Nurses work on a rotating schedule and are assigned shifts. Given this, nurses have to work the night shift on certain days. Working the night shift is basically being up and about and ready for anything, while 80% of the world relaxes, closes their eyes, and well, sleeps. At my workplace, a very few nurses really want to work the night shift. There may be some who like it for personal (and medical e.g. insomnia) reasons, but there are only a few of my colleagues who would genuinely want to work the shift. Some nurses may want to work the night shift because of the differential pay, but most nurses only work during the night shift because they are required to do so, and not really because they like to.
There are many pros and cons as to working the night shift. The pros are: a less-strict implementation of rules, absence of nursing administrators and directors, absence of visitors, differential pay, less (to none) doctor’s rounds, and a generally peaceful environment. There is however, a price, for everything. The night shift has its hazards towards health. According to a Medscape article, some hazards include:
- Increased risk for breast cancer and colorectal cancer;
- Increase in inflammatory markers (IL-6, C-reactive protein, white blood cells, neutrophils, lymphocytes, and platelets);
- Irregular menstrual cycles and reduced fertility;
- Increased risk for ischemic stroke;
- Increased wrist and hip fracture;
- Pronounced insulin response to eating;
- Increased development of the metabolic syndrome ;
- Increase in type 2 diabetes;
- Increased blood pressure;
- Increased cardiovascular disease; and
- Increased risk for mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression.
I personally like the night shift. No doctors. No visitors. Minimal Pressure. Quiet. Then again, it could be just me. Hazards aside, there are also some nurses who just so love the shift. It is still a matter of preference. The night shift is part of our work as nurses as our clients need 24/7 continuity of care. We must be able to provide our clients with care. Still, is the night shift pay really worth it considering the price you put on health?