Longer nursing shifts cause dropouts, unhappy patients

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Longer nursing shifts cause dropouts, unhappy patients
Longer nursing shifts cause dropouts, unhappy patients

Nurses who work long shifts are more likely to leave the profession, and also have dissatisfied patients, a new study has discovered.

Nurses working shifts of 10 hours or more were up to two-and-a-half times more likely to experience burnout and job dissatisfaction when compared to nurses working shorter shifts, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found. 

The investigators said their examination of 23,000 registered nurses over three years is the first to look at the relationships between nurse shift length and the patients' report of their care quality. Sixty-five percent of nurses studied reported working shifts of 12 to 13 hours.

Seven out of 10 patient outcomes were significantly and adversely affected by the longest shifts, researchers said. 

Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, Ph.D., RN, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at Penn Nursing, offered recommendations such as restrictions on nurse shift length and voluntary overtime, and that nurse managers should monitor which nurses are working second jobs. 

She also said nurse leadership should create a workplace culture that respects days off and vacation days, encourages nurses to leave at the end of a shift and not punish nurses who refuse to work overtime. 

Study results appeared in Health Affairs in November. 



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