5 Benefits of Night Shift Nursing for Travel RNs
By Anita Wong, contributor
Patients need care around the clock, making night shifts an essential part of travel nursing. While working nonstandard hours isn't for everyone, if you're able to — or willing to — the night shift can be rewarding. Here are some of the benefits of night shift nursing for travel RNs and why you should give it a chance.
1. It can be quieter
While units such as emergency or ICU can still be hectic at night, other floors tend to be calmer.
Glenda Hargrove, an RN who enjoys working the late shift. "There's more time to focus on your patients and your duties," she explains. "You don't have constant interruption or the hustle and bustle of visitors coming in and out. It's mostly just your essential staff and patients."
You still have to put 100% into your work, but the quieter environment may make it easier to manage your time and prioritize. "You don't necessarily have downtime but you do have more time to devote toward what you need to get done," said Hargrove. "You can better plan your activities."
2. The pay is usually better
Because many people prefer working days, employers often offer higher compensation to entice nurses to take a night shift to ensure continued patient care. Known as shift differential, this bump in pay is common in healthcare staffing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that comprises 1.2% of total gross earnings in healthcare compared to 0.3% in all service industries.
In addition to earning better pay on a night shift, you may also find it easier to get a position in a desired specialty. With more RNs choosing a standard workday, there's usually less competition for overnight assignments.
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3. You have more autonomy
Just 6% of healthcare practitioners such as doctors, nurses and paramedics are on the job at 1 a.m., according to the BLS.
With fewer staff on duty, night shift workers must be more autonomous and self-reliant. This is an excellent way to grow professionally and exercise your independence and critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. This doesn't mean you're on your own, but the slower-paced environment may give you more time to focus on your clinical skills, collaborate with colleagues and learn from veteran nurses.
You can also enjoy meaningful, one-on-one interaction with patients. As visiting hours are over and patients find themselves on their own, you can better connect with them through conversation and provide support while their families are away.
4. There's a special night shift camaraderie
We all have different work styles, and nurses who prefer solitude may enjoy the peaceful night shift. At the same time, there's a special sense of teamwork among those left working together when everyone else has gone home. According to nurses surveyed by Medscape, the less frenetic pace of the overnight shift creates a casual energy that facilitates friendships.
Those who work the night shift often describe the camaraderie as the best part of the job. Shazia Memon, a pediatric critical care nurse in New York City, wrote in The Atlantic about how she stayed on nights longer than expected because of her connection to her colleagues. Similarly, the rapport between doctors, nurses, technicians and clerks is one reason ER physician Robert Rattner looks forward to the night shift, as discussed in Emergency Medicine News.
5. Your daylight hours are free
Another benefit of night shift nursing is that it gives you time to accomplish things during the day. "I'm not tied up at a job working all day long," explains Hargrove. She fits in banking, doctor's appointments and activities with her children during the day.
This flexibility is also convenient for travel nurses who want to explore their new destination while the sun is shining. Making it easier to sightsee and explore local attractions while they’re open.
And don’t forget…
Working nights isn't always easy, but by putting a few simple techniques into action and practicing self-care, it's possible to thrive in this environment.
Discover the benefits of night shift nursing with an exciting short-term travel assignment. It's a great way to try something new without committing to the hours permanently.
Search available travel RN jobs on TravelNursing.com by specialty, location or shift to find one that suits your goals.