Shift Work Impact on Nurses’ Performance

My name is (name), and I am a registered nursing practitioner in (state). Today, I am writing to request your assistance in the introduction of the new legislation, aimed at improving the working conditions of shift nurses. Current bills on the matter do not provide evidence of sufficient support and guidance for the healthcare professionals in the industry, allowing for consecutive overtime shifts compensated by monetary payments.

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Twelve-hour working shifts pose a serious threat both to the nurse and the patient’s well-being. As explained by Han, Trinkoff, and Geiger-Brown (2014), when working overtime, healthcare professionals have a higher risk of experiencing chronic fatigue, sleep deprivation, and occupational injuries. Thompson, Stock, and Banuelas (2017) also suggested that long cumulative work hours contribute to the nurses’ loss of focus, decreased level of attention, and lower motor control, which leads to a decline in their performance. All the aforementioned symptoms have adverse effects on the quality of care provided to the patients; thus, need to be minimized to prevent erroneous actions of the healthcare practitioners.

Introduction of the new bill provides for the better working conditions of nurses by:

  • Outlining new standards of scheduling for shift nurses.

As noted by Jeffery, Borum, and Englebright (2017), the previous jurisdiction allows for unhealthy shift patterns in nurses. These scheduling options include working “more than three consecutive 12-hour shifts,” rotating between night and day shifts over 24 hours, and overtime hours (Jeffery et al., 2017, p. 46). The new bill should eradicate the aforementioned scheduling alternatives and set up requirements for a healthier schedule. Several suggestions to better standards of scheduling are installing optional permanent night shifts and introducing clockwise rotation of shifts, meaning that a healthcare professional should work either one-day or one-night shifts in 24 hours.

  • Obligating healthcare managers to provide education on sleep hygiene.

As mentioned by Han et al. (2014), nurses, on average, sleep less than 5 hours between the shifts. Hazardous to the healthcare professional’s performance, such sleep deprivation frequently results from a lack of support and education from the department’s managers (Han et al., 2014). In addition to more convenient scheduling options, nurses should be trained on how to foster a healthy sleeping environment for proper recovery after night shifts. Practical implications of this suggestion include administration of the hospital providing practitioners with educational training, supplying dark sunglasses for safer driving after work, and designating a space for a quick nap after a night shift.

  • Involving nurses in the scheduling process.

To achieve balanced scheduling options and provide a proper sleeping routine after night shifts, nurses should participate in the process of scheduling. Jeffrey et al. (2017) wrote that delegating schedule creation directly to employees may lead to a higher level of employee engagement and help to resolve any hidden conflict schedules. Furthermore, this practice completely eradicates the component of unfairness in weekend assignments since a practitioner takes ownership of the shifts chosen (Jeffrey et al., 2017). Instead of compensating unhealthy overtime shifts with a monetary payment, the new bill will allow for flexible scheduling alternatives, encouraging nurses to self-plan their working hours by the legal requirements.

Summary and Recommendations

New legislation introduced will help to address critical issues in the nursing profession. Symptoms of chronic fatigue, loss of attention, and sleep deprivation significantly reduce the practitioner’s capacity of providing high-quality care for the patient, calling for urgent changes in the working conditions. New suggestions include installing better standards of scheduling, involving nurses in the process of agenda creation, and obligating healthcare managers to provide education on sleep hygiene.

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The aforementioned strategies should improve the nurse’s physical and emotional recovery after the shift, leading to better performance. Therefore, I ask you to support the introduction of the new legislation to enhance the working conditions of shift nurses in (state). Changes in the existing policies, explained earlier, are vital to the overall well-being and professional performance of healthcare professionals.

References

Han, K., Trinkoff, A. M., & Geiger-Brown, J. (2014). Factors associated with work-related fatigue and recovery in hospital nurses working 12-hour shifts. Workplace Health & Safety, 62(10), 409–414. Web.

Jeffery, A. D., Borum, C., & Englebright, J. (2017). Healthy schedules, healthy nurses. American Nurse Today, 12(10), 46-47. Web.

Thompson, B. J., Stock, M. S., & Banuelas, V. K. (2017). Effects of accumulating work shifts on performance-based fatigue using multiple strength measurements in day and night shift nurses and aides. Human Factors, 59(3), 346–356. Web.

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