Do Nurses eat their....lunch?

  1. 0 Just out of curiosity I am wondering how many nurses get an assigned lunch break and how many actually take it.
    I work in a small community hospital, a ten bed ICU. It can be somewhat busy some days but then there are days when if lunch were assigned and my co-workers could organize themselves, we could all have a 30 minute break on our 12 hour days. Instead everyone decides at the last minute they are going to "run and get something" (our cafeteria closes at 1pm) they then bring it back to the station and eat while answering call lights, the phone, charting and letting visitors in.
    When I am in charge I post a lunch break schedule for people to fill in the time they would like to go, based on what they feel may come their way during the shift. It is my attempt to get them organized. There are many days when others are in charge that no lunch break is even thought of till almost 12:30 or 1pm. I then ask if anyone has thought of lunch and I get a "roll of the eyes." People seem pretty content to eat on the run but I feel like an outcast because I need a few minutes to decompress during my shift. Another "no-no", is that if I am not assigned lunch and I have no opportunity to take 30 minutes, I put in for "no lunch", to get paid for it. In reality we should get three 15 min. breaks and a 30 min lunch. (We sign in 15min before our shift and out 15min after because we do not get a paid lunch break) Thoughts?
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  3. Visit  massrn116} profile page

    About massrn116

    Joined Jan '09; Posts: 117; Likes: 182.

    49 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  SunnyAndrsn} profile page
    0
    I find it very difficult to take a lunch break consistantly. But I'd say about half the time something happens (8 hour shift) where i can't take a break. Residents fall, I get an admit, unstable pt needs to be sent to the hospital, etc.
  5. Visit  Katie82} profile page
    0
    In the ten years I did bedside nursing, I can count the number of lunch breaks I was able to take on one hand. Forget the 15 minute breaks. When I was a first-year nursing student, we had a very floor-savvy instructor who advised us "learn to make it through your clinicals without a bathroom break and learn to eat on the run." Truer words were never spoken. I have had office and clinical jobs for the past 15 years, and not much has changed. Although I can now take my lunch hour if I want, I usually get busy and eat at my desk.
  6. Visit  RochesterRN-BSN} profile page
    1
    LOL Lunch whats that!?!? 5 1/2 years as a nurse and very few full lunches. I find that signing up made it worse.. You never know when is a "quiet time" until it is there. The time I have set for me to go may not go well based on what I have on my plate at time. I may have no 1300 meds or most or all of my patients would have 1300 meds. Its 1220 and your scheduled to go at 1230 and a CNA comes to you to say they were emptying the patients colostomy bag and the who thing needs to be replaced as it is half off and the patient is laying in a bed full of ****!! There goes that lunch. You can't expect that poor patient to lay in that and like the nurse who is suppose to cover for you is gonna change it for you!?!?! hell no! lol You finish up with that and now its 1245--okay you got 15 minutes.....well no now my vent patients alarms are going off I go in and he's sating 80 and needs suctioning and vent adjusted of a bit, RT needs to come up and crap now he has **** bed with C-Diff tube feed poop and the CNAs can't change him alone as they are nervous witht the vent patients. Yeah done patient is stable again and clean and well now it 1320! Bye bye lunch! Get the idea?!!? not realistic. Now I work in psych ER and have to eat while I write up an eval...... I got used to the whole idea of not getting a full 30 minute lunch off the unit a long time ago. ....and in psych you need all the staff available on the unit in case of an emergency.....
    rkitty198 likes this.
  7. Visit  rkitty198} profile page
    6
    I hardly even get to drink water! I carry small candies in my pocket for those times were I feel like I am going to pass out. I cant stand those managers that say we dont allocate our time right and we should be able to take a 30minute break. With the phones we have ringing off the hook I cannot even go to the bathroom! Other nurses I work with really cannot cover my patients when an MD comes in, maybe for a beeping IV, so I go without, making up for it after work. Unhealthy is all I can say. I try not to eat at the desk or on the run, it is gross to me, I dont trust those to wash their hands.....
    Truly a loved profession, yet it is one that leaves you emotionally and physically exhausted, and they want me to do overtime and be on three committees...geez!
    Lyn914, tokmom, Ginger80, and 3 others like this.
  8. Visit  DorthyinOZ} profile page
    1
    in one word....no!
    merri666 likes this.
  9. Visit  rngolfer53} profile page
    23
    Quote from Katie82
    In the ten years I did bedside nursing, I can count the number of lunch breaks I was able to take on one hand. Forget the 15 minute breaks. When I was a first-year nursing student, we had a very floor-savvy instructor who advised us "learn to make it through your clinicals without a bathroom break and learn to eat on the run." Truer words were never spoken. I have had office and clinical jobs for the past 15 years, and not much has changed. Although I can now take my lunch hour if I want, I usually get busy and eat at my desk.
    Sorry, but the clinical instructor's "advice" is exactly why nurses are treated as doormats so often.

    Lose the martyr and/or supernurse attitude. (Speaking of the instructor, not you, Katie)

    No other profession would allow themselves to be treated this way, and no, a union isn't, or shouldn't be required to stand up for your own interests.

    It is simply unhealthy, and bad for Pts as well to have nurses who are retaining urine, lacking hydration, and exhausted mentally and physically.
    Hygiene Queen, canoehead, Tarabara, and 20 others like this.
  10. Visit  theVaway} profile page
    2
    My first nursing job 10 months long, just switched, everyone on days and evenings got a 45 minute lunch break. They said it was their 30+15min combined. We have a telephone system connected to our call lights and we would give a quick description of what was going on with our patients hand our phone off and head to lunch. Now nights, you took what you could get. That was something that really surprised me about days and evenings how much the floor staff had perfected it so that everyone got time away and relaxation. They had everyone assigned lunch 1 or 2 in an order on the floor so that the one group could easily cover the next four or five patients down the hall. I think that really helped keep them refreshed and ready throughout the day.
    Last edit by theVaway on Feb 1, '09 : Reason: spelling
    RNKel and rkitty198 like this.
  11. Visit  rkitty198} profile page
    0
    Quote from rngolfer53
    Sorry, but the clinical instructor's "advice" is exactly why nurses are treated as doormats so often.

    Lose the martyr and/or supernurse attitude. (Speaking of the instructor, not you, Katie)

    No other profession would allow themselves to be treated this way, and no, a union isn't, or shouldn't be required to stand up for your own interests.

    It is simply unhealthy, and bad for Pts as well to have nurses who are retaining urine, lacking hydration, and exhausted mentally and physically.
    I would not call what we do as being martyr's, but we do take a lot of injustice, here we are promoting the best for the patient while we get treated as doormats. I think that the clinical instructors advise was actually telling the students the truth, without giving them ideas on how to not get treated badly, she allowed it and actually promoted it.
    What can we do?
  12. Visit  Sugarcoma} profile page
    4
    When I was a first-year nursing student, we had a very floor-savvy instructor who advised us "learn to make it through your clinicals without a bathroom break and learn to eat on the run."

    I had a clinical instructor who told us exactly the opposite, she said we should always demand both our lunches and our breaks and that we should not let anyone make us feel guilty for taking them she also said if for some reason we did not get them that we should be paid for them. I agree with this advice in theory but can see where it could be difficult to carry out in practice. I will be graduating in May and am unsure of my ability to handle 12 hours with no food or bathroom break but at the same time, in the the current economic times I am not so sure I would be brave enough to do anything that may jeapordize my employment.
    BrandonLPN, Scrubby, SunnyAndrsn, and 1 other like this.
  13. Visit  Free2bmevt} profile page
    2
    I agree. One thing MY clinical instructors insist on is taking our dinner breaks, she feels that we need to get into the habit now of learning how to take time to decompress. It is best for the nurse, the patient and the happiness of the unit if the nurses aren't starving and exhausted.
    AvenueQT and RNKel like this.
  14. Visit  mamafeliz} profile page
    16
    It is an infringement of labor law to consistently miss lunch breaks. Not that we as nurses don't have it worked into our culture to "not be weanies". If we are good nurses and committed to patient care, we won't "short our patients" and be indulgent enough to take a full 30 minutes away from our patients, right? Yes, I am bitter about this. Leave it to a profession that has historically been a woman"s profession to be so ridiculously self sacrificing.

    So, this is my take, and what is legal. Staffing should be adequate enough that all nurses are able to step away from their patient assignments and have another nurse assume whatever patient care responsibilities are being left behind. No need for a pager, no risk of being called back. It is supposed to be a 30 minutes AWAY, both physically and mentally.

    This issue exploded on our very busy floor last year, where all nurses were chronically not getting lunch breaks. A letter was written to immediate supervisors describing the unsafe staffing assignments and dangerous lack of breaks. Let's face it, none of us are working at our best when unable to eat or hydrate, ESPECIALLY when working a 12 hour shift. There was no concrete resolution from that meeting, although some attempts made to remedy how to get breaks, ie a "buddy system", where one nurse would be responsible for double the number of patients. Unworkable on our floor. Eventually, a more pointed letter was drafted to the Board of Directors and CEOs of the hospital describing the actual bedside reality. We got some action pretty quickly. Our charge nurse is now no longer assuming a patient load so she can assist in giving breaks more consistently, staffing ratios have been more concretely defined, and we attempt to have a "flex" nurse to help give breaks, assist in emergencies, float the floor to give assistance where needed.

    It is a legal issue, and no hospital competing for private patients would want the public perception of having overworked, fatigued nurses on the edge of blacking out caring for vulnerable patients. There is protection for workers pointing out unsafe working conditions.

    Not only are we now getting our breaks, our overall staffing is better, even in light of the current fiscal crisis. There is the occassional shift where a lunch is missed, when things are exploding. We all step up and expect that sometimes. But the NORM is that we get our lunch. Push the issue of bedside safety. It is real and consumers EXPECT attentive safe nursing attention. It is our responsibility to insure that is what we are able to deliver.
    aachavez, massrn116, Scrubby, and 13 others like this.
  15. Visit  learning08} profile page
    8
    Yes, I take my full 30 minutes every time, even though actual lunchtime varies day by day depending on what's going on. Our unit is well run when it comes to lunch breaks. I hand my pagers over to my lunch buddy for that day and get off the unit. If something urgent happens during the half-hour, my lunch buddy takes care of it just as I take care of things for him/her--no biggie. I don't mind to clean up my buddy's Pt., give a prn med, or hang a new IV bag while s/he's gone...it's just 30 minutes. In my jobs prior to nursing, we took an hour for lunch. Half an hour is a short break, the least each of us deserves. I am not working for 12+ hours without a lunch, and I sure as heck prioritize voiding my bladder when the time comes, because I must take care of numero uno.

    I resent that nursing instructor's philosophy (mentioned in one of the above posts). Our instructors emphasized the need for a break. I refuse to be a martyr. No staying 4 hours late beyond a 12-hour shift when I have to be back the next morning (I'm sorry, I don't operate on 4 hours of sleep), no skipping lunch and bathroom breaks unless there's an emergency, no getting called in for extra shifts, no coming in to work sick as a dog, no pulling and lifting pts. by myself without help (and I am always glad to help out a CNA...NOONE should be breaking their back). I am nice, but firm about saying no and asking for help. We deserve respect, and we owe respect to ourselves.
    Last edit by learning08 on Feb 1, '09
    canoehead, aachavez, massrn116, and 5 others like this.


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