Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Night nursing – staff's working experiences

Kerstin Nilsson12*, Ann-Mari Campbell3 and Ewa Pilhammar Andersson1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Gothenburg, the Sahlgrenska Academy, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Göteborg, Sweden

2 University of Skövde, School of Life Science, Skövde, Sweden

3 Malmö University, Faculty of Health and Society, Malmö, Sweden

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BMC Nursing 2008, 7:13  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-7-13

Published: 31 October 2008



Although the duties and working conditions of registered, and enrolled nurses have previously been described from different perspectives, they have not been examined from the night nursing aspect. The aim of the study was to describe the night nursing staff's working experiences.


The design of the study is qualitative and descriptive. Interviews were conducted with 10 registered and 10 enrolled nurses working as night staff at a Swedish University Hospital. The interview guide was thematic and concerned the content of their tasks, as well as the working conditions that constitute night nursing. In addition, the interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using content analysis.


The night duties have to be performed under difficult conditions that include working silently in dimmed lighting, and making decisions when fatigue threatens. According to the night staff, its main goals are to provide the patients with rest and simultaneously ensure qualified care. Furthermore, the night nursing staff must prepare the ward for the daytime activities.


The most important point is the team work, which developed between the registered and enrolled nurses and how necessary this team work is when working at night. In order for nurses working at night to be fully appreciated, the communication between day and night staff in health care organizations needs to be developed. Furthermore, it is important to give the night staff opportunities to use its whole field of competence.