Rethinking shiftwork: mid‐life nurses making it work!

Nursing Inquiry 19 (2):177-187 (2012)
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WEST S, MAPEDZAHAMA V, AHERN M and RUDGE T. Nursing Inquiry 2012; 19: 177–187 [Epub ahead of print]Rethinking shiftwork: mid‐life nurses making it work!Many current analyses of shiftwork neglect nurses’ own voices when describing the dis/advantages of a shiftworking lifestyle. This paper reports the findings of a critical re‐analysis of two studies conducted with female mid‐life Australian nurses to explore the contention that the ‘problem‐centred’ focus of current shiftwork research does not effectively address the ‘real’ issue for mid‐life nurses, that is, how to develop and maintain shiftwork tolerance. Participants used shiftwork to: (i) manage, navigate and negotiate various aspects of their nursing work and the workplace itself; (ii) facilitate more manageable work/life negotiations; and (iii) self‐identify opportunities to engage in their own self‐care (body work and mind work). The findings thus went beyond simply exposing what nursing bodies do in time and space by bringing to the fore discussions of ‘time‐body’ relationships, the embodiment of time and nurses re/configuration of that time demonstrating that the frequently unacknowledged positive aspects of shiftwork, when centred in discussions, give voice to other ways to think about shiftwork and a shiftworking lifestyle. Thus, our contention is that the ‘problem‐centred’ focus of current shiftwork debates does little to address the ‘real’ issue for shiftworking mid‐life female nurses – the development and maintenance of shiftwork tolerance.



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