What Are The Hours Of A Registered Nurses?

What Are Registered Nurses? And What Do They Do?

Registered Nurses give around the clock care to patients in healthcare facilities. Doctors diagnose and prescribe patients medication and treatment. Nurses are the ones that administer the medication and carry out that treatment. Nurses make it possible for patients to receive full time care and return back to health.

Nurses monitor a patient’s condition. Plus, they can operate medical machinery to ensure the patient is being taken care of adequately. They provide medical assistance to doctors, nurse practitioners, and other nurses. Nurses always need to be present when healthcare staff is dealing with unstable or unpredictable patient situations.

Other nurse responsibilities include periodically checking the status of a patient, administering medications, providing patient specific treatment, helping patients through rehabilitation programs, and recording patient symptoms and recovery status.

Nurses keep records of the patient’s treatment history, assess the patient for specific injury or illness, and provide the other healthcare professionals with patient status and medical opinion on the patient’s condition and health.

What Are Their Hours Like?

Most registered nurses work 12 hour shifts for 3 days a week. This is how most healthcare facilities handle their nursing shift rotations. However, there are some healthcare organizations where registered staff nurses work 9pm to 5pm from Monday to Friday or 4 (10 hour) shifts a week.

Nurses usually have day shifts or night shifts. For day shifts, nurses usually start at 7am and end at 7pm. For night shifts it is the exact opposite schedule, 7pm to 7am. The good thing about working nights is that you get a small bump in hourly pay. This makes the night shift more desirable to work for some nurses.

Nurses that work 8 or 10 hour days, usually work 40 hours per week. As opposed to the nurses that work 12 hour shifts (most of them), only work 36 hours week. Both of these cases are considered full time work for healthcare facilities. These hours do not include volunteer or overtime.

Why Do Nurses Work At Night?

​Hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities are always open. Patients need 24/7 care. Their status can change from stable to critical in a heartbeat. Therefore there needs to be someone monitoring their conditions at all hours of the day and ready to respond with the proper care if need be.

This is especially true in the intensive care unit and emergency room. These nurses are always dealing with patients who need around the clock care. If a patient in critical care begins to fall in an unstable condition at 2am and no nurse is there to respond, the results for the patient could be life threatening.

In order to give the best care to these patients, nurses need to work night shifts. Plus, they need to be fully alert on the night shift and ready to help patients when needed.

What About Volunteer Or Overtime Hours?

Overtime and Volunteer hours are common at some healthcare facilities and might add to the amount of hours staff nurse works during the week. In many circumstances, nurses choose to work overtime in order to meet the labor demands of the hospital or make some extra money.

Many factors depend on if a nurse works overtime or not.
1). The patient load. How many patients need care at any point in time?
2).  Are there enough nurses to meet that demand?
3). Does the nurse want to make some extra money?
4). The healthcare facility allow nurses to pick up extra shifts?

Keep in mind though, other places such as schools and private practices, will only need for the nurses to work during operating hours. Hence, the labor demand is not as high.

Nurses can also make some serious cash by working 1 or 2 shifts overtime a week. Every healthcare facility will offer time and half for overtime plus the night time or weekend pay differential. Keep that in mind, you are allowed to work a lot of overtime.

See also Nursing conversions


There you have it. That is a detailed look into what the hours of a registered nurse look like. Remember that a lot of things are contingent on where you  work.

Different employers have different policies. Therefore, there is no set way on how to set a nurse’s hours industry wide. It will depend on where you work.

I hope this post was helpful to you.