Need a little help with something that has been bothering me - page 2

I started a new job in MICU in November. It turns out that the nurses on the unit do not take their lunch break or any other breaks. When I asked about leaving the unit for a lunch break I was told... Read More

  1. by   moh_sir
    :spin:
    Quote from medicrnohio
    I started a new job in MICU in November. It turns out that the nurses on the unit do not take their lunch break or any other breaks. When I asked about leaving the unit for a lunch break I was told by my preceptor "Oh we don't leave for lunch breaks. We just stay right here and eat in the kitchen." The kitchen is a little room no bigger than my closet and my closet is small. She said that we don't leave because there is no one to cover our patients. This is happening in all of the ICU units at my hospital. The thing is...they take 1/2 hour from my pay every workday for a lunch break that I don't even take. I know I shouldn't have let it go this far but I really need some insight into this situation. I know it seems petty but that is 1 1/2 hours of missed pay every week.
    :spin:
  2. by   Lacie
    I believe this is typical of most ICU's/ER's situations with staffing. Take a bite of a sandwich then run out to change a bed then back to the sandwich. If I didnt get my entire break and couldnt leave the unit I used to get the manager to document on my time card I worked my break. They didnt like it but if I'm working I expect to be paid for it. After the first few times they started working it out for scheduled break/lunches where we could leave the floor as it was costing too much OT in the long run. Once the other RN's realized they also could insist on pay for the time they started having it marked they worked thier breaks. Dont threaten to contact labor relations just do it anonymously if you cant get anywhere with management. One nurse did just that and it cost them over $25,000 in fines and had to double pay the owed time to each nurse.
  3. by   sphinx
    When I worked in SICU, on days and eves, charge made sure we all had a lunch break. We had 3 lunches, so we all had coverage. Because we had 8 hour workers and 12 hour workers, it evened out pretty well who took break when. Sometimes we didn't get to break right on time, but that was frowned upon because then it made the next person's lunch late, too. If things got totally crazy, we could mark no lunch on our sheet, but that too was frowned upon.

    Once I floated to MICU and was so behind because I couldn't find things, then had a couple unusual things crop up. I wanted to finish the one thing I was doing, when the charge came to me and told me to go on break. We are talking a 15 minute break in the morning. She literally made me go, despite me saying I usually don't take 15 minute breaks, I was ok without one, and really wanted to finish what I was doing. She pointed the way to the break room and said see you in 15 minutes. It seemed like no time at all had passed before she came to me and said it's lunch time, sign off to so and so and go right now. It was so weird, I've never experienced anything like that, ever.
  4. by   chuck1234
    Talk to your union representative!!!!!
    I am working for the city hospital, and I am also working in the ICU. Anyhow, I always have an hour lunch break!!
  5. by   SuesquatchRN
    No place in Nerw York State will permit one to CLAIM no lunch and no fifteen minute breaks fore and aft. That doesn't mean one gets to take them.

    My last place didn't permit you to leave the unit. This place does.

    Understaffed is understaffed.
  6. by   medicrnohio
    Some of you had some great thoughts and suggestions. I am going to start telling them that I am going to take a my lunch break (then I'll work on my other breaks). At times it isn't that we don't have time to take a break, it is that the unit culture is such that taking a lunch is a taboo thing but going to sleep in patient care areas is not. Yes, that is right...many of the nurses on night shift sleep for hours at a time. I could never go to sleep while I am work, sure I may feel like it but I could never do it. Management knows about the sleeping and they do NOTHING about it.
  7. by   RNsRWe
    Quote from Suesquatch
    No place in Nerw York State will permit one to CLAIM no lunch and no fifteen minute breaks fore and aft. That doesn't mean one gets to take them.

    My last place didn't permit you to leave the unit. This place does.

    Understaffed is understaffed.
    I was wondering about this: does this mean NYS labor board won't help? I know in my hospital, claiming you didn't take a lunch, and going so far as to fill out overtime slips, won't matter. They just say "well, take your meal breaks and other breaks, *someone* will cover for you". But of course there IS no one to cover for you--who, one of the other two nurses left who has nine patients of her own, and now is taking on your nine? Not likely.

    Have you tried the labor board route and it went nowhere?
  8. by   Hoozdo
    Quote from medicrnohio
    Some of you had some great thoughts and suggestions. I am going to start telling them that I am going to take a my lunch break (then I'll work on my other breaks). At times it isn't that we don't have time to take a break, it is that the unit culture is such that taking a lunch is a taboo thing but going to sleep in patient care areas is not. Yes, that is right...many of the nurses on night shift sleep for hours at a time. I could never go to sleep while I am work, sure I may feel like it but I could never do it. Management knows about the sleeping and they do NOTHING about it.
    Well, there ya go. If there is time for sleeping, there is time for a 30 minute lunch break
    I don't know how in the world they justify sleeping at work but NOT leaving the unit for 30 minutes!
  9. by   mslinzyann
    What about people who are hypoglycemic? I have to eat, or I will pass out cold!
  10. by   kittagirl
    0.5 hrs a shift
    1.5hrs a week
    If you work 3 shifts a month, that’s 4.5hrs a month
    Over a year that’s 54hrs if you work a 34.5 hr week

    And that’s assuming that you always get off on time.
    And again that you work 34.5 a week

    That a week and a half, or so that you’re working for FREE.

    I once worked in a place where it seemed to be a sign of weakness to take breaks. The ward manager prided herself on not taking breaks and the attitude flowed down.
    I started on the unit at the same time as 2 others and we were all horrified.
    None of us would leave a patient in danger or distress, but from our experiences it was poor time management rather than any other reason.
    At first it was difficult we were all new and also new grads, but we did manage to slowly change things.

    Some times it take some one new to come in to wake people up a little.
    But it’s all in the way you do it.

    One thing that worked well was when we worked with another RN I’d keep an eye out till they’d have a lull in their work and then say oh I’m sorted at the moment do you want me to keep an eye on your patient while you go for a break? It always worked, they were so shocked at someone volunteering to help them, and they’d be on their break before they’d remember that ‘they didn’t do breaks’
    When they’d return we’d quickly run through anything that might have happened with their patients anything to keep an eye on for mine and firmly say I’m going for break now.

    The one time some one did ask me why I made a big deal of it I’d say to them well it’s a matter of patient safety really, it is an accepted biological fact that you perform less well/ less safely if you’re dehydrated and or have low blood sugar, and I think too much of my patients to subject them to an avoidable risk.
    And then I’d quote the above figures at them also.
    The nurses that weren’t swayed by the ‘avoidable risk’ argument , were by the fact that they were working a lot of free hours.

    Where I worked we did 13 shifts in a 28 day period.
    We were paid for 11.5 hrs but worked 12.5
    so in a month that was the equivalent of one unpaid shift a month
    12 shifts a year, just under a month unpaid.
    If you were asked to work for a month unpaid would you?
  11. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from RNsRWe
    I was wondering about this: does this mean NYS labor board won't help? I know in my hospital, claiming you didn't take a lunch, and going so far as to fill out overtime slips, won't matter. They just say "well, take your meal breaks and other breaks, *someone* will cover for you". But of course there IS no one to cover for you--who, one of the other two nurses left who has nine patients of her own, and now is taking on your nine? Not likely.

    Have you tried the labor board route and it went nowhere?
    Never even thought about it.

    First, it is what it is.

    Second, taking that route is a sure-fire way to lose. No one is going to back you up, so management will just call you a liar and your coworkers will agree.

    See? Lose-lose.
  12. by   pipersjo
    I completly understand where the OP is coming from. I am not even a nurse yet (I work in telemetry) and over the weekend had a patient DIE and no one else in the room noticed. I stepped out to grab something to eat and, of course, that's when it happened. The only good (if you can call it that!) thing about it, was that it was a MICU patient and they expected it to happen. We get yelled at all of the time for not taking our breaks, but I step out for 5 minutes and somehing like this happens. I'd like to see management cover our breaks if they are so insistent that we get them! :spin:
  13. by   RNsRWe
    Quote from Suesquatch
    Never even thought about it.

    First, it is what it is.

    Second, taking that route is a sure-fire way to lose. No one is going to back you up, so management will just call you a liar and your coworkers will agree.

    See? Lose-lose.
    Unfortunately, I DO see. I have felt this way for a long time: if I say something to someone important, no one will step forward and stand with me. They prefer to look like "good" employees. So I'll get screwed over as the "petty" employee.

    And if I do nothing (which is where it's at now), I simply work through my unpaid meal breaks AND my paid breaks, which amounts to an hour of free work time for my hospital unit. EVERY time I work. So that's an hour times six shifts a week, equals six hours of free time I work for them each pay period. I don't even want to multiply it further.

    I have read time and again from those who say "talk to your union representative!!!" We're not unionized. I read "don't take it, TAKE your breaks!" and 'patient abandonment' comes to mind, since there IS NO ONE to take my patient load. I'm not being a martyr, I'm protecting my license AND my conscience. Would you leave a daycare with nine special needs children in it for a half hour break, knowing that no one is available to watch the kiddies? I think not. Or I'd HOPE not.

    So I guess the answer is accept the shift differential as a bribe to shut up and do the ridiculous. Know that days gets their breaks and nights won't, but hey, you get another five bucks an hour. Wonderful.

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