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Keywords:

  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • work environment;
  • work relationships

Abstract

Aim

To report a study that explored the experiences of night-shift nurses, focusing on employee interrelationships and work satisfaction.

Background

Night-shift nurses are a critical component in hospital care making it essential to understand the experiences that give meaning to their work and understand how these nurses and the organization can benefit from their contribution to hospital care. A literature review revealed minimal research in this area.

Design

Qualitative case study.

Method

A qualitative case study using semi-structured interviews and self-completed diaries was conducted in 2010 in regional public hospitals in Australia. Participants were 14 nurses working nights half or more of their shifts in medical or surgical wards.

Findings

Thematic analysis identified four major areas of concern: work relationships, work environment, work practices and lifestyle impact. Notably, work relationships were most meaningful for nurses on the same shift; night-shift nurses experienced working conditions inferior to their daytime counterparts including a perception of minimal leadership. Despite limited education opportunities, night shift provided opportunity for professional growth for some nurses with a slippage in skills for others; night shift provided flexibility for family and social activities, yet impeded these same activities, primarily due to pervasive fatigue. Night-shift nurses considered their role critical, yet believed that they were poorly regarded.

Conclusion

The strong interpersonal relationships developed between night-shift workers need to be capitalized on whilst developing a more effective leadership model, improved work environment, more equitable professional development, and genuine recognition of the critical role of night nurses.