Night vs. day shift: how to avoid conflict, whichever side you’re on

When stakes are high and the pressure is on for healthcare teams, it’s no secret that tensions can sometimes run high between the night shift and the day shift. 

From accusations of negligence to clashes over workload, the divide between these two essential teams can feel huge. 

But what lies at the heart of this conflict? And how can we work together to bridge the gap and ensure patients and residents receive the best possible care?

A closer look at the divide

On one side of the coin, we have the night shift – dedicated care professionals who work tirelessly through the wee hours of the morning to keep people in care safe and comfortable. 

On the other side, we have the day shift—equally committed professionals who pick up where the night shift leaves off, ready to tackle the day’s challenges head-on. 

Yet despite their shared goal of providing exceptional care, a disconnect often exists between these two teams.

Blame game

One of the most prevalent issues fueling the conflict between the night shift and the day shift is the tendency to assign blame rather than seek understanding. 

Night shift workers may feel unfairly criticised for decisions made in the darkness of night, while day shift workers may feel unaware of the challenges faced during the overnight hours.

Put yourself in their shoes

To bridge the gap between the night shift and the day shift, we must first strive to understand each other’s experiences and challenges. 

Night shift workers face unique obstacles such as less staff, limited resources, and the pressure of making critical decisions without the support of a full team. 

Conversely, day shift workers must hit the ground running, often inheriting issues that arose overnight and navigating a hectic environment filled with new admissions, discharges, procedures, visiting professionals and relatives.

Communication is key

At the heart of any successful collaboration is effective communication. 

By fostering open lines of communication between the night shift and the day shift, we can break down barriers, address misunderstandings, and work together to find solutions to common challenges. 

Handovers are a good time to communicate, but we can use other forms of communication too, such as shared electronic communication platforms or even the unit’s diary, which can also facilitate the exchange of vital information and ensure continuity of care.

Finding common ground

Despite the differences between the night shift and the day shift, one thing remains constant: our shared commitment to providing exceptional care. 

By focusing on this common ground and recognising the invaluable contributions of each team, we can move past the conflict and come together in pursuit of our shared goal. 

Together, we can overcome the challenges that divide us and emerge stronger, more united, and better equipped to provide the exceptional care our patients deserve around the clock.


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