I recently participated in an online discussion that compared the benefits and disadvantages of the 12-hour shift to the 8-hour shift. Nurses were asked to give their opinions on their preferences for each shift and state their reasons for those preferences. Many nurses responded from various practices and geographical areas, but as I read the answers, a common thread emerged that brought an unexpected slant to the discussion. Many nurses spoke of preferring a 12-hour shift because it allowed them time to take on another job, either part time or per diem. This was also mentioned as a disadvantage of an 8-hour shift.

I wondered to myself, would we be having this discussion if we were teachers or municipal workers? Why is it so common for nurses to work a full-time job and a per diem job? Is it out of opportunity or necessity? Are nursing salaries on the whole insufficient? And is this common in other professions? I must admit that I do know a majority of nurses who work a full-time 12-hour shift job and also work per diem elsewhere. I don't know other professionals who work per diem as frequently. I welcome discussion and insight from other nurses nationwide on this topic.