Pediatric nurses spend their days with children. They might also spend their nights with children, depending on their work shift. Just how much time is dependent on the shift they work, whether they rotate shifts, and what work hours their employer selects. For example, a nurse might work an eight-hour shift or a 12-hour shift. She could work a day shift, evening shift or night shift. The options are, if not quite endless, certainly numerous.
The Eight-Hour Routine
Eight-hour shifts in a 24-hour institution such as a hospital require three shifts to cover the full time period. Typical shifts begin between 7 and 8 in the morning. Another shift, called the "swing" or "PM" shift, begins between 3 and 4 p.m. Night shift begins between 11 p.m. and midnight. Pediatric nurses on eight-hour shifts usually rotate days off so that all have an opportunity to have a weekend off periodically. With an eight-hour shift pattern, a pediatric nurse works five day, "swing" or night shifts each week.
Many hospitals offer 12-hour shifts, which typically begin between 7 and 8 a.m. and 7 and 8 p.m. This type of work schedule eliminates the "swing" shift position. Rotating days off is also typical with this sort of shift pattern, especially in hospitals, to allow occasional weekend days off. Pediatric nurses on 12-hour shifts are normally scheduled for only three days a week, although some nurses choose to work an extra day to increase their income.
Mixing and Matching
In addition to the eight- or 12-hour shift pattern, some organizations have a mix of both or may use 10-hour work shifts. Pediatric nurses who work 10-hour shifts work four days a week. Some departments that have a need for extra nurses at certain times of the day might combine the various schedules. Emergency rooms, for example, may have predictable patterns related to traffic accidents or demand in evening hours, when pediatricians or pediatric clinics are closed, and may add extra staff to cover these contingencies.
Work settings can affect working hours. In work settings such as outpatient care centers or clinics, the nurse may work a day shift Monday through Friday and then have the weekend off. Home care nurses may work similar hours but take call on weekends. Clinics could have a typical day shift of eight hours and also have evening shifts of three or four hours. In some work settings, nurses work rotating shifts -- a few days or weeks working days, then swing or night shifts. Rotating shifts is one of the most difficult work patterns because it disrupts circadian rhythms and negatively affects your health, according to "Nurse Zone."
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.