The Full Moon Phenomenon


If you’ve been working for long enough as a nurse, you’ve no doubt heard about the “Full Moon Phenomenon.” It is said that whenever there is a full moon, there awaits a massive shitstorm of trouble on hospital floors everywhere. Supposedly the patients are crazier, the shift is busier, and things that seldom go wrong always seem to go wrong.

But is this a real, documented, and studied event? Or simply the ramblings of some superstitious goats?

The rumors

The unofficial word is that this is totally a real occurrence. Some possible explanations for why this is thought to be the case:
  • Attitude & Perception. Quite simply, when we expect trouble, we see trouble.
  • Selective Memory. We may truly experience a horrible shift that went down on a full moon. We may have also experienced some ordinary and normal shifts on full moons, but ended up forgetting about them, so the memory statistics are skewed.
  • Word of mouth. Some people probably have never even had a rough full moon shift, but they've heard so many stories from others that they've assumed it's real, and just spread the word.

The evidence

As of now, I can say that the evidence isn't there to support this phenomenon. Now, does that mean that this is the final word? No, of course not. We learn new things all the time.

But if you’ve read my other articles, you probably know by now that I’m all for inciting controversy… and I can describe my personal opinion on the matter in two words: It’s bullshit :wink:

A question for you

Is the full moon phenomenon something that only happens for nightshift or are dayshift nurses affected as well? Honest question. I've basically been working nights for my entire career so I'm not nearly as familiar with dayshift... let me know!

But I want to hear your opinions… state your argument in the comments!