Do All Nurses Work Long Hours?

how many hours do rns workWorking long hours is often associated with the nursing field because nurses are such an essential part of medical care in all types of environments. The length of an average nurse’s day is highly dependent on which type of health care environment he or she has a position in.


Nurses are responsible for a number of different procedures and tasks throughout a hospital environment. The length of an average work day, therefore, is also connected to what type of position a nurse holds within a hospital. For floor care nurses working in intensive care, pediatric intensive care, labor and delivery, emergency rooms, and other similar departments, a shift might last anywhere from eight to 24 hours, depending on facility policy. In many cases, hospital department nurses work three days a week for 10 or 12 hours per day, and this is considered a full-time schedule.

Other positions in a hospital for nursing professionals include management positions. In these positions, nurses are much more likely to work a more traditional schedule of hours, typically for five days a week and for eight hours a day. This is also often the case for nurses working for specialists that are located within a hospital or medial complex.

Physician Offices, Long-term Care Facilities and Outpatient Centers

Nurses working in a physician’s office are also most likely to have traditional working hours. However, additional hours might also be included in a job description to be on call or answer after-hours questions from patients. This is also similar to the likely hours of a nurse in a long-term care facility or outpatient center. Working weekends, overtime, and different shift hours through the day are also considerations in these positions.

Home Health Care and Traveling Positions

In home health care positions, nurses visit patients in their own homes, working with them to monitor conditions, administer medication, offer educational consultations, and a variety of other types of medial care. In many situations, home health care nurses work traditional hours as well, although this is also likely to vary throughout different hours of the day.

Traveling nurses have opportunities to work around the country and can choose different positions based on interest. This also provides nurses with a great amount of flexibility for hours worked. More information can be found at the American Travel Health Nurses Association.

Schools and Education

Nurses might also pursue positions working in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools as either a staff nurse for emergency situations or as an educator of special programs. Additionally, professional nurses are employed at post-secondary institutions as classroom instructors for nursing degree programs. Nurses in these positions will often work a typical school day in addition to any required preparatory time.

Other Career Possibilities

Correctional facilities and the military are two additional possibilities for working as a nurse. In these cases and in other environments, depending on the organization, nurses might work any number of hours similar to those in other positions.

Nurses play a vital role in the medical and health care fields. Nurses are in high demand for filling positions, and the need for qualified, professional nurses also often requires long hours throughout a shift in order to best care for patients or educate people of all ages.