Hello friends! Welcome to an insightful article on RN hours.   

By the end of this article, you will know how long RNs work, which Nurses have the longest working hours, and how is nursing schedule made, which will help you identify the RNs’ working hours and decide for your future nursing journey accordingly. 

In the article, you will read about:

  • About Registered Nurses
  • Registered Nurse (RN Hours)
  • Which Nurses have the longest working hours
  • Who makes the Nurse schedule

If you are curious about how long a Registered Nurse works, stay tuned, as this article is going to answer all of your questions!


About Registered Nurses

About Registered Nurses

Before getting into the details of their work hours and on-call days, let’s quickly recall the concept of Registered Nurses. 

A Registered Nurse is a nurse who has done a bachelor of Science in Nursing and has cleared the state exam.

They are certified by the state to practice as a Nurse.

They can work in any healthcare facility. They can work for the public healthcare sector and private facilities. 

Being a Registered Nurse means that you might work at a hospital or a healthcare facility to facilitate direct patient care and/or work under doctors to help them. 

Job Structure of Nurses

Job Structure of Nurses

To better understand the long shifts and work hours, we must know their job structure.

For example, Nurses typically have a very tiring day at work. 

Their work is exhausting, mentally as well as physically.

They have to be present mentally and make mindful decisions to better their patients. 

Nurses can be needed at a healthcare facility or the hospital; full-time or part-time nurses are also called on duty to fill in for someone else. 

All nurses are overworked and usually over-exerted as well.

Yet, this profession is the most trusted profession throughout the states. 

This means that most Nurses do their job very well to build such a level of trust among the patients and their families. 

Most hospitals and clinics use On-call Nurses more often than we can think.

While some healthcare providers don’t use On-call Nurses at all, services like; ambulatory clinics, etc., the on-call nurses get high pay and even get overtime pay for the regular on-call hours they work for.

What Are the Responsibilities of an RN?

What Are the Responsibilities of an RN

An RN is a Registered Nurse who shoulders many official and unofficial responsibilities.

There are many things that are expected from the RN, even if it is not in their job description. 

The main responsibility of an RN is competency.

They need to be competent and know how to tackle critical cases.

At times nurses even put their licensure at stake to accommodate and facilitate the patients. 

At one point in time, the healthcare facility may not have a doctor available, but there surely will be a nurse to take indirect patient care. 

The responsibilities of a nurse:

  • Admitting patients and doing sure admittance paperwork has been done (if necessary)
  • Taking the patient’s vitals
  • Taking the patient’s history
  • Diagnosis is when the nurse is in charge
  • Putting the patient in contact with the relevant doctor
  • Taking samples and other tests
  • Explaining the diagnosis 
  • Help the patient understand what and how they may feel due to the illness
  • Explaining the dosage or prescription
  • Discharge arrangement of the patient (if admitted)
  • Follow up after the patient has been discharged

Registered Nurse (RN Hours)

Registered Nurse (RN Hours)

To be frank, there is no solid answer to this question.

Several factors determine nurse hours.

The job related to healthcare can not be confined by a clock. 

Nurse shift hours vary from place to place and the level of specialization of nurses.

However, the work schedule for a nurse consists of long shifts and fewer holidays. 

The work shifts can vary between 10-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts.

The 12-hour shifts are the toughest as they are the longest and mean that the nurse will have to handle a lot of workloads. 

A typical Nurse schedule can also be an 8-hour shift. This means a regular 9-5 job.

The healthcare sector comprises a lot of 24-hour service providing centers. 

This means they need to be staffed all round the clock.

Staffing is to be kept optimum at all times; that is why Nurses also have night shifts.

Nurse Practitioners also have a similar schedule to Registered Nurses.

One or a few of them need to be present at the hospital. 

Now let’s know the factors on which the Nurse shift schedule and number of hours are based.

  • Specialization: Before allotting a shift to the nurse, it is important to consider if they are Registered Nurses or have done any nursing programs to get nursing education about a specific topic

For example, a Gynecologist Nurse may be needed 24/7, but an Orthopedic Nurse may not be required to stay at the hospital after consultant hours.

  • Accessibility: Before scheduling the work shift for the Nurses, the hospital should be aware of the accessibility of the certain Nurse

If they aren’t available, an On-call Nurse may have to be called in to fill in the place.

  • Location: the location of the healthcare facility also decides the duration of the Nurse’s work hours

If the hospital is in a big city, more Nurses will be available, leading to shorter shift times for all as rotation will be easier due to availability. 

But if the healthcare center is in a rural area where the nurses are not available, the available Nurses will have to work for longer hours. 

This will be necessary to ensure that the facility is available during the entire operating shift.

  • Healthcare Facility: the shift hours greatly depend on the type of healthcare facility

If it is a 24 hours operational hospital, the Nurses may have longer shifts like 10-hours shifts or 12-hours shifts. 

On the other hand, if the place is a clinic that opens for only 8 hours, the Nurses will have a shorter shift.

It is mostly policy-based. 

There are other factors as well that contribute to the Nurse’s work schedule determination.

These factors may be micro and vary from hospital to hospital, like; a certain doctor registering requirement of a certain Nurse to work during their work hours.

Apart from these factors and basis, there is also a big advantage given to the Nurses who are readily available for night shifts, on holidays, and ready to work overtime during a heavy flow of patients. 

This advantage is mostly monetary, but big hospitals also recognize such Nurses by helping in funding their education programs, leveraging on their workday by giving an early off if possible, etc. 

Which Nurses work Has the Longest Working Hours?

Which Nurses work Has the Longest Working Hours

This is a question that is appropriate in this scenario. The shift hours depend on the nurse type rather than general work hours.

Nursing is a job that requires more time than a regular 9-5 job. 

This also affects the work-life balance of the Nurses. Usually, Nurses are overworked, and they are under stress while on duty. 

But which types of Nurses have the longest working hours comparatively?

First, let’s discuss a few types of Nurses and their working hours:

  • Registered Nurse: an RN is a General Nurse who has done BSN

She/he may have the longest working hours.

Some hospitals have a policy of 12-hours shifts on three days rotations. 

Therefore, their workweek is tough as their working hours are longer than other Nurses.

  • Travel Nurses: This type of Nurse usually doesn’t have a strict schedule to follow

They work on-call basis. 

They mostly work for rural areas and travel to places to fill in for the post as the need arises.

But at times, their work hours may even exceed the 12-hours shift.

  • Rural Nurses: Though they may not have advanced practice compared to their urban counterparts, Rural Nurses are known to have the toughest schedule

It is even stated by the Bureau of Labor statistics that Rural Nurses have the longest working hours and are paid much less than the nurses in urban cities.

These Nurses take the worst burnout following the nature of their job.

  • LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse): These Nurses have undergone advanced education to train for a certain type of care under direct patient care and they have long work shifts

They may also be appointed to work for patients as their Nurses at home.

This leads to a different level of income and payment determination for them.

Who Makes the Nurse’s Working Schedule?

Who Makes the Nurse’s Working Schedule

In most hospitals, a Nurse Practitioner who is also a Nurse Administrator makes the nurse schedule. 

Therefore, the Board of Nursing has made the Nursing Practice Advisory Committee make a position statement about the nurse’s work schedule and their safety and health concerns.

In most states, it is important for the hospital to consider the long shift hours and to make sure to give regular breaks and have coffee during work. 

What Does a Nurse Work Schedule Look Like?

What Does a Nurse Work Schedule Look Like

The Nurses are usually taken under three types of work shifts:

  • An 8-hour work shift: This shift is for the assisting Nurses, who assist the consulting doctors

They are also in healthcare facilities that operate only for a few hours each day.

  • 10-hour work shift: These are specialization and RNs.

They work longer and serve more patients.

  • 12-hours Shifts: This is the longest shift and Hospitals open 24 hours, 365 days a year have many Nurses work 12 hours shifts, three days a week.

This also enables hospitals to have adequate staff at all times. 


Conclusion on RN Hours

Nurses are respectable professionals, and working long hours makes them even more honorable for their patients and families.

They do get adequate salaries and benefits. 

However, it is also the hospital and healthcare facilities’ responsibility to take care of the Nurse’s health and safety as abided by the Board of Nursing. 


FAQ on RN hours

How many hours do Nurses work in a year?

Nurses are working for about 40 hours per week, this makes approximately 1800 hours per year. 

But there are also paid leaves and other off-days that may be considered.

This is a rough estimate, and the exact hours may vary from Nurse to Nurse and state to state.

Can Nurses work 24 hours shifts?

This is a very rare case. But it is possible in certain cases.

For example, if the Nurses are assisting some crucial and long surgeries, their shift may be 24 hours long or even longer. 

Do Nurses study further?

It depends on the Nurse individually. They can go for other education programs to enhance their capacity of working and learning. 

Continuing education also has a lot of benefits for their career. 

How much do the Nurses earn?

The income of Nurses depends on a lot of factors. One important factor is work hours.
They get paid per hour, so the longer they work, the more they earn. 

How many hours can a Nurse work legally?

Legally, there is no set time limitation for Nurse jobs.

12 hours is the maximum amount of time a nurse can serve, but the time can be longer in rare cases. 

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