What are some possible job sharing arrangements one might consider for full-time nurses who need greater flexibility and opportunity to spend more time at home with their families.

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[J]ob sharing, a viable option for many nurses seeking flexible scheduling and for hospital employers looking for new ways to recruit and retain nursing professionals .... According to the Duke University ... “a job share arrangement is a full-time job split between two individuals, each with responsibility for success of the total job.” An eight-hour shift can be split into two four-hour shifts or into other shifts determined by the employer and employees. Benefits are also typically split between the two job share partners. (Christina Orlovsky, Nursing News)

One motivation for interest in nursing job sharing is flexible time for family responsibilities, furthering education, job re-entry or job retirement. Job sharing is one of the new avenues of "flexible scheduling" in nursing. Other flexible scheduling options are flex time, self scheduling, and nursing ward selection (self-choosing where to work). Since job sharing may be scheduled into shifts by the employees themselves, by the employer, or by both employees and employer together, the possibility for scheduling options is very wide. Aside from simple splits in daily shifts, days might be alternated; days might be arranged 3 on and 3 off; modifications to standard irregular nursing schedules (e.g., 3 on, 4 off) might be made for job sharing. The only requirements are that both job sharers take full "responsibility for success of the total job" and that the employer is satisfied that no part of the job will suffer or be under performed.

An examination of the negatives associated with job sharing follows. Nurses who work for institutions such as hospitals are always going to be at the mercy of the need for consistent shift coverage. Thus, flexibility is a function of the configuration of shifts, and the traditional hand-off of the changing of the shift must be compensated for.

Job sharing might be difficult because of traditional shift requirements.  Assuming that the job requires a 40-hour work week, what happens, then, to the need for a report at shift's end?  As the shift comes to an end, time is provided to report the ending shift's updates to the shift coming on, a report that cannot possibly be done away with.

A hospital that is willing to work with two people can still make this possible and provide properly for the needs of the hospital, particularly for two nurses who are highly valued employees.