Increasing overtime hours among new nurses is ‘troubling,’ researchers say

Common signs of nursing burnout

According to new research from the New York University's Rory Meyers College of Nursing, new nurses are working plenty of 12-hour shifts, clocking in a "troubling" number of overtime hours—and 13 percent of them hold second jobs.

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The study, recently published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, features an analysis of surveys from more than 4,500 newly licensed nurses in 13 states plus Washington, D.C. The self-reported surveys measured demographics, education, work attributes and attitudes, including the nurses' work schedules, shift length, weekly work hours, overtime, and whether or not they worked another job.

Four cohorts of nurses were included in the report: nurses licensed in 2004-2005; 2007-2008; 2010-2011; and 2014-2015 to analyze changes over time.

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What they found

  • New nurses work an average of 39.4 hours a week, predominantly in 12-hour shifts
  • More than 13 percent report having a second job
  • New nurses prefer 12-hour day shifts
  • About 12 percent of nurses worked mandatory overtime (less than one hour per week)
  • Nearly half of the nurses reported voluntary overtime (three hours per week)
  • Overtime hours on the rise in recent cohort

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While new nurses were working a similar proportion of 12-hour shifts as veteran nurses, "the study's findings on overtime were particularly troubling, given that previous research has established associations between working overtime and patient outcomes," researchers noted in a university article on the study.

For example, overtime, though it has its monetary benefits, has been associated with increased medication errors, occupational injuries, nursing burnout and overall job dissatisfaction.

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Study co-author and NYU Meyers professor Christine Korver urged nurse managers and policymakers to “guard against mandatory overtime hours.”

Read the full study at