Finding Work/Life Balance as a Nurse: The Importance of Schedules and Roles

NursingJune 01, 2022

As summertime arrives in New York, you may be feeling a desire to get outside and play – whether the beaches and boardwalks beckon or the mountains are more your speed, there’s no lack of outdoor activities in New York!   But, striking a balance between work and your personal life can be difficult for anyone who is trying their best to juggle the demands of work, school, family, and community. For nurses, it can be even more challenging since the job can be all-consuming. From having to multitask on the job to dealing with balancing the needs of several patients at once, nurses often need to work extra hard to achieve work/life balance – particularly when they find it difficult to “shut off” at the end of their shift. 

Being a nurse isn’t ordinarily a nine-to-five job but finding a more convenient schedule, for example one that meshes with your non-work responsibilities, can help. Here are a few options that might help you find a balance that works for you. 

Choose the Right Shift

In hospitals, most nurses work shifts that are either days or nights, often for 12 hours. Consider which works best for your personal life and, if possible, request the shift that is best for you. For example, if you have school-age children, you may prefer working nights so you’re home when your kids are home from school. If you have a partner who can be available overnight, working nights may be the best solution for your family. Or you may prefer to work mornings and days when it’s easier to find daycare. An added bonus? Working the day shift means you will be home for dinner in the evenings. Or you may choose to work weekends, so you can be home for family commitments during the week. The shift that’s right for you and your family will depend on your personal circumstances. And in some locations, working 12-hour shifts mean that you only work a 3-day week, allowing for more flexibility and time at home with family. 

Become a PRN

Another option is to become a PRN, an acronym for “pro re nata,” which is Latin for “as the situation demands.” Many nurses prefer to work PRNs, essentially on-call instead of as full-time employees with set schedules. They might fill in for a nurse who is on vacation, for example, or be called upon when a facility needs extra help. 

When you’re a PRN, you can set your own schedule, which offers flexibility to work shifts and days that fit your lifestyle. This is especially helpful if your family schedule or responsibilities change or if you want to take time off work without having to ask. Not having to worry about finding care for a sick child or being able to take time off when needed can provide peace of mind. 

Finding the hours or schedule that works for you will go a long way toward improving your work/life balance. If you’re thinking of going into this important field, St. Paul’s School of Nursing—with campuses in Queens and Staten Island—can get you on the right path. Visit the Nursing page on our website, or call (855) 822-3018 for more information or to schedule a campus tour.