California covers cow farts.

Ok.

In Washington, and specifically at Washington State University, they lean to the more practical when it comes to granting money to spend studying stuff.

A million dollars to study for three years the specific effects of a 12-hour overnight work shift in a critical field like nursing is a real good example.

Sure there has been a lot of published reports showing 12-hour overnight shifts can hurt job performance, (truck drivers, police officers) but WSU researchers hope to quantify those risks for nurses.

The $1 million, three-year grant will evaluate how well nurses can calculate medication dosages and perform other patient care tasks after three consecutive 12-hour shifts, and also evaluate their driving safety.

Nurses will be studied in WSU’s nursing simulation lab, where they’ll perform patient care tasks on hyper-realistic mannequins.

They’ll also be outfitted with goggles to track eye motion, which will help researchers understand the underlying causes of any errors they make.

While there is all kinds of evidence from other industries and professions that 12-hour shifts, particularly night shifts, can be detrimental to performance. Yet a culture exists where nursing expectations are nothing short of superhuman.

Doctors are allowed and sometimes encouraged to take naps on the job to stay alert. Nurses don't get the same consideration and can be fired for it. Doctors have had their number of consecutive hours worked regulated since 1987. No such plan is in place now, or has ever been, for nurses. Historically, that’s because they’ve been considered secondary to doctors, though nurses are often performing the hands-on tasks where errors can have a huge impact.

The study will include 100 nurses from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, half working day shifts and half working night shifts.