Do Other Professionals Skip Restroom Breaks And Meals? - page 10

by TheCommuter 19,978 Views | 99 Comments Senior Moderator

I sometimes believe that inpatient bedside nursing is intertwined in a bizarre professional culture where the skipping of bathroom breaks and lunch periods is not only common, but occasionally encouraged by our peers and the... Read More


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    One thing I haven't seen addressed in this thread so far regarding the "only takes two minutes to pee" school of thought is the fact that quite a few of the facilities I am in every week have, in my opinion, a pathetic lack of staff bathrooms and/or break areas. Many of the nursing facilities I visit have as few as 1 staff bathroom for the entire facility: nursing, housekeeping, dietary, rehab and admin staff numbering perhaps 50 people in total during a week day shift all sharing 1 bathroom. The logisitics of getting there from your primary work location plus the very real chance that when you do get to the bathroom it is already in use definitely add up and make it more than a "two minute" chore to urinate.

    The break room situations can be as bad. Almost every multistory facility I enter has 1 break room for the entire building; not one per floor. Other places have a converted storage closet which barely contains a mini fridge, compact microwave, table and four chairs. You had better be OK with being very cosy with your co workers if you have to take a meal break in there because you will be literally rubbing elbows when you try to eat. So even if the management implements a break time policy of staff relieving each other there is nowhere for them to go on site or what is available is inadequate for more than 4-5 people to take a meal break at any given time.

    One last thing about eating on the go, keeping snacks in your pockets. Most of the facilities I have worked at or currently visit for audits have policies forbidding the carrying of food and snacks in your uniform or eating at the nurses station or in the hallways so one runs possible disciplinary action if you try to munch on that magic granola bar.

    No nursing is not the only job or profession that expects people to be interchangable with machines and run constantly during the work day without a break. However just because we aren't alone in suffering from this maladaptive management style doesn't make it OK or just something we should accept and never mention or attempt to change. I personally have been subject to disciplinary action because I took a bathroom break instead of literally voiding on myself. I quit that job and I spread the word widely among all my friends about how that particular company treats it staff. And this was a non clinical utilization review job. The company had contracted to keep telephone hold times down to less than two minutes but they refused to hire enough nurses to answer the phones so that people could take bathroom breaks. I told my supervisor that I had to go to bathroom an hour before I finally did leave my desk and she repeatedly refused to relieve me. Finally I had to take care of my needs and returned (more than 2 minutes but less than 6 minutes) later to find a write up on my desk. I quit at the end of the day. So realize that there can be consequences for simply trying to take care of basic biological needs if an employer choses to view one as less than human or worthy of basic respect.
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    I'm a brand new nurse, been on my own for three weeks after a 1 month orientation. Out of three weeks I've only had lunch two of those days and used the restroom once. For me, I'm still so focused on trying to get everything done that usually don't even notice that I haven't peed or eaten for 12 hours. I've just gotten used to it. Although I can definitely tell that I am thinking much less clearly by the end of my shift and I think that has to do with low blood sugar.
    anotherone likes this.
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    You have labour laws in place for a reason. Breaks are supposed to be mandatory, not a privilege. That's exactly why burnout is so high in nursing. On a side (but related) note, in many countries, health care is universal, a right for citizens (ie: Canada, Australia, UK). While each system has their flaws, you have to wonder why the US economy is still in such terrible shape if the system is working. Clearly, something is flawed there.
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    Quote from Flatlander
    I'm wondering if anyone on this forum is or has been employed in a Magnet Hospital. I hear they're supposed to be nurse-friendly. Anyone out there have experience in one of them? Is it any better? Do nurses feel empowered to effect change?
    Worked in two magnet hospitals ,, recently.

    They are the WORST . Review the Magnet criteria.
    Jessy_RN, Hoozdo, anotherone, and 1 other like this.
  5. 1
    I always use the bathroom when I need to. It takes 2 minutes, and we have a staff bathroom right on the unit. Sometimes I have to hold it for a bit, but I eventually go. I don't always get an uninterrupted 30 minute lunch break, but I can always at least choke down a sandwich while charting. My boss is okay with covered drinks at the nurses' station, so a bottle of pop or water is okay. We don't get a lunch break deducted from our pay, so that's nice and makes me less irritable about only having 10 minutes to eat before the aid comes to get me to tell me rm 7 needs something for pain.

    Everytime I see people doing road work in 100 degree temperatures with cars swerving past them at 70 mph I'm thankful for my job.
    anotherone likes this.
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    Quote from Been there,done that
    Worked in two magnet hospitals ,, recently.

    They are the WORST . Review the Magnet criteria.
    I work in a magnet hospital and I think my conditions and our nurse/patient ratios are pretty good compared to most of what I read here.
    anotherone likes this.
  7. 0
    I was high school teacher at a poorly organized urban school. I didn't know what food was. I exaggerate but I did average 1.5 meals a day. I lived on coffee and so did my most of the other teachers. Lunch was only 30 minutes <if you weren't busy> and you didn't get breaks. Hard to tell students sorry, I can't teach this lesson because I want to take a break. Of course, some have it better and I wasn't a teacher for long. I don't like living like that but I can adjust. I've learned a great deal of time management since (non work hours).
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    Funny how both nursing and teaching(both female heavy professions) have workers who don't have time for lunch, to pee, and are encouraged to martyr themselves for the people they serve.
    VanLpn, noyesno, wooh, and 2 others like this.
  9. 1
    I don't mind working through a lunch break so long as I am not docked 30 minutes for a break I didn't get. That drives me crazy For some reason administration thought if you worked evenings, you did not have an excuse to miss your lunch break, and if you didn't take it you chose to do so. We were actually told this. It was only acceptable to claim you missed your break if you worked day shift. The crazy thing is, I never missed a lunch break on day shift. The facility had 4 aids on days and 3 on evenings. I always got a full 30 minute break on day shift because of the way the schedule was set up and the extra aid.

    A week of being docked for breaks I didn't take means I am not being paid for 2.5 hours of work. If you stay over because someone is running late, you don't get paid over time because you have 37.5 hours instead of 40 hours.

    I alwaystook any chace I gotto go to the bathroom. I don't havethe best bladder control, and it kind of just hits me when I need to go. WHich sucks if your doing something like snacks where you are not allowed to leave the dining room for half an hour.
    wooh likes this.
  10. 2
    Quote from GadgetRN71
    Funny how both nursing and teaching(both female heavy professions) have workers who don't have time for lunch, to pee, and are encouraged to martyr themselves for the people they serve.
    It is also no coincidence that the female-dominated professions (nursing, school teaching, social work, librarianship) tend to be lower-paying for the high level of accountability involved.
    JHU2016 and wooh like this.


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