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Old 06-19-2010, 11:50 PM
Johnny L.A. is offline
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What's the graveyard shift called in hospitals?


I've heard, and I assume it's true, that the midnight-to-eight shift* in a hospital is not referred to as the 'graveyard shift', for obvious reasons. What's it called, then?

When my dad was with the FAA, he called that shift the 'graveyard shift' or the 'midwatch'.



*Or whatever similar span. Dad was FAA, so had 8-hour days.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:00 AM
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Technically, it's the "third shift." But I've heard people call it the graveyard shift, probably more often than third shift.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:36 AM
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1st shift- days
2nd shift- evenings
3rd shift- nights
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:14 AM
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When it was on a form it was "third shift". But everyone on the mid shift called it the mid shift or the grave yard shift.
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:16 AM
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Every shift is the graveyard shift at the cemetery.
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:18 AM
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Every place I've been called it nights.
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:21 AM
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In the printing industry it's called the "lobster shift."
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:34 AM
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Why wouldn't they just call it the night shift? That's what it always was in fast food (back in the day).
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Old 06-20-2010, 02:56 AM
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At the mental health facility where I work the three shifts are referred to in casual conversation as the AM, the PM, and the 11/7 (or "the eleven to seven" if you are not into the whole brevity thing).
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Old 06-20-2010, 03:50 AM
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Ever since I was nursing in the 70s I think in NSW they have been C shifts or nights. The standard A is 7 - 3, a B is 3 - 11 and a C is 11 - 7.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
I've heard, and I assume it's true, that the midnight-to-eight shift* in a hospital is not referred to as the 'graveyard shift', for obvious reasons. What's it called, then?

When my dad was with the FAA, he called that shift the 'graveyard shift' or the 'midwatch'.



*Or whatever similar span. Dad was FAA, so had 8-hour days.
Usually, "nights," to distinguish it from "days" and "PMs" but I really just want to post on the idea that Hospital workers are somehow sensitive souls who don't want to offend by using the term "graveyard" since so many patients circle the drain on nights and end up exiting in the horizontal mode instead of being returned to Death Camp .

In the ED, at least, we sort of invented political incorrectness and callous disregard for emotional human suffering.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:56 AM
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I really just want to post on the idea that Hospital workers are somehow sensitive souls who don't want to offend by using the term "graveyard" since so many patients circle the drain on nights
Oh, I know that hospital workers have macabre senses of humour. But I've been told that 'they're not supposed to use "graveyard shift"'. So it sounds like a policy thing, rather than people trying to be sensitive. (For whatever reason, I was never able to ask the question.)
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Old 06-20-2010, 09:46 AM
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I used to call it money. Double differential over day pay and, being a young healthy idiot at the time, a per deim in lieu of benefits. Worked out to about quadruple over base.

As I recall noone out on smoke break had any qualms against graveyard. But the scheduling term was nights.
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:29 AM
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In the printing industry it's called the "lobster shift."
Why?
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:09 AM
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That TV drama about late-night emergency services called it "Third Watch" but "third shift" is what I personally have heard more often.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:29 AM
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Perhaps political correctness has creeped in, but I personally worked "the graveyard shift" at a Dunkin' Donuts and a convenience store in West Texas back in the 1970s. Possibly it was a more common term than today?
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:32 AM
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What industry does use "graveyard shift" as a formal term? I work in a toxicology lab, and the term "night shift" is the formal term for the 11pm-7am shift. After all, who's going to apply for a job posting for a graveyard shift? Of course the workers when talking to each other use "graveyard" and "overnight".
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:46 AM
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I don't think I've ever seen it used as a formal term. It's just what everyone said way back when. Perhaps it's gone by the wayside more today.

At the convenience store I worked, 7am-3pm was "the morning shift" (despite three hours of it being in the afternoon), 3-11pm was "the swing shift" and 11pm-7am "the graveyard shift." But none of those terms was used formally.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 06-20-2010 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:55 AM
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Perhaps political correctness has creeped in, but I personally worked "the graveyard shift" at a Dunkin' Donuts and a convenience store in West Texas back in the 1970s. Possibly it was a more common term than today?
I've heard it called the graveyard shift all my life, so it's not surprising that you'd hear it at a doughnut shop. But the term seems to be frowned upon (at least officially) in hospitals because people die in hospitals.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:02 PM
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People have died in doughnut shops, too.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:07 PM
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I worked the shift (ours was 11pm - 7am) and it was called the "overnight shift" in both hospitals. I worked the reception and PBX in the ER.

I worked in a lot of hotels overnights and we called it "overnight" I've never worked the shift anywhere it was called the graveyard shift.

Hmmmmm
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:55 PM
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Nights or 11 to 7.
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Old 06-20-2010, 04:18 PM
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My mother was a nurse for several different hospitals and convalescent homes, and all of them simply referred to the shifts by their times, usually 7-3, 3-11 and 11-7.

YMMV
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Old 06-20-2010, 05:54 PM
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Why?
There's no agreement about the origin of "lobster shift." I think the most plausible origin is the fact that lobsters are fairly stupid animals, and you'd have to be a fool to work those hours. As a former "lobster" myself, I must admit that there are people who prefer to work that shift, because they're social outcasts, and it gives them an excuse for having no social life (not to be confused, however, with stupidity).

There's also the less-plausible theory that such workers go out drinking before work, then show up with faces as red as lobsters.
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Old 06-21-2010, 01:35 AM
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There's also the less-plausible theory that such workers go out drinking before work, then show up with faces as red as lobsters.
My old barbershop shared a wall with a bar near San Antonio's medical center. When I would go in at 7:00am to get a cut before going to work, it woudn't be unusual to hear the 11-7 shift workers getting drunk and singing karaoke next door.
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Old 06-21-2010, 11:26 AM
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There's no agreement about the origin of "lobster shift"....
I once read a book set in the mid-Eighties called The Days and Nights of a Young D.A., about a newbie Manhattan asst. district attorney. The night shift was called "lobster shift," and the explanation given was that lobster fisherman would go out at night to collect their traps. I make no claim that this is the actual origin of the term.
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Old 06-21-2010, 11:39 AM
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Back about 40 years ago, when I worked at a steel mill in Australia, the 11pm-7am or midnight-8am shift was called the dogwatch -- a term originating on ships. (But I only ever worked the day shift.)
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Old 06-21-2010, 11:54 AM
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Since all the ICUs I work had 12 hour shifts, they were simply days and nights.

BTW, panache45, I worked nights for most of my 40 years. I am neither stupid nor anti-social.
There are many reasons to prefer nights. A big one is dividing child care between parents.
I preferred nights because I love to teach in a casual setting. Night shift is the newbie shift, so having someone around that actually knows something is important.
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:24 PM
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I once read a book set in the mid-Eighties called The Days and Nights of a Young D.A., about a newbie Manhattan asst. district attorney. The night shift was called "lobster shift," and the explanation given was that lobster fisherman would go out at night to collect their traps. I make no claim that this is the actual origin of the term.
That's what I thought too, but I googled it and still can't confirm it. I work in printing too, we also call it a lobster shift, and the folks who work that shift are not, IMHO, as competent as the day shift workers. When they hire people they have to start working on the lobster shift, then move up to the better shift schedules.
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:53 PM
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I was in the hospital recently. The nurses didn't work on a 3 shift rotation anymore.

From what I could tell, it was 7am to 7pm 7pm-7am
two 12 hour shifts.

Last edited by aceplace57; 06-21-2010 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 06-21-2010, 01:22 PM
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I work the graveyard shift, but it's at a helpdesk. I think our schedule says that, since no one but our department sees the schedule.
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:37 PM
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. . . the folks who work that shift are not, IMHO, as competent as the day shift workers.
That's the opposite of my experience. When I finally got on the day shift, I found the work to be much easier . . . except that then I had to put up with owners and clients. Sure, there were a few misfits on lobster shift, but they were competent misfits.
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:29 AM
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In the printing industry it's called the "lobster shift."
No, I've worked the lobster shift. That's like 4 a.m. to noon.
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:22 PM
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No, I've worked the lobster shift. That's like 4 a.m. to noon.
A former roomate used to work on the local newspaper, and his overnight shift (started at 11 IIRC) was referred to as "the lobster shift." I drove taxi at nights (midnight to 8 am), and we called that the graveyard shift. Especially truthy, as we'd park in the local graveyard to sleep if it was a slow night.
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Old 06-23-2010, 01:01 PM
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I came in here to post just that. I worked at a daily newspaper for 25 years; though I never worked lobster, we changed from an afternoon pub to a morning when I'd been there about 5 years, and our shifts changed to accommodate the press run. The overnight shift was still the lobster, though.
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:03 PM
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I was in the hospital recently. The nurses didn't work on a 3 shift rotation anymore.

From what I could tell, it was 7am to 7pm 7pm-7am
two 12 hour shifts.
The main shifts are indeed 7-7, but in the ER that doesn't account for surges in patient numbers in the afternoon and evening, so you'll often see additional shifts such as 9a-9p, 11a-11p and even 3p-3a.
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:09 PM
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I don't know where everyone lives, but I do see that someone from NE Ohio and someone from New Jersey mentioned 'lobster shift'. I'd never heard the term before this thread. Maybe it's some sort of Back East thing?

As for the OP, it sounds like '3rd' or 'Night' shift is what is used in hospitals.
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:47 PM
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The nurses here work 8am-4pm, 8am-8pm or 8pm-8am. They're either the day shift, late shift or night shift.
Docs generally work 9am-5pm, 9am-10pm or 9pm-10am (overlap for handovers). Known as days, longs or nights.

Shifts for doctors in A&E here are so horrible they don't have names.
I worked a rota where the shifts were: 9am-5pm, 11am-8pm, 1pm-10pm, 2pm-12am, 5pm-3am, 9pm-9am, and you rotated through all of them (i,e, no-one got to work just "days" or "nights"). I worked just three 9am-5pm shifts in a month where I worked 25 out of 31 days and never worked more than 4 of the same type of shift in a row. It wreaks havoc on your body clock.
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Old 06-23-2010, 05:45 PM
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The nurses here work 8am-4pm, 8am-8pm or 8pm-8am. They're either the day shift, late shift or night shift.
Docs generally work 9am-5pm, 9am-10pm or 9pm-10am (overlap for handovers). Known as days, longs or nights.

Shifts for doctors in A&E here are so horrible they don't have names.
I worked a rota where the shifts were: 9am-5pm, 11am-8pm, 1pm-10pm, 2pm-12am, 5pm-3am, 9pm-9am, and you rotated through all of them (i,e, no-one got to work just "days" or "nights"). I worked just three 9am-5pm shifts in a month where I worked 25 out of 31 days and never worked more than 4 of the same type of shift in a row. It wreaks havoc on your body clock.
Yep, welcome to my life.
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Old 06-23-2010, 05:49 PM
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Every shift is the graveyard shift at the cemetery.
Except the ice cream shift.

It's a little-known perk of being an undertaker.
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Old 06-23-2010, 06:43 PM
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I have certainly heard of the term graveyard shift. Although I have often worked nights I have never been anywhere that the term is actually used. My department has 3 patrol shifts. They are called 'days', 'afternoons' and 'midnights'. Even though afternoons go to 2am and midnights start at 830.
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Old 06-23-2010, 11:13 PM
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I don't know where everyone lives, but I do see that someone from NE Ohio and someone from New Jersey mentioned 'lobster shift'. I'd never heard the term before this thread. Maybe it's some sort of Back East thing?
Always lived west of the Mississippi, and I've never heard of "lobster shift."


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Except the ice cream shift.

It's a little-known perk of being an undertaker.
I don't EVEN want to know.
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Old 06-23-2010, 11:17 PM
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I don't EVEN want to know.
On a hot day, an undertaker can have a cool one.

After a rough day, he can have a stiff one.
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