I am a student nurse and have been doing my clinical on a CC unit.
The nurses all eat when they can and never leave the unit for their 30 minute break (even though they are not paid for that "break").
If someone does leave the unit to get food, they come right back up and sit in an area where they can see the monitors.
The problem is that other people (pt's families, drs, pharmacists etc) can see them and often interrupt their lunch.
It is really the culture of the place, i think, that makes these nurses not want to leave the unit for lunch.
There is also nothing in place to ensure the nurses actually get a break.
I have been researching to see if there is any evidence of systems that work to ensure nurses get a break and feel comfortable leaving the unit. I know it is possible. I have not found much research about HOW nurses get breaks, just that they are important.
Does anyone have a good system going on their unit?
Thank you in advance for your help!
Apr 2, '11
I work in a large ICU in Australia.
We're 1:1, and work 12 hour shifts.
We get a 20 min morning tea, 30 min lunch, 20 min afternoon tea, 30 min dinner.
We do break with our neighbour; our bedspaces are separated by curtains and benches, and you can see all the important stuff from sitting in the middle; vent, monitor, pumps, patient.
In our isolation rooms one of the two people on the floor (person running the pod of 9 patients, and the person assisting them) will do your break, or they will get a new patient person to do it, or the access nurse to do it.
While doing breaks with two ventilated patients, we don't do anything; physios aren't permitted to treat out patients, we just watch and address alarms as needed.
While on our breaks, you can do whatever you damn well want.
Apr 2, '11
In the US, if you do any work during your "break", you are legally supposed to be paid for that time. Do the nurses where you are doing your clinical have a union? Either way, one must be totally relieved of their duties for the time period of the unpaid meal period (usually a half hour) for it not to be paid time. Unfortunately, most health care facilities get away with noncompliance because nobody reports it or takes it further. There have been several lawsuits about this issue, and the government, even under the Republicans, did not joke around when they found businesses which were not in compliance. They generally go back several years to check the records, and impose retroactive overtime on all the employees they find, even the ones who didn't complain. It can mean a lot of fines for the employer, but only if it brought to the attention of the government, or an attorney, or a union. Do yourself a favor, and google US labor and overtime laws--it will open your eyes. I can't tell you how many times I have quoted the law to managers, and they have backed down trying to impose illegeal work practices.
Apr 2, '11
Addendum to previous post:
This whole topic reminded me of something that happened when I worked at a major Philadelphia teaching hospital--They installed turnstyles at the staff entrance, and made us all get ID badges with magnetic swipe strips. All of a sudden we had to swipe in and out thru the turnstyles. They even had security guards there to herd us thru. Then, just as suddenly, they stopped us--"NO, NO!! you can't wipe in thru the turnstyles any more!!" The management never said why not, but we figured it out. If they had accurate records of the swiping, they would actually have to start paying the nurses on the heavy units that used to stay an extra half hour to an hour to clean up their charting and other chores at the end of their shifts--time they used to just "donate", but now there would be a concrete record of how much time they spent--and they would have to get paid OT for it!!
Apr 4, '11
at one of my jobs i almost always get a lunch break, at the other almost never.
at the one where i do get a break, we take a full hour b/c chances are you won't get away on 3 seperate occassions to do your 30 min lunch and 2 15 minute breaks. we plan swaps with someone next to us, it usually works out as planned. everyone on our unit makes sure everyone gets a break and if for some reason we can't, our manager makes sure we get paid for the break we didn't take.
Sep 18, '11
I haven't had lunch in 35 years....rarely get paid for it. It comes down to staffing by numbers. You can't leave 1 nurse in an ICU and when they staff only 2...oh well, you loose. Administration won't understand why we won't leave because that would be admitting that staffing by accuity makes more sense than staffing by patient numbers, but hospital's are a business now and patients are our customers. Boy was that a mistake. Morally staff does not leave because we truely care about the safety of our patients, more so, than our own sanity. We are currently making an all our effort to try and take lunches, some days it works, some days it doesn't.....again, it's what going on in the unit that is the determining factor. Just having 1 more set of hands would make all the difference but that does not make economical sense to the accountants running the place. Maybe they need to become patients and see how it would be to suddenly not have a nurse for 30 minutes....maybe then......
Sep 24, '11
Depends on the shift. There are nights where I will always get a break and other nights where I am constantly running and don't even have time! We don't get paid for our 30 minutes but if we work a shift and don't get a lunch we are supposed to let our manager know, that way we'll get paid for those 30 minutes.
I work in New York state as a Registered Nurse.
I work 8hrs but get paid for 7.5hrs
My question is, can my boss make me take a break only after 2 hours of work?
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