Because Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, are expected to provide basic patient care, this means there is a lot of tasks that they’re expected to accomplish. It implies a busy work schedule, tending to patients’ needs round the clock.
However, a CNA’s work schedule largely depends on where he or she is working. There are plenty of scheduling options available in various workplaces, so it’s still difficult to predict a general CNA schedule.
So, the basic question is, do CNAs have to work in 12-hour shifts?
Possible Work Hours
The most common work schedules for a CNA would be 8 hours or 12 hours. Again, this largely depends on the workplace and the CNA’s own preference.
Many people opt for 8-hour shifts for a five-day work week. Others like working longer so that there can be an extra day off.
This is why nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities often allow CNAs to work three 12-hour shifts. It’s usually never mandatory.
Still, it would depend on the workplace’s requirement for full time staff. Some require 32 up to 40 work hours each week.
So, a CNA’s weekly schedule isn’t definitively made up of 8- or 12-hour shifts. The reality is, it does vary dramatically.
When Do Work Hours Fall?
Let’s say a CNA does have a 12-hour work shift. This doesn’t mean a straight 12 hours in the day or in the night. It’s often broken down.
The most common is a day shift and a night shift, with major patient-care tasks typically falling in the range of 6 and 8 in the morning and evening. This is for 12-hour shifts.
Meanwhile, an 8-hour shift is usually broken down into day, evening, and night. A standard breakdown would be 6-2, 2-10, and 10-6, with CNAs taking overlapping shifts to avoid sudden transitions.
It’s also recommended for a CNA to have a set time period for their work shifts. For example, even if work days may change each week, the 8- or 12-hour shifts should mostly fall in the same time of day. This allows for a comfortable rhythm or routine to get going.
There are other CNAs, however, who regularly switch between shifts. This can happen in nursing homes and hospitals, where work can vary per shift.
In certain facilities, though, a CNA could be hired just for a specific shift. In contrast, others expressly require changing shifts on a regular basis, adding the challenge of time management.
Why 12-Hour Shifts Are a Thing
Now it may seem worrying to have an entire half day dedicated to patient care, but it’s vital for at least some CNAs to take up.
One reason is patient handoffs. It’s no problem to overlap shifts for one CNA to update the other and turn over tasks. Still, miscommunication and overlooking things are a possibility that can lead to missed medication, inaccurate doses, or undocumented changes in the patient.
A longer shift means less of these handoffs that have risk of human error.
Granted, this advantage benefits patients more than the CNA, which leads us to the plus for CNAs – more days off. As previously mentioned, compared to shorter shifts, squeezing 12 hours into three days and leaving a 4-day weekend can feel great.
The important thing is, whether a CNA does get a 12-hour work shift or not, caring for the patient remains the utmost priority. Putting a certain work shift to good use is all a matter of time management.
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