December 9, 2023


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Tips for Creating a Perfect Nurse Schedule

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Nurse Schedule: 5 Tips for Creating a Perfect Roster

What is the typical shift for a nurse? Do nurses pick their own schedule? What is the best night shift schedule for nurses?  Creating schedules for each individual nurse could be overwhelming and confusing, especially if it is your first time doing so. Here are some ideas for creating a perfect nurse schedule and 5 tips for creating a perfect nurse schedule.

  1. Shift trading

There are going to be instances where nurses want to trade shifts with each other. There might be an emergency or they have to do something during that day so they decide to trade a shift with their co-worker so that they could go do that other responsibility that they have. Allow it.

Trading shifts would be able to help the nurse in so many ways, but you also have to keep in mind that it is only going to be effective if you monitor the entire thing completely so that you could make sure that people who are covering that specific shift have the right qualifications for that department. 

  1. Work preferences

When you are creating a schedule for nurses, you have to make sure that you know their preferences when it comes to how that specific nurse would like the work and make a schedule that would satisfy and keep yourself safe. Nurses have lives outside the hospital, some have their own families they have to take care of, and some are still in school and are trying to balance their work and school life. 

Knowing their work preferences and making their schedules work with those said preferences would really make them appreciate you more since it shows that as a manager, you care about what they think and how they feel. This would also make the atmosphere light since they are working the shift they are most comfortable in, releasing positive vibes to the whole healthcare facility.

  1. Schedule in Advance

You need to start scheduling as soon as possible so that the nurses would have a better idea of what their schedule is going to look like and make adjustments in their own personal life over time. The medical world is a career path that is full of surprises and there are going to be sudden changes especially in schedule, but this could give them a great overview of the things that are going to be happening in the next month at least.

When you are scheduling in advance, you have to take into consideration that nurse’s skill set, availability, and the demand of healthcare at that specific time of the year. You would be able to save a lot of time and effort when you use a nurse scheduling software that would be able to give the schedule of the nurses easily and accessible.

  1. Avoid overtime schedules

There are going to be times where nurses are required to go overtime, especially if there is a natural disaster that needs to be taken care of, but there are also overtime shifts that are mandatory. The mandatory overtime shifts are usually caused by the nursing shortage but the more you require them to work overtime, the more it would affect them negatively since it could lead to early burnout. 

What is a typical shift for a nurse?

12-hour shifts

The most common work shift that nurses usually take is 3 12-hour shifts a week, especially if they are in a healthcare facility that is very busy 24 hours a day.

10-hour shifts

When nurses choose to take the 10-hour shifts, they would usually work 4 shifts with this amount of shifts, which may be seen in private practices, clinics, and healthcare facilities.

8-hour shift

Working 5 8-hour shifts a week is also possible, and it usually is the schedule of a nurse who is also in school since they have to balance both their work-life and their school work.


PRN nurses as nurses who work when they are needed, so they do not have a permanent schedule that is set for them since they are called to the healthcare facility when they are undergoing a shortage in their staffing.

What is the best night shift schedule for nurses?

This would generally depend on you and your working habits, but the schedule that makes more sense is the 12-hour shift since it would give your body a chance to get into the rhythm and allow you more days for a day-off since you are generally only going to have to work 3 shifts a week, giving you more time for your personal life.