Newly licensed nurses are predominantly working 12-hour shifts and nearly half work overtime. And more than 1 in 10 have a second job, according to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
The study, conducted by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing in New York City, analyzed surveys from more than 4,500 newly licensed nurses in 13 states and Washington, D.C.
The researchers found newly licensed nurses work 39.4 hours per week on average, mostly in 12-hour shifts. More than 13 percent reported having a second paid job. New nurses said they prefer working the day shift, and the preferred shift length is 12 hours.
Additionally, 12 percent of nurses reported working mandatory overtime, an average of less than an hour in a typical week. Nearly half (45.6 percent) work voluntary overtime, an average of three hours in a typical week.
Researchers called the overtime findings concerning. Previous studies have linked overtime to medication errors and occupational injury among nurses such as needle sticks, as well as burnout and job dissatisfaction.
While voluntarily overtime can be a welcome source of extra income for some nurses, mandatory overtime — restricted by law in 18 states — was widespread.