With the aging baby boomer population, employee burnout, and lack of quality medical training, the United States is facing one of the most detrimental nursing shortages in history. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Health and Human Services projected the demand for nurses to be much higher than the actual number of employed registered nurses through 2030. Since 2016 the nursing population was widely composed of nurses between 25 to 34 years old. After the global pandemic hit, the number of nurses in that age group declined by 5.2 percent, and nurses aged 35 to 44 have reduced by 7.4 percent (Haines, 2022). During a period when the need for nurses is at an all-time high, many are leaving the bedside for other less stressful careers.

When examining the nursing crisis topic, many factors must be considered, one of the most important being decreasing staff burnout, thus maintaining quality trained nurses. Everhart et al. found that retaining nursing staff decreased overall financial costs for the hospital and decreased adverse events, length of stays, and improved care processes (2013).

One of the issues leading to nursing burnout is believed to be the 12-hour shift work. A recent review showed that nurses who worked 12-hour shifts developed more chronic fatigue, cognitive anxiety, sleep disturbance, and emotional exhaustion than those who worked 8-hour shifts (Banakhar, 2017). In a recent survey, nurses working longer than ten hours were more likely to experience burnout and job dissatisfaction and showed intention to quit their jobs (Stimpfel, Sloane & Aiken, 2012). With this information, it is essential to assess how to decrease nursing burnout and retain quality nurses at the bedside. This change project discusses the following research question: In the acute setting, do nurses (P) working 8-hour shifts (I), compared to nurses working 12-hour shifts(C), have less burnout (O) over three months (T)?

During this project, we will take a deeper look into the effects of the 8-hour shift versus the 12-hour shift, the nursing retention, and thus, overall patient care.

Date of publication

Fall 12-3-2022

Document Type

MSN Capstone Project



Persistent identifier



Master of Science in Nursing Administration