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What is the Best Shift for New CNA ?

When you are first starting out you may wonder what is the best shift for a New CNA to Work.  No matter what shift that you decide on or who you may ask, it all comes down to preference.  Preference is usually based on whether or not you have children, if your attending school or you may have another job.  All of these factors will help you determine which shift is best for you.

The day to day activities of a Nursing Assistant can be both rewarding and draining. Most of us only know that they offer assistance with feeding, dressing, and bathing patients. However, they do so much more.  Here we have listed just a few of the skills that you will be doing during each shift.  However, remember that these are just a few tasks.

First shift

In most Hospitals and Nursing Facilities first shift often begins  6-2 or 3-11.  There are often higher staffing levels with the day shift.  You will be working along a larger number of employees, such as therapies, doctors and administrators. 

Certified Nursing Assistants will start the day shift by getting report first.  Some, but not all of the task you will be required to are

  • Loading up linen carts
  • Taking Vitals
  • Passing Water and Ice
  • Changing linen, soiled diapers (every 2hrs or as needed)
  • Get a set number of residents up in the morning
  • Dressing residents
  • Providing dental care
  • Making Beds
  • Giving showers, and or bed baths
  • Getting residents ready for appointments, and therapies
  • Help passing trays in the dining room or on the floor for breakfast and lunch
  • Feeding residents (breakfast, lunch)
  • Ambulate or perform ROM on residents.
  • Passing Snacks
  • Putting (some) residents to bed for the pm nap.
  • Getting residents ready for appointments
  • Charting

Second Shift

The 2nd shift also called the evening shift begins somewhere around 2-10 or 3-11. You will only have to serve one meal during this shift, and it is easier putting people to bed than it is getting them up.  During the evening you will have more visitors more often then early in the day. However, the majority of the staff will be leaving such as the administers, therapy department, office staff and the activities directors within a few hours on this shift.  The number of Certified Nursing Assistants working wont be as high as the number on day shift.  Usually the number of residents that you will be caring for will also increase on this shift.  Here are just a few of the skill tasks that you may be required to do during this shift.

  • Taking Vitals
  • Passing Water and Ice
  • Changing soiled diapers and linens (every 2hrs or as needed)
  • Getting the residents that were laid down during the day shift back up for dinner
  • Setting up and passing dinner trays
  • Feeding dinner
  • Helping residents to go to pm activities such as bingo and church
  • Undressing residents for bed time
  • Passing snacks
  • Dental care
  • Showers (more showers are often given on evening shift)
  • Ambulate the resident or perform ROM
  • Charting

One of the disadvantage about evening and night shift is you have to deal with the residents that may suffer from sun downing.  They may become agitated, confused, and combative also verbally abusive.

Third Shift (Night Shift)

When working as a Certified Nursing Assistant during the night shift, you will be fighting the normal circadian cycle of your body and often will fight fatigue in addition to performing the responsibilities of their position.

During the night shift you won't have office staff, therapies, family member or administrators around. There are no activities going on to interrupt you. You may even have a little bit of downtime to chart and answer call lights without being completely stressed.

As a CNA, some of the challenges faced during an overnight shift may include:

Minimal Staffing
Because of the potential of minimal staffing on the night shift, Certified Nursing Assistants will more than likely have a larger assignment than those working the dayshift. Keep in mind that, in most normal cases, the resident will be sleeping or resting during the nightshift unless they suffer sleep problems from dementia or another serious health problems.

Higher potential of client death
Statistics show that most deaths in hospitals and long term care facilities usually take place during the night shift.

Some of the tasks a CNA might perform on the night shift include

Taking Vitals
Passing Water and Ice
Very few showers (most are given early am hours)
Getting Residents up and dressed in the am.
Changing liens and diapers (every 2hrs or as needed)
Stocking, and cleaning of equipment

As a New CNA, no matter who you talk to everyone is going to have their own opinions on which shift is best to work.  It is up to you to determine the best fit for you and your lifestyle.