competitive pay and attractive benefits that may include:

  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement plans
  • Living stipends
  • Travel reimbursement
  • Bonuses and referrals
  • 24/7 support

Some agencies also offer housing support to help travel nurses find secure short-term rentals near their work locations.

Keep your options open as you compare multiple agencies and connect with prospective recruiters. Only make a commitment when you’ve found an agency with policies, pay, and benefits that align with your best interests.

Get Specialty Experience and Earn Certification(s)

Diversifying your areas of expertise will not only open up more assignment opportunities and make you a more attractive candidate, but will also increase your potential pay.

You may want to gain experience in specialties that typically have a high demand for travel nurses to get your foot in the door. Or, if you know you’re interested in something specific, you can start by earning a certification in that specialty, so you’ll be well-positioned to secure assignments working in the department you’d prefer.

Be Flexible

Keep in mind that as a new travel nurse, you may not be offered your ideal assignment simply due to your lack of experience. You’ll need to be as flexible as possible concerning the work locations and facilities you’ll consider accepting contracts at.

As you continue working in the industry, you’ll be able to be more selective about the contracts you accept.

inside of airplane

Thoroughly research destinations before you make your final decision.

Research Destinations

Moving to and working in a new city can be exhilarating, but living in a new place will only be as satisfying as you make it. To help give yourself the best shot at having a good work-life balance, take time to research potential destinations thoroughly before you commit, so you can plan for activities that’ll allow you to enjoy your days off.

Plan Ahead for Your First Day

When you find a location you like and accept your first assignment, make a plan for a simple and streamlined first day. This may include:

  • Finding out when you need to arrive for your shift, where to clock in, who you should meet for orientation, and what you need to bring to work
  • Completing any required training modules or certifications
  • Determining how long your commute will take to ensure you arrive at work on time

Tour the Facility You’ll Be Working At

If possible, arrange a tour of the facility before your start date. While you’ll likely undergo some form of orientation during your first few hours on shift, gathering some basic details in advance can help you hit the ground running.

nurse with a face mask

Don’t forget to reach out for help on your new travel assignment. You’ve got this!

Be a Team Player, Express Gratitude, and Stay Positive

When you arrive for your first day on assignment, be cognizant of the fact that full-time staff and other travelers may already be stressed and at capacity. Be a team player and let your coworkers know you’re there to do whatever you can to help.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions when you need to, and when your teammates are helpful, openly express your gratitude. Make a genuine effort to get to know your coworkers and do your best to get along with everyone.

As a nurse, you’ve no doubt encountered your share of difficulties on the job and learned it’s best to be flexible and ready to handle anything that comes your way. Gearing up for and working your first travel nursing assignment will be no different. Prepare as well as you can, be open and willing to help, build experience, and do your best to forge positive relationships along the way.

Author bio: Garrett Norman is Vice President of Operations at SkyBridge Healthcare. With over a decade of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry, Norman has developed a passion for building successful teams, facilitating connections between healthcare clients and candidates, and driving revenue growth at SkyBridge Healthcare. While overseeing day-to-day operations is his primary job function, Norman also enjoys golfing, reading and spending quality time with his family.

Additional Recommended Reading:

The Best Nurse Coffee Mugs (2023)

The Best Nurse Coffee Mugs (2023)

*This post contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission when you purchase through one of our links. This helps us keep providing helpful content for nurses like yourself.

Hey Nurses, Don’t Forget Your Coffee!

Whether you are an ICU or ER nurse, work in labor and delivery, or anything in-between, nursing can be a tough gig, and great nurse mugs can help make your day easier.

These mugs keep your coffee or tea (or even your favorite hot chocolate!) hot during long shifts, making sure you’re slow sipping all morning. Plus, they look great, too – with inspirational quotes to remind you of how strong nurses are no matter what the day throws at them.

Whether you are gifting yourself a nurse mug, giving one as an appreciation gift to a fellow colleague, or purchasing a gift to make your favorite nursing student smile, these nurse mugs will help boost morale as they show just how much appreciation there is for this life-saving profession.

With stylish designs and eye-catching colors, everyone will recognize who they belong to! These make great gifts for any occasion at an affordable price point.

Check out this selection of the highest-rated registered nurse mugs available on Amazon, and get yours today before they sell out!

women drinking out of coffee mug

Great Nurses Need Great Tea & Coffee Mugs

Nurses are the unsung heroes of the medical industry. They are the ones tirelessly working day and night to help patients and keep them comfortable. But we know being a nurse can be tough, hectic, and stressful. That’s why we decided to bring you the best range of nurse coffee cups and travel mugs to help you relax while you enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

These cups and mugs are not only practical gifts, but also a great conversation starter gift for fellow nurses.

The Best Nurse Coffee Mugs And Cups For Nurses

Now that we know that coffee and tea are not only essential items for our daily function as nurses and also may benefit our brains and body, there is also only one more thing left to do. And that is to find the best nurse coffee mugs to take home to enjoy your delicious brew.

With no further ado and in no particular order, here are the best nurse coffee mugs you will love for years to come!

#1. I’m a Nurse, What’s Your Superpower? Light Blue 18 Oz Mug


Why We Love It

Very cute and nurse supportive of the nursing profession!

Product Features

  • Material: Porcelain
  • Blue color
  • Capacity: 1.1 Pounds
  • Dishwasher Safe

#2. Chaos Coordinator Mug Tumbler -14oz Purple


Why We Love It

These make a unique gift Idea for a registered nurse, mom, or other loved one.

The tumbler features double-wall vacuum insulation, ensuring beverages stay at the ideal temperature (hot or cold) for an extended period. It can accommodate various drinks, with favorites such as wine, juice, coffee, or tea.

Constructed from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, this tumbler is durable, resistant to rust, and doesn’t impart any flavors. It comes with a clear BPA-free lid.

Product Features

  • Stainless steel
  • Capacity 14 ounces
  • Rust proof
  • Break resistant

#3. Chaos Coordinator 14 oz Coffee Mug


Why We Love It

This is a classy and sarcastic stainless steel coffee mug tumbler that features the funny boss saying: “Chaos Coordinator Fueled By Caffeine” in white print on the front

Product Features

  • Vacuum-insulated stainless steel cool mug tumbler
  • Keeps drinks hot for 4 to 6 hours and cold for 9 to 12 hours
  • High quality and durable, perfect for long-lasting temperature retention
  • 14 ounces in size, perfect for your coffee
  • Spill-resistant clear lid with a straw hole and slide cover
  • It can be used with or without a straw

#4. I Will Stab You – Nurse Mug


Why We Love It

Cute, personalized stainless steel coffee travel mug for female nurses. Screen printed with the saying: “I Will Stab You” in white print on the front.

Product Features

  • Keeps drinks hot for 4 to 6 hours and cold for 9 to 12 hours
  • High quality and durable for long-lasting temperature retention
  • Perfect size travel cup for coffee, 14 ounces
  • Dimensions: 3.75″ x 4.25″
  • Includes a spill-resistant clear lid with a straw hole and slide cover
  • High quality and convenient for sipping with or without a straw

#5. Coffee Mug with A Fun Prescription


Why We Love It

This is the perfect addition to your coffee cup collection! This cute mug labels prescribing coffee as a solution for every problem. A funny way to start your day.

Product Features

  • Porcelain mug
  • Imported
  • Hilarious Coffee Mugs:
  • 12 oz coffee mug
  • Hand wash recommended
  • Not microwave-safe

How We Choose The Best Nurse Mugs

Here are a few things we considered when picking the best nurse mugs:

  • Material (ceramic, porcelain, glass, or stoneware for durability and heat retention)
  • Insulation
  • Handle (a comfortable and securely attached handle for easy and safe gripping.
  • Size and capacity
  • Lip and rim design
  • Colors, design, and aesthetics
  • Easy to clean
  • Durability

These features should help you make an informed decision when selecting the best coffee mug for your kitchen and unique sipping needs.

Coffee Has Many Health Benifits

Developing a coffee habit wasn’t the worst thing in the world for me. After all, there is scientific evidence that drinking coffee may be beneficial to overall health in many ways, including:

#1. Drinking coffee may undo liver damage caused by booze.

Even though my college party days are long behind me, this was still great news to hear. Researchers analyzed data from nine previously published studies with a total of more than 430,000 participants – and found that drinking two additional cups of coffee a day was linked to a 44% lower risk of developing liver cirrhosis!

#2: Coffee may help you live longer.

A Stanford University study that tracked 100 people over several years found that coffee drinkers tended to live longer lives than non-coffee drinkers. The authors theorized that increased caffeine consumption might counteract the “fundamental inflammatory mechanism associated with human aging.”

#3: Regular coffee consumption may be good for your heart and brain.

The American Heart Association and the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that the risk of heart failure or stroke went down 8 percent for each additional cup of coffee per day.

What Features Make A Great Coffee Mug?

When considering what features make a great coffee mug (different from a tumbler), several factors come into play. Here are some features to consider:


The material of the coffee mug plays a significant role in its quality. Common materials include ceramic, porcelain, glass, and stoneware. Ceramic and porcelain mugs are popular choices as they retain heat well, are durable, and offer a pleasing aesthetic. Glass mugs provide visibility, allowing you to appreciate the color and texture of your coffee. Stoneware mugs are known for their durability and rustic charm.


While coffee mugs are not typically insulated like tumblers, a well-designed mug should still have some heat-retention properties. Thicker walls and materials like ceramic or stoneware can help retain the heat of your beverage for a longer time.


A comfortable and well-designed handle is essential for a great coffee mug. It should be large enough to fit your fingers comfortably, allowing you to hold the mug without burning yourself. The handle should also be sturdy and securely attached to the mug to prevent accidents.

Size and Capacity

Coffee mugs come in various sizes and capacities. Consider how much coffee you typically drink and choose a mug size that suits your preferences. Keep in mind that a larger capacity mug may cool down faster than a smaller one.

Lip and Rim Design

The lip or rim of the mug should be smooth and comfortable to drink from. It should have a slight outward curve to prevent spills and allow for easy sipping. Avoid mugs with sharp or uncomfortable edges that could make drinking less enjoyable.

Design and Aesthetics

The color and appearance of the mug can contribute to your overall coffee-drinking experience. Choose a design that you find visually appealing and matches your personal style. Some mugs feature patterns, colors, or artistic designs that can enhance your enjoyment of the coffee.

Easy to Clean

A great coffee mug should be easy to clean, either by hand or in the dishwasher. Smooth surfaces and accessible shapes make cleaning more convenient. It’s also important to consider whether the mug is microwave-safe if you prefer to reheat your coffee.


Look for and create a coffee mug that is durable and resistant to chipping or cracking. High-quality materials and well-made construction contribute to the longevity of the mug, ensuring it can withstand daily use without losing its functionality or aesthetic appeal.

Ultimately, the ideal coffee mug is subjective and depends on your personal preferences. Considering these features will help you find and select a mug that suits your needs and enhances your coffee-drinking experience.

What Are The Best Special Occasions To Buy Nurse Mugs As Gifts?

There are several reasons or holidays when buying a nurse mug can be a thoughtful and appreciated gesture. Here are some of the best occasions:

International Nurses Day: This day celebrates the contributions and dedication of nurses worldwide. A nurse mug can be a fitting gift to show appreciation for their hard work and compassionate care.

National Nurses Week: This week-long celebration honors nurses and their vital role in healthcare. Gifting nurse mugs as gifts can be a meaningful way to recognize their efforts.

Graduation: If someone you know is graduating from nursing school or completing a nursing program, a nurse-themed coffee mug can make a practical and thoughtful gift to mark this significant milestone.

Birthdays: Nurses, like everyone else, celebrate birthdays too! A nurse coffee mug personalized with their name, initials, or a nursing-related design can make a wonderful birthday present.

Holidays: Any major holiday, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Thanksgiving, can be an opportunity to express appreciation for a nurse in your life with a coffee mug that reflects their profession and dedication.

Nurse Retirement: When a nurse retires after a long and rewarding career, a nurse coffee mug can be a sentimental gift, symbolizing their years of service and the joy of sipping coffee during well-deserved relaxation.

Thank You Gift: If a nurse has gone above and beyond to provide exceptional care or support during a difficult time, presenting them with a nurse coffee mug can be a heartfelt way to express gratitude.

Remember, while these occasions provide excellent and memorable opportunities to gift a nurse coffee mug, appreciation and recognition for nurses can be expressed at any time. The important thing is to acknowledge their hard work and show your gratitude for the difference they make in people’s lives.

Best Mugs For Nurse’s Advice

So what are the best nurse coffee mugs? The answer may vary from person to person, but we’ve tried to provide a variety of the best options for you to choose from based on reading thousands of reviews.

All you have to do is just click or tap the button to check the selection of colors and prices of the best nurse mugs. Thanks for stopping by!

Additional recommended reading:

Charge Nurse Role: What You Need To Know

Charge Nurse Role: What You Need To Know

Charge Nurse Role: What You Need To Know

One of the most important things to know about being a charge nurse is that effective communication and strong leadership skills are essential. As a charge RN, you will be responsible for coordinating the activities of the nursing staff, ensuring proper patient care, and addressing any issues or conflicts that arise.

The functionality of the nursing unit depends on having a charge nurse with the skills to lead. Great charge nurses are known for keeping the department organized and running efficiently while encouraging great teamwork and inspiring a team of nurses to perform at their best.

“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.” -John Maxwell

What Is A Charge Nurse?

A charge nurse, also sometimes referred to as a charge RN, is a nurse who oversees an entire team of nurses in a particular hospital unit or department. They serve as a liaison between nurses, upper administration, nurse educators, and other hospital clinicians.

Charge RNs are needed to manage hospitals, residential care facilities, nursing homes, surgery centers, and outpatient units. Although they can give direct patient care- and often do if the unit is short-staffed – they mostly work peripherally to bedside nurses and within a more administrative role than medical professionals.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities usually have several charge nurses who are responsible for various health services managers in different departments and specialties.

Charge Nurse Duties And Responsibilities

Some duties include the following:

  • Managing nurses
  • Supervising and assisting nursing staff when needed
  • Providing administrative support
  • Assigning nurses to patients
  • Creating nurse schedules
  • Managing the in and outflow of patients to a unit
  • Being flexible and responsive to nurses’ needs on the unit
  • Prioritize patient care needs, especially during urgent or emergent situations
  • Document nurse performance
  • Work with upper administration to address any hospital issues or issues with staff

Other ancillary charge RN roles might include:

  • Checking the crash carts daily in the unit
  • Counting medications in the Pyxis or other automated drug dispenser once a shift
  • Working with the facility’s patient placement
  • Attend a daily staff meeting with social workers, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, and doctors to make sure patients get what they need for discharge and ensure a timely discharge

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan

How To Become A Charge Nurse?

To become a charge RN, you must already have several years of nursing experience and a deep understanding of the workflow and population where you work. You need to master your nursing skills and, if possible, become as involved as possible with team-building activities in your workplace.

It is also imperative that you express your desire to be promoted to management and ask them precisely what you need to do to earn the position.  Each facility is different.

Note:  It is more challenging to start as a charge RN on a unit where a nurse has never worked before, even if they have many years of nursing practice under their belt. It helps to know many of the nurses already personally, as it helps to build trust as a leader. Knowing other ancillary medical professionals, such as respiratory therapists, social workers, case managers, nurse practitioners, and doctors on the unit, will also help you get started on the right foot.

Tips To Prepare For A Charge Nurse Role:

  • Become certified in your nursing specialty
  • Master your workflow as a nurse
  • Become an expert on nursing skills needed in your unit
  • Offer help to other nurses whenever you can
  • Become a preceptor for new nurse graduates on the unit
  • Express your desire to be promoted into a charge nurse role to administration
  • Take leadership classes, either online or through your facility if they have them
  • Join the Unit Practice Counsel UPC – if your unit has one
  • Offer to help in all team-building projects on your unit

The Difference Between A Charge Nurse And A Unit Manager

A unit manager is sometimes referred to as a unit director. And while both charge RNs and unit managers are leadership positions, they are still very different positions and require different levels of education.

A unit manager oversees the entire nursing unit, including all of the charge nurses. Unit managers also handle more of the business management of the unit than charge RNs do. Also, unit nurse managers typically work more closely with the upper hospital administration to keep the unit aligned with the goals of the entire organization.

Charge nurses must have an ADN or BSN to hold the position.  A unit manager often holds a master’s degree (MSN) or higher, usually with an emphasis on leadership and hospital management.

Additional recommended reading:  Travel Nursing 101:  The Pros, The Cons, And How To Get Started

What Is A Charge Nurse’s Salary?

Charge RNs often make a few dollars an hour more than floor nurses.  However, there are many other factors at play when it comes to earning potential.

The salary of a charge nurse can vary depending on several factors, including geographic location, years of experience, level of education, certifications, and the specific healthcare setting. In general, charge nurses earn a higher salary compared to regular staff nurses due to their additional responsibilities and leadership roles.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for registered nurses (which includes charge nurses) was $76,600 as of May 2021. However, it’s important to note that this figure encompasses all registered nurses across various specialties and positions.

Nurses in states with a higher cost of living, such as California or New York, usually make a higher hourly wage, while other lower cost of living states, such as North Dakota or Iowa, might make less than the median U.S. pay.

It’s best to consult reliable salary resources specific to your location and healthcare system to obtain more accurate and up-to-date information on charge nurse salaries. Additionally, factors such as overtime pay, shift differentials, and benefits can also impact the total compensation package for charge RNs.

Qualities Of A Great Charge Nurse

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”  –

John Maxwell

There is no question that a charge nurse’s role is extremely challenging at times. But a great charge nurse needs to be able to see through the stress and inspire other registered nurses to rise above and perform at their best. Here are three qualities of a great charge nurse.

Resilience – When the work gets tough, great charge nurses get even tougher and push through.  Some days will seem impossible, but resilient leaders persevere.

Emotional Intelligence – The dictionary describes emotional intelligence as: “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and sympathetically.” Many great leaders say emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success.

Decision-making capabilities – Charge nurses need to be able to make quick decisions. The hospital setting moves quickly, and patient safety depends on taking action fast, especially in an emergency.

Certifications To Be A Charge Nurse

To become a charge nurse, you must first be a registered nurse who has graduated from an accredited program. There are several ways to do this – including achieving an associate degree  (ADN), a 2-year degree, or a bachelor’s Degree In Nursing (BSN), which takes a minimum of four years to complete.

While many of the same topics taught at the ADN level are covered in a BSN, a four-year program will provide a deeper set of skills and education. The field of nursing is becoming more competitive and more employers require newly appointed RNs to hold.

There are no national or state certifications to become a charge nurse. However, many charge nurses are certified on the specialty floor where they work. In most cases, the charge nurse worked as an R.N. on the floor for several years and has a clear understanding of the clinical setting and how the unit functions.

Charge Nurse Career Outlook

According to the BLS, the nursing profession is expected to grow by 6% from 2021-2031, which is about as fast as average. That means that there will also be plenty of opportunities for nurses to take on charge roles.

Charge Nurse Frequently Asked Questions

What is the charge nurse’s role?

A charge RN is a registered nurse who takes on additional responsibilities and leadership roles within a healthcare setting, typically on a particular shift or unit. Their primary responsibilities include overseeing the nursing staff, coordinating patient care, and ensuring the smooth functioning of healthcare facilities in the unit.

What is the difference between a charge nurse and a regular nurse?

The main difference between a charge RN and a regular RN is the additional responsibilities and leadership role that a charge nurse assumes. While regular nurses focus primarily on direct patient care, charge nurses have supervisory responsibilities and coordinate the activities of the nursing staff.

Who is higher up than a charge nurse?

In the nursing hierarchy, a charge RN typically falls below a nurse manager or a nurse supervisor. Nurse managers or supervisors are responsible for overseeing multiple units or departments and have broader managerial responsibilities.

What power does a charge nurse have?

Charge nurses have the authority to assign patient care responsibilities to other nurses and healthcare professionals. They coordinate admissions, admissions and discharges,, and transfers, ensure proper documentation, address any conflicts or issues that arise during the shift, and serve as a resource for the nursing staff.

Is a charge nurse over an RN?

A charge nurse is an RN who takes on additional responsibilities and leadership roles. While a charge nurse is an RN, they have specific responsibilities related to overseeing the unit and coordinating patient care, which regular RNs may not have.

Is a charge nurse your boss?

A charge nurse may have some supervisory responsibilities over other nurses and healthcare professionals on the unit, but they are not typically considered the direct boss of the nursing staff. They work alongside nurse managers or supervisors who have broader administrative responsibilities and managerial roles.

How long does it take to be a charge nurse?

The timeline to become a charge RN can vary. Typically, it requires several years of experience as a registered nurse to develop the necessary skills, knowledge, and leadership abilities. Some charge nurse positions may also require additional education or certifications. The exact duration depends on an individual’s progression and professional development.

Is it hard to be a charge nurse?

Being a charge nurse can be challenging as it involves juggling various responsibilities, managing the nursing staff, coordinating patient care, and addressing any issues that arise. It requires strong leadership skills, effective communication, critical thinking, and the ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment. However, with experience, ongoing education, and support, many nurses successfully take on the role of a charge nurse.

Do charge nurses take patients?

Charge nurses may or may not take direct patient assignments, as it depends on the specific policies and needs of the healthcare facility. In some cases, charge nurses may have a reduced patient load to allow them to focus on their administrative and supervisory duties. However, in other situations, charge nurses may continue to provide direct patient care while also overseeing the unit.

Who gets to be a charge nurse?

The criteria for becoming a charge nurse can vary among healthcare facilities. Generally, charge nurses are experienced registered nurses who have demonstrated strong clinical skills, leadership abilities, and the ability to work well with a team. They may also receive additional training, clinical experience, or education related to management or leadership.

Is charge nurse a promotion?

Yes, becoming a charge nurse is often considered a promotion within the nursing profession. It represents an advancement in responsibilities and leadership roles compared to regular nursing positions.

What are the weaknesses of being a charge nurse?

While charge nurses have important responsibilities, they may face challenges such as balancing administrative tasks with patient care, managing conflicts or difficult situations among the staff, dealing with high levels of stress and responsibility, and working long hours or irregular shifts.

Nurse working on a unit taking notes

What Are The Most Important Things To Know About Being In A Charge Nursing Role?

The most important thing to know about this position is that it requires strong leadership skills and the ability to multitask effectively. As a charge RN, you will be responsible for overseeing a team of nurses and ensuring the smooth operation of the unit or department.

Here are some key points to consider:


As a charge RN, you need to provide guidance, support, and direction to your team. Strong leadership skills are essential for effectively delegating tasks, making decisions, and resolving conflicts.


Clear and effective communication is crucial in your role as a charge nurse. You’ll need to communicate with various healthcare professionals, patients, families, and your team. Being able to convey information clearly, listen actively, and provide feedback is essential.


The ability to stay organized is vital as a charge RN. You’ll be responsible for coordinating patient care, managing resources, and ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently. Prioritization and time management skills are essential.

Clinical Expertise

Charge nurses are expected to have a solid clinical foundation and expertise in their specialty area. This knowledge allows you to make informed decisions, provide guidance to your team, and respond appropriately to patient needs and emergencies.


You’ll face various challenges and unexpected situations. The ability to think critically, make quick decisions, and problem-solve effectively is essential. You should be able to remain calm under pressure and adapt to changing circumstances.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Building a positive and collaborative team environment is crucial for charge RNs. Foster open communication, encourage teamwork, and support your team members. Collaboration with other healthcare professionals is also important for coordinated patient care.

Continuous Learning

Healthcare is an ever-evolving field, and it’s important to stay updated with the latest evidence-based practices and advancements in nursing. Pursue opportunities for professional development, attend conferences, and stay informed about current research to enhance your knowledge and skills.

Remember that being a charge RN is a significant responsibility, and it’s important to maintain a balance between leadership and being a supportive team member. By focusing on these key aspects, you can excel in your role and positively impact patient outcomes and the overall functioning of the healthcare unit.


Taking on higher leadership positions in health care, such as charge nurse, can help you create a satisfying and long-term healthcare career, earn a higher salary, and open up more opportunities away from the bedside.

Best of luck in your nursing career!

Additional recommended reading:

Benefits of Per Diem Nursing (PRN Nurse)

Benefits of Per Diem Nursing (PRN Nurse)

What Does Per Diem Mean?

Per diem means “by the day” in Latin.

A per diem nurse is a nurse who is employed on a day-by-day or as-needed basis by a medical or healthcare facility, nursing home, outpatient clinic, or healthcare agency.

Per diem nursing refers to a type of nursing employment arrangement where nurses are hired to fill temporary staffing needs or to provide coverage for absences or shortages.

In per diem nursing, nurses are not employed full-time or part-time with a set schedule. Instead, they have the flexibility to choose the shifts they want to work based on their availability.

What is a PRN or Per Diem Nurse?

PRN is a Latin term for pro re nata, which translates in English to “as the situation demands.” 

“Per diem nursing” and “PRN nursing”  have essentially the same meaning and are often used interchangeably.

Whether your nursing job title is per diem nurse or PRN nurse, you only work when your institution has additional staffing needs that they cannot fill with their own “career” nursing staff.

The increasing demands of medical professionals in today’s healthcare environment – and the fact that patients are living longer (and are often sicker) than ever before – makes having the option to employ a per diem nurse even more essential.

Types of nurses that can work in per diem nursing include:

  • Registered nurse (RN)
  • Licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN)
  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
  • Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), such as nurse practitioners (NPs)

In addition, nurses can take per diem jobs in a variety of different facilities, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Nurse staffing agency
  • Nursing homes
  • Outpatient surgery centers and clinics
  • Home health care

Some per diem nurses work back and forth between multiple institutions or as travel nurses!


About Per Diem Nursing

Many hospitals have their own per diem nursing staff. The fundamental responsibilities needed to be a per diem nurse are the same as career nurses. These nurses may be assigned to one particular unit in a hospital or can be resource nurses who can cover shifts in many different specialties within the hospital setting (as long as they are trained to do so).

Hospital staffing needs usually increase during holiday seasons or during times of high census in the hospital (such as during the COVID-19 pandemic).

In addition, there are nurse staffing agencies that arrange for nurses to work in hospitals that have additional staffing needs they can’t fill. These nurses work for “per diem nursing agencies” and may end up working multiple jobs in a variety of different facilities. Often, these nurses might work a few shifts at one hospital, and then a shift in another facility, all in one week.

Additional recommended reading 5 Non-Bedside Jobs You May Not Know About

Per Diem (PRN) Nurse vs. Full Time Nurse:  What Should I Choose?

Most nurses work full-time, at least for their first few years after graduating from nursing school. Novice nurses need to put the time in and develop their clinical and critical thinking skills.

It takes many years to build up nursing expertise at the bedside, so I would never recommend that a new grad nurse work per diem. If you are considering per diem work as a nursing avenue for your nursing career path, ensure you are experienced enough to manage the stress of working in many different environments.

As a former per diem nurse, I have found many benefits to working per diem nursing jobs that I would not have had if I was working as a “staff” or “career” nurse. If you are teetering on making a change into the per diem nursing career environment, these are the benefits of working as a per diem, or PRN, nurse.


Benefits of Being a Per Diem/PRN Nurse

#1. Higher Pay

Per diem nurses may earn higher pay rates compared to other full-time nurses part-time or part-time career nurses for several reasons:


Per diem nurses provide a valuable service by offering their availability on short notice or during high-demand periods. The flexibility they offer allows healthcare facilities to fill staffing gaps quickly, ensuring continuity of patient care – without making a permanent commitment to the facility.

Premium Pay Rates

Many healthcare facilities offer premium or differential pay rates for per diem nurses. This is because per diem nurses are not entitled to benefits like health insurance, paid time off, or retirement plans that are typically provided to full-time or part-time employees. The higher pay rate for per diem employees helps offset the lack of benefits and compensates for the additional flexibility required.

Specialized Skills or Experience

Per diem nurses often possess specialized skills or experience that make them particularly valuable to healthcare facilities. For example, they may have expertise in critical care, emergency medicine, or other specialized areas. In such cases, their higher pay rate reflects their advanced knowledge and the demand for their specific skills.

Short-Term Commitment

Since per diem nurses are not employed on a regular basis, the higher pay rate may serve as an incentive for them to take on temporary assignments. It compensates them for the uncertainty associated with their work schedule and provides an incentive for more nurses to prioritize per diem shift shifts over other potential opportunities.

NOTE: It’s important to note that while per diem nurses may earn higher hourly rates, they do not receive benefits or job security that full-time employees enjoy. Additionally, their income may vary based on the availability of shifts and the demand for their services, which can fluctuate over time.

#2. You Can Make Your Own Schedule

Per diem nurses have the advantage of being able to create their own schedules based on their availability and preferences. Those in need of a flexible schedule may want to consider becoming a per diem nurse. Here’s an overview of how per diem nurses can make their own schedules:

Per Diem Nurses Communicate Their Availability

Per diem nurses typically inform the healthcare facility or staffing agency about their availability to work. They may provide their availability on a weekly, monthly, or periodic basis. This allows the facility to know when the per diem nurse is willing and able to work.

Shift Selection

Based on the nurse’s communicated availability, the facility or staffing agency will present available shifts for the nurse to choose from. These shifts can vary in terms of timing, duration guaranteed hours, and clinical setting. Per diem nurses can review the available options and select the shifts that align with their preferences and availability.

Flexibility in Accepting Shifts

Per diem nurses have the freedom to accept or decline shifts based on their personal circumstances, preferences, or other commitments. They can choose to work as few or as many shifts as they desire, depending on their needs and availability. This flexibility is one of the primary benefits of being a per diem nurse.

Ongoing Schedule Adjustments

Per diem nurses can update their availability and adjust their schedules as needed. They may communicate changes in their availability due to personal commitments, vacations, or other factors. Similarly, they can request additional shifts or reduce their availability if necessary.

NOTE: It’s important to note that while per diem nurses have the freedom to create their schedules, the availability of shifts is subject to the staffing needs of the healthcare facility. The demand for per diem nurse shifts can fluctuate, and there may be periods of high or low availability based on factors such as patient census, seasonal variations, or unforeseen circumstances.

Also, per diem staff and nurses should remain proactive in maintaining regular communication with their facility or staffing agency to stay informed about available shifts and to ensure a smooth scheduling process.

#3. Per Diem Nurses Can Pick Up Seasonal work

Per diem nurses have the flexibility to pick up extra seasonal work if it aligns with their availability and preferences. Many healthcare facilities experience increased demand during certain seasons or holidays, such as flu season, summer vacations, or winter holidays.

Per diem nurses can take advantage of these opportunities to earn additional income or gain experience in different clinical settings too.

Additional recommended reading:  8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Nurse

#4. Per Diem/ PRN Nurses Can Often Decline Shifts

Unlike career nurses, who often have guaranteed hours and do not have complete control of their schedules, per diem nurses can choose to decline shifts if they don’t jive with their schedule.

This means that if you don’t want to work nights, holidays, or weekends, you usually don’t have to (or at least not as often).

#5. Per Diem Nurses Can Add a Shift at the Last Minute

One of the best benefits of a per diem nursing career is that PRN nurses can work between different hospitals at the same time. This often works well because if they end up getting canceled at one hospital, they can call the staffing office at their other hospital to see if they have any per diem nursing needs.

#6. Cancel a Shift at the Last Minute

Working parents understand the need for flexible scheduling. If your child (or yourself) becomes ill the day or two before a per diem work shift, then you have an opportunity to cancel yourself ahead of time. You don’t need to worry about whether or not you have enough paid vacation time or sick time saved up.

#7. Opportunity to Cross-Train in Different Specialties

Per diem nursing often offers additional learning and career growth opportunities at a healthcare facility because staffing needs require coverage in many different specialty areas.

For example, a per diem emergency room nurse, who also floats to ICU units, might also be able to cross-train for a PACU unit if they have staffing needs. Or a per diem pediatric ER nurse might get training to work in the adult ER if the need for a per diem nurse arises.

Another example is a per diem nurse who specializes in the NICU might be cross-trained for post-partum or antepartum units if they need additional nursing support.

Nurses who can be flexible and want mental stimulation may find that they have more opportunities than ever to work. When you have experience working in multiple facilities and several different nursing specialties, then you have a decreased chance of being canceled and not making any extra money for that day. Having experience in many different per diem nursing jobs can provide increased job stability and add valuable work experience to your resume.

#8. Per Diem Nursing Allows You to Add Vacation Time Into Your Schedule Without Taking Time Off

For per diem employees of nurses, there is no need to ask for paid vacation because it is possible to build vacation time right into your schedule. So go ahead and book that summer vacation!

For example, full-time per diem nurses often work three 12-hour shifts a week. You can schedule yourself to work on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday one week, and then on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the next week. That leaves you with eight days off in between your shifts to hop on a plane for a week’s vacation.

Or just add in extra shifts early in the month and take the rest of the month off!

#9. Part-Time Per Diem Nursing

Many nurses who only want to work part-time appreciate the option to work in per diem nursing. Whether you have small children at home, want a better work-life balance, or have other side careers that you are pursuing, per diem nursing allows you to have that flexibility without altogether leaving the bedside, or your profession, behind.

As nurses get closer to retirement, some may choose to work a little less. If that is the case, then per diem nursing work is a great option. You can keep your foot in the nursing industry, keep your nursing skills and knowledge sharp, and continue to bring in some income while also having time to dedicate to the other passions in your life.

In conclusion

I hope this article helped you clarify whether or not being a per diem or PRN nurse is right for you. There are many factors to consider, but it is wonderful to work in a profession where this type of work environment is possible.

Additional recommended reading:



Pros And Cons Of 12 Hour Shifts

Pros And Cons Of 12 Hour Shifts

For dedicated nurses who work long hours on the front lines of healthcare, the 12-hour nursing shift has become increasingly popular. While it may sound daunting, these extended shifts offer a range of benefits that make a significant impact on both nurses and patients.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of working 12-hour nursing shifts, highlighting their effects on work-life balance, patient care, and professional growth. Let’s dive in!

Nurse standing with her arms crossed

Pros of Working 12-Hour Nursing Shifts:

By understanding the advantages of these longer shifts, nurses may be able to make more informed decisions about their work schedules. Let’s explore the numerous benefits that 12-hour shifts bring to the table.

Longer Breaks and More Days Off

One of the notable advantages of 12-hour nursing shifts is the extended break periods. With longer breaks, nurses can recharge, refuel, and engage in self-care activities. Additionally, the compressed schedule often allows for more consecutive days off, providing valuable time for personal pursuits, family commitments, and leisure activities that can enhance work-life balance.

For example, throughout my career at the bedside, I appreciated 12-hour shifts as they allowed me to have four days off every week. This allowed me to spend more quality time with my family on my days off!

Who doesn’t want to work fewer days in a week?  When you work 12-hour shifts as a full-time nurse, you get to work three days a week instead of Five.  That also means that you have four days off every week instead of only two, like most other professions.  


Enhanced Continuity of Care

Working longer shifts promotes improved continuity of care for patients. Nurses who work on units where patients stay for an extended period have the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their patients, gaining deeper insights into their conditions, needs, and preferences. This continuity allows nurses to provide more personalized and holistic care, resulting in better patient outcomes.

Reduced Handoffs and Communication Errors

With fewer shift changes, there is a decrease in handoffs and communication errors between nurses. This streamlined workflow enhances patient safety by minimizing the chances of critical information being overlooked or miscommunicated. It also improves efficiency, as nurses can focus more on patient care rather than spending excessive time on shift handovers.

Deeper Collaboration and Team Bonding

Although it may seem counterintuitive, extended shifts may encourage stronger collaboration and team bonding among nurses. Spending more time together fosters a sense of camaraderie, trust, and shared responsibility. Nurses can support and rely on each other, resulting in a more cohesive and efficient healthcare team.

Better Work-Life Balance

Working fewer days a week provides nurses with a better work-life balance. The extended time off allows nursesto prioritize self-care, spend quality time with family and friends, and engage in activities that rejuvenate them mentally and physically. This balance may help to prevent burnout and increase overall job satisfaction.

(In addition, working as a per diem nurse has given me an even greater work-life balance. I could choose to work as little as one day a week or as many as four or five as long as the hospital has a need for nurses.)

Financial Advantages

For nurses who prefer longer shifts, 12-hour schedules can bring financial benefits. Working fewer days in a week means that nurses can take advantage of potential overtime opportunities, allowing them to earn additional income. 

Flexibility and Freedom

Working 12-hour nursing shifts often provides flexibility and freedom in scheduling. Many healthcare facilities offer various shift options, allowing nurses to select shifts that align with their personal preferences and commitments. This flexibility can be particularly valuable for nurses with childcare responsibilities, those pursuing further education, or those who simply prefer longer stretches of time off.

Working 12-hour shifts allowed me to get more creative with my work schedule. That factor has always been so important to me as a working mom. I wanted to be available when my kids needed me to be home from work. In addition, I often felt that I got to experience what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom and have the ability to also work full-time.

Less Commuting to Work (Save Time & Gas!)

Working three days a week instead of a more traditional Monday through Friday schedule means that you spend significantly less time commuting to work. In addition, if some of those days fall on a weekend, then you can miss traffic completely! 

Personally, I don’t love working on the weekend because I prefer to be home with my family; however, I do appreciate how fast I can get to and from work.  That is something to consider when you live in a high-traffic city such as Los Angeles. 

You Can Take “Mini-Vacations” Without Using Vacation Time

When you have the option to have several days off in between workdays, it becomes possible to take mini-vacations without putting in a vacation request.  In fact, I have taken up to a week off at a time to go to Mexico without using any vacation days.  

When you consolidate your hours into longer periods of time per day, then you can take more days off in a row.  For example, if I am putting my schedule in for a two-week period, I can request a Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for the first week and a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the second week.  That leaves me with eight days off in between!

Summary of the Pros of Working 12-Hour Nursing Shifts

From improved work-life balance and enhanced patient care to opportunities for professional growth and financial advantages, these longer shifts provide a supportive and fulfilling environment for nurses. While they may require endurance and adaptability, the rewards are well worth it. By embracing the positives of 12-hour shifts, nurses can thrive in their careers and make a significant difference in the lives of their patients.


Additional recommended reading:  12 Nurse Essentials I Can’t Live Without


pros and cons of 12 hour nursing shifts

There are pros and cons to working 12-hour nursing shifts that you may want to consider.

Cons Of Working 12-Hour Nursing Shifts:

While 12-hour nursing shifts offer certain advantages, it is important to acknowledge that they also present unique challenges. These extended work hours can impact nurses physically, emotionally, and socially. Here we will explore some of the cons associated with 12-hour shifts, shedding light on the potential difficulties nurses may face. 

Physical Fatigue and Exhaustion 

Extended shifts can lead to physical fatigue and exhaustion for nurses. Long hours of continuous work, often involving physically demanding tasks, can take a toll on the body. Prolonged periods of standing or lifting patients can lead to muscle strain, joint pain, and increased risk of workplace injuries.

Many nurses work 12-hour shifts with minimal breaks. We are lifting and pulling patients, often spending the majority of our day on our feet, managing stressful and sometimes critical situations while doing everything we can to get through the shift! 

Increased Risk of Burnout

The demanding nature of 12-hour shifts can contribute to a higher risk of burnout among nurses. The combination of physical exhaustion, emotional stress, and the need to consistently provide high-quality care can leave nurses feeling emotionally drained and overwhelmed. This chronic stress can impact job satisfaction, mental well-being, and overall work performance.

A University of Pennsylvania study on hospital nurses found that the longer the shift, the higher the levels of burnout and patient dissatisfaction.  The researchers discovered that nurses working shifts that were ten hours or longer were up to two and a half times more likely than nurses working shorter shifts to experience burnout and job dissatisfaction.

One reason may be that longer shifts give nurses less time in a day to care for themselves.  I have found it challenging to do any self-care on days I worked 12-hour shifts because nearly every waking hour is spent caring for patients.  Furthermore, the study found that nurse burnout associated with longer shifts increased the chances of the nurse wanting to leave the job.   

Disrupted Work-Life Balance

Working longer shifts can disrupt work-life balance, especially for nurses with family or personal commitments. The extended hours spent at work may limit quality time spent with loved ones or engaging in activities outside of work. This imbalance can lead to feelings of guilt, strain relationships, and hinder self-care practices.

Impact on Sleep Patterns 

Extended shifts can disrupt sleep patterns, as nurses may struggle to find adequate time for restorative sleep. The irregular and often overnight schedules can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or obtaining sufficient rest. This can result in fatigue, decreased alertness, and impaired cognitive function.

Challenges in Patient Safety

Prolonged work hours can potentially compromise patient safety. Fatigue and decreased alertness due to long shifts increase the likelihood of errors in medication administration, documentation, or patient assessments. Nurses need to be vigilant in recognizing the impact of fatigue on their performance and take necessary precautions to ensure optimal patient care.

If You Have Kids, You Probably Won’t See Them On The Days You Work

As a nurse and mom, one of the worst parts of working 12-hour shifts is that I don’t get to see my children at all on the days that I work.  They are still asleep when I leave for work at 6 o’clock in the morning and they are already in bed by the time I get home at 8:30 PM.  Even worse, when I work back-to-back shifts, I may not see them at all for 24 to 36 hours at a time.  I could as easily have been out-of-town as far as they are concerned.  Nursing is a good career for moms, but this is still something you may want to consider.

Summary of the Con of Working 12-Hour Nursing Shifts

While 12-hour nursing shifts have their advantages, it is essential to recognize and address the potential cons they bring. Healthcare organizations and nurses themselves should prioritize strategies to mitigate the challenges associated with extended shifts, such as implementing fatigue management programs, promoting self-care practices, and fostering a supportive work environment.

By understanding and addressing these cons, nurses can navigate the complexities of 12-hour shifts while maintaining their well-being and providing the best possible care to their patients.


My Personal Take on Working 12-Hour Shifts

Working a 12-hour nursing shift makes for a very long workday.  But I’ve always seen it as the price I must pay for getting to spend more days at home. So, the benefits of the 12-hour shift far outweigh the cons for me.  Admittedly though, I really do focus on the benefits of working 12-hour shifts as much as I can. I must remind myself to stay positive.  

I have always been grateful to have work flexibility that allows me to spend more uninterrupted days off with my family than I would have with a standard 9 to 5 schedule. When I think about it in that way, I realize I am lucky to get to have the best of both worlds.

Additional recommended reading: