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Nursing Overtime - The Pros, Cons & It All Makes Sense

26 August
2021

Nursing Overtime - The Pros, Cons & It All Makes Sense

As per the Nursing Salary Guide published in 2018, the overtime hours a nurse has to incur can either be very emotionally and physically draining or a great way to make some extra dollars - there's honestly no in between. Regardless if you love overtime or absolutely dread them, but in all honesty you will still work more than the hours you've initially committed to.

On an average, a nurse works more than nine hours on a weekly basis. While this overtime should be based on choice, but in reality, it is actually a compulsion.

Need for Overtime:

There is a shortage of nurses which means that hospitals and other clinical settings have to make use of the staff a lot more than committed. This means that they have to ask their staff on a routine basis to work overtime.

Technically, the overtime a nurse does falls into two distinct categories:

Voluntary Overtime: a paid overtime that a nurse opt for willingly for financial gains or acquiring more on job experience.

Mandatory Overtime: This overtime involves the overtime, a nurse has to do on mandatory basis beyond the scope of their contracted shift. This overtime generally happens after a nurse work 36 to 40 hours per week. This overtime can be as minimal as the hour a nurse waits for shift change, or it can be as much as a complete shift that can be a result of shortage of nurses.

For some nurses, when their supervisor calls and asks them to come for a shift, there is a feeling of pride and accomplishments. When you are called exclusively, it gives a feeling that the department needs you, the patient needs you and you are important. That's why nurses are called superheroes without capes.

At times, the line between mandatory and voluntary overtime is obscured for nurses who have committed their careers and lives to help the suffering humanity.

The Downside of Mandated Overtime

First and foremost, nobody wants to work longer than what they anticipate. It hampers the work life and domestic life balance which everyone strives to achieve. However, mandated overtime has some serious consequences. According to various studies conducted, there is a relationship between nurse burnout, long shifts and patient's dissatisfaction. The various studies conclude that when a nurse works extra hours, the patients tend to be dissatisfied with the care. This results in a feeling of being overworked alongside the urge of leaving the job more than those who work for a 10 hours shifts. The longer hours you work, your energy levels go down, mood shifts take place and you are likely to be more agitated and grumpy.

When you gain experience, you realize exactly when it is in your benefit to pick overtime and when to let it pass. This perspective comes with wisdom and time. A new nurse may not have the ability to gauge where they need to limit and often find themselves to be in a fix working for straight 60 hours a week. You cannot honestly kill yourself to simply pay off your student loans, rather you need time to decompress. The best advice you can give such nurses is to strike a balance.

According to a nursing shift study conducted in University of Pennsylvania, there is a higher dissatisfaction amongst patients with nurses who work for longer shifts.

The reason for this dissatisfaction includes poor communication, ineffective pain management or not getting adequate care. The study concludes that patients perceive that they are not getting good care if the nurses are working for more than 13 hours in general.

The Pros of Working Overtime

Well, this one is quite obvious, "MONEY"!!

Overtime, despite it is mandatory or voluntary results in a premium wage calculated as time and a half. Those nurses who opt for this premium shifts which includes night calls and weekend shifts that are dreaded by all result in a double time alongside a bonus.

Some nurses receive almost $1000 every two weeks for taking premium shifts or working overtime. It generally becomes hard for people to say no to such kind of cash. Such opportunities do not come every passing day.

Balance It All

Like all other professions, nurses aspire to maintain a work life balance. For some, having a life is far more important than the money, hence priorities tend to vary. In an ideal scenario, it should be the choice of nurses to decide how much they want to work overtime. Moreover, some states, have laws that prohibit hospitals and clinics from mandatory overtime.