Surviving 12-hour Shifts

Work schedules may vary by profession, and 12-hour shifts are common for healthcare professionals. 12-hour shifts cause fewer disruptions in the healthcare process, which could be the difference between life and death, due to the continuous care that healthcare professionals provide to patients.

Some of the more common healthcare professionals that work long hours are:

Photo by Karolina Grabowska
  • Surgeons
  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Care/Support workers

12-hour shifts are also common in the skilled trades industry. Skilled trades professionals such as construction workers, electricians, engineers, machinists, plumbers, and welders work 12-hour shifts because their essential skills help to keep society running smoothly.

Health and safety concerns can arise for individuals who work long shifts. One of the many concerns is fatigue. Fatigue is a feeling of mental and physical exhaustion, and this is common for individuals working their very first 12-hour shift. Another major health and safety concern is burnout, which usually happens after prolonged periods of emotional stress and frustration. Skilled trades and healthcare professionals who work 12-hour shifts are more at risk of fatigue and burnout, which could result in workplace accidents. This is because of the nature and demand of their jobs, compared to individuals who work shorter shift durations, and in less hazardous environments.   

12-hour shifts are challenging, but you can do it. Your work has a significant impact on people’s lives. After a couple of 12-hour shifts, your normal cycle of daily human functions such as sleeping, waking, and digestion can be disrupted and could lead to health problems. Don’t worry! Help is on the way! 

7 tips for surviving 12-hour shifts:

  • Get enough sleep (between 7 and 9 hours per day/night)
  • Pack healthy food for your shift
  • Drink enough water (health experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses)
  • Take scheduled breaks
  • Wear comfort work gear 
  • Try to get along with your co-workers
  • Practice self-care
Photo by Ella Olsson 

Trying to manage a work schedule that involves 12-hour shifts can be challenging, but you can do it. Have a plan, be well prepared and find the routine that works best for you. We hope these tips and resources can help you to manage your 12-hour shifts. Please visit us at buywomensworkwear to get comfortable and affordable workwear. 

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