Scientific Method of Nursing Shifts

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Are day shift nurses busier than night shift nurses on a general medical unit busier during a 12 hour shift? It is the question that no night shift nurse wants to admit (I think). My hypothesis is that day shift is busier because the day shift staff frequently stay late to finish work and night shift nurses are gone normally within 15 minutes of shift change. During the observation, I have worked 4 day shifts and 4 night shifts in the last 2 weeks. After working with multiple nurses and recognizing their work ability and quality of care given to the patients, there was not a noticeable difference between the day staff and the night staff that would cause concern with the amount of time it takes to complete an entire shift. Something that is taken into consideration is the acuity of the patients and the number of patients per nurse. During the 4 days of day shifts I worked, I noticed many things that come along without recognizing in the past the only the day shift does. Some of the day requirements include: handling meals, assisting specialty physicians that come during business hours only, normal hospitalist daily rounding, family/visitors, surgeries, changes in daily medications/procedures, and discharging patients home. These listed requirements are frequently very time consuming. During the night shifts, I realized the amount of downtime the staff has. 3 of the 4 night at least 2 staff members left the hospital for fast food, which is not comparable to the fact that many day shift nurses are frequently unable to eat lunch they brought from home due to the amount of work they face. Many of the night staff members bring electronics to play on and a lot of students work the night shift for study time. There were multiple occasions when I could hardly stay awake because of boredom during the night. After working the 4 days, I was able to leave the hospital

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