Only RN on duty

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    Just wondering if other nurses deal with the issue of being the only nurse (no LPN or other RN) scheduled. I work med/psych in a hospital setting. I have raised the issue of no breaks and was told I could "go somewhere and put your feet up". Am uncomfortable with this as this leaves support staff to monitor the unit. Any ideas?
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    I always took my breaks when I was the only nurse. I just told them to come and get me in case of an emergency.
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    Quote from medpsychRN
    Just wondering if other nurses deal with the issue of being the only nurse (no LPN or other RN) scheduled. I work med/psych in a hospital setting. I have raised the issue of no breaks and was told I could "go somewhere and put your feet up". Am uncomfortable with this as this leaves support staff to monitor the unit. Any ideas?

    IL is not a right to work state, so your employer must follow federal labor laws, one of which mandates a 15 minute paid break for every 4 hours worked. "Just go somewhere and put your feet up" does not constitute a paid break. Inform your employer that you will not accept anything short of a break off the unit, during which time a qualified person relieves you. I've worked in a number of units staffed by a single RN, and never had a problem with employers being unwilling to provide relief. This could be a nurse from a neighboring unit, a supervisor, a house doctor. etc.
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    Thanks for your quick reply. I have complained about not having a break. The usual response is along the line of it's rough but with a low census they can't justify paying 2 nurses. There are 3 separate units and they all function in the same way. Thus, having another nurse relieve me isn't always possible. I've spoken with several nurses who have worked at other hospitals and in psych, this seems to be a fairly common occurance. I recognize this issue at some level isn't my problem and that I do have some choices. I appreciate your response. It gives me something to think about!
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    It's interesting. I worked in Psych when I was an LPN in California. I was the only licensed nurse working with CNA's only. I could only take my breaks at the nurses station. Made me feel clastrophobic sometimes. What was even worse is when my relief didn't show up. I couldn't just leave at the end of my shift!! I wonder if it is a problem specific to psych.?????
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    I'm not sure this is a problem just in psych. I wondered if this also happened in long term care facilities.

    I work primarily nights and ancillary staff who are supposed to be awake do doze off. If something happens I am the one they'll hold accountable. Psych patients do some pretty strange things and their behavior is not always predictable.

    I don't like being the only nurse but I do love my job and am paid very well. Hard for me to forgo some of the best parts of the job because I'm inconvenienced a few times a year.
  10. 0
    Quote from Jolie
    IL is not a right to work state, so your employer must follow federal labor laws, one of which mandates a 15 minute paid break for every 4 hours worked. "Just go somewhere and put your feet up" does not constitute a paid break. Inform your employer that you will not accept anything short of a break off the unit, during which time a qualified person relieves you. I've worked in a number of units staffed by a single RN, and never had a problem with employers being unwilling to provide relief. This could be a nurse from a neighboring unit, a supervisor, a house doctor. etc.
    Federal labor laws apply to everyone, even in a right to work state. Federal law always trumps state laws.
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    Quote from ayndim
    Federal labor laws apply to everyone, even in a right to work state. Federal law always trumps state laws.
    You are correct. I was just doing some research a couple hours ago trying to find what we are legally supposed to have for breaks and lunch. Unfortunately on the OSHA and Nat'l Board of Labor websites it says there is no law allowing for a specific number of breaks. It just says that for breaks you still get paid, but if you take a lunch you don't get paid unless during the lunch time you have to answer a phone or watch a monitor or perform some sort of duty (this I knew). So I'd love if someone would give me a source which actually does guarantee the commonly quoted minimum of 30 min lunch and two 15 min breaks for an 8 hour workday.
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    My first job was in a LTC and I was the only nurse at night with 1 aid for 65 residents. No breaks or anything plus the safety issue. I was there 2 weeks and gave my notice.
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    Quote from psychrn03
    You are correct. I was just doing some research a couple hours ago trying to find what we are legally supposed to have for breaks and lunch. Unfortunately on the OSHA and Nat'l Board of Labor websites it says there is no law allowing for a specific number of breaks. It just says that for breaks you still get paid, but if you take a lunch you don't get paid unless during the lunch time you have to answer a phone or watch a monitor or perform some sort of duty (this I knew). So I'd love if someone would give me a source which actually does guarantee the commonly quoted minimum of 30 min lunch and two 15 min breaks for an 8 hour workday.
    Actually there is not a fedeal law that mandates breaks. Sorry I was just trying to point out that federal law is the final word. Most places have a policy that you get a 15 min break for every 4 hours worked. If your facility does have a policy it applies to all employees and they cannot pick and choose. I have never worked anywhere that did not have a break policy, whether it was taken or not is a different matter.


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