Friday, March 25, 2011

Break Time

Is it true that nurses don't get their breaks during their work shift?  Is this the exception or the rule?

So often I hear that nurses are expected to work long shifts with 5 minutes here and there to wolf down their lunch or supper.  If by law, a nurse is suppose to take a 30 minute unpaid "lunch", then why is there so much complaining? 

It's confusing to me because of the overweight nursing population, and seems kind of contradictory with the shortages of break time.


  1. It depends by state, hospital, floor and your co-workers. Here in California with the patient ratio law they staff an extra meal relief nurse on every unit, there is no reason not to get your breaks and they enforce it.
    The other four states I worked in varied more by hospital and staff. Since you have to hand your patients off to another nurse for lunch it became hard at times because she also has patients and it would double her load. Although, some manager did a good job of making sure their staff got their breaks, others couldn't care less. Then it also depended on your coworkers, or like me I hate to leave my patients to someone else who does not know them.

  2. The foods some end up snacking on are the fast fatty foods. No time for healthy. perhaps? Then, being too exhausted after a 12 hr shift... fast foods are easy?

    It's true. Most of my nursing career I have hardly had time for drinking or eating, which is just as well, because I certainly wouldn't have time to go to the bathroom!

    At one hospital we were encouraged to take breaks no matter what - they would send a float or a supervisor, but on L&D - if you don't have someone competent to watch a patient in isn't's one thing to "watch" a patient and another thing to know when something is wrong and also what to do about it... :(
    When your license is on the line... it's tough.
    I often have come back from a break thinking that a nurse left with a patient would be watching them - when in fact, they haven't even gone in the room or at minimum - looked at the strip.

    Law is one thing, and unfortunately, some of the time, it's difficult when you are overwhelmed with work - to make the choice to take the break - but then have to stay to "finish up" at the end of the shift...which, after 12 hrs, to add on a few more after an excruciating shift...makes one even more exhausted. I didn't know too many overweight nurses when I was working. Those ones were usually management. :^O

  3. That sounds hard! God Bless those nurses!

  4. Typically breaks will happen on Day shifts, but not always on night shifts (where I work).

    Unfortunately my (idiot?) manager sees people who request overtime because of missed break as someone who has poor time management. Seriously. She doesn't look at the acuity of the patient, just sees it as a sign of being a bad nurse.

    There will always be a time when breaks don't happen because patients do come first. However, if it is repeatedly happening to multiple people in a unit, it is time to question staffing or patient acuity ratios... Everyone needs breaks to rejuvinate!