slave labor - page 4

I work in a medium sized er. Busy place. Usually am charge rn & triage rn (if not triage, I take on full assignment-4 pts., sometimes more if we are using hall beds). It is almost impossible to be... Read More

  1. by   suzanne4
    just a note:

    use this forum for constructive ideas, not for criticizing one another. personal attacks are not permitted on this forum.

    please come out and play nice.

    each is entitled to their own opinion, please do not critique another if they do not have the same beliefs as you. nurses are nurses are nurses.
  2. by   nurturing_angel
    I am a diabetic who used to never get breaks. By the time I would squeeze a lunch break in, my blood sugar would be in the toilet. BTW, at my hospital no eating or drinking in pt care areas or nursing station is allowed so the protein bar in the pocket idea won't fly. One day, while trying to get an admission done on a very nice older gentleman, my blood sugar started to drop. Quite rapidly, I began to sweat, feel nauseous and my hands became very shaky. It was about 3 in the afternoon and I had not had time to get off the floor to eat. Well, my hands were shaking enough that I could barely hold my pen but I was determined to finish this admission. Finally this gentleman spoke out and asked me if I was ill. Always the good nurse, I said no. He pointed out that he had noticed I had a medic alert necklace on and I seemed to be ill and he was just concerned for me. So I told him that I was a diabetic and hadn't eaten lunch but I would go soon. He smiled and said to me..."You'll go now. What good will you be taking care of me if you are lying on the floor somewhere waiting for someone to take care of you?" I went and took a short break.
    Our pts want to trust that we can take care of them and most are smart enough to know we can't do this if we are not taking care of ourselves. My care for my patients starts with my care for myself. It isn't being selfish or anything.

  3. by   SillyLilly
    Quote from NicoleRN07
    I would love to be able to take a lunch break, but it's not something that I'm going to dwell on or complain to management about. There's nothing they nor I can do....we can't lock down the ER until after we've had our dinner. On days that I do get my lunch break, I'm going to enjoy it and be thankful for it, because I know that I may not get one on the next shift.
    I work 12 hour shifts. Granted, Im a new grad and a bit slower and not as organized as my fellow employees, but many days, most of us have not sat down to even chart 5 hours into the shift, and do not have time for a 'lunch' 8 hours into the shift. Then, we get news that we have to take this big admission, or they need to float one of our nurses, and one of the techs are leaving at 330pm with no one coming in to replace them. But they have NO consideration that we have not sat down and eaten or had checked our charts for orders.
    That may be your opinion. Not needing a lunch break. But I WILL NOT STAND FOR IT. I will sooner call my manager down and have them cover while I take a 15 minute break (which is usally alll i take on a 12 hour shift) before skipping it on a regular basis. I have yet to have needed to do that. Most of my fellow day shift nurses will try to accomadate each other to ensure some sort of lunch break. I appreciate that.
    I do agree that this idea of martyrdom is what is contributing to the working conditions many hospitals have for their RNs. I can understand if I were working in a natural disaster area or out in the very rural areas struck with epidemics of illness, say in Africa-which I would do as a volunteer. But I will not accept that here. Not on a continuous basis.
  4. by   carachel2
    How would you have felt knowing that the reason you sat in the waiting room for hours with a broken ankle in severe pain was that the nurses were taking their lunch break
    Somehow you have confused taking a 20-30 minute lunch break with sitting on your dupa and eating bon bons ???!!! GMAB. I would SO much rather my nurse sit and EAT and be refreshed to take care of me than to greet me at 3 in the afternoon and not had anything to eat all day.
  5. by   anne74
    Come on now - you just need to be creative. Why don't you have all the ER nurses wear foleys with leg bags and hook up some TPN? Maybe you could craft some kind of a camel-back back-pak to carry the TPN, so you wouldn't have to bother with an IV pole?

    Seriously - are we forgetting ER nurses are human? They need to eat and pee just like everyone else. All these people who get mad when they hear a nurse is eating his/her lunch while they're sitting in the waiting room - would they ever stand such work conditions in their job? Absolutely not!

    These environments are ridiculuous! And if you stay there and put up with it you are an enabler. Why would the hospital do anything if they have people willing to show up every day?

    I worked on a med/surg floor with the same story - no breaks, no lunch (I lost 17 lbs in 6 months). What did I do? I quit. Now I work in a unit where I not only get lunch every day, but I also get 45 minutes to eat! We even have a nurse come in during the day to cover lunch breaks.

    The only thing management will listen to is when good, experienced nurses start leaving, and they're hit with extra costs to recruit and retain employees. They only know money. Very sad, but very true.

    Good luck!
  6. by   NicoleRN07
    I'm not saying that you should never get a break....believe you me, I enjoy my 30 minutes as much as the next person, all I'm saying is that in the world of nursing, things happen that can not be controlled, and there is not time to take your lunch break, nor is it appropriate. When I am in charge, I always make sure that my staff gets to at least get a few minutes to sit down and regroup, but, when I have 20 people waiting to be seen, 10 to be triaged, 21 already in the back, with a pile of orders that need to be carried out, then NO, we will not have a break until things are at least partially caught up. My needs and the needs of my coworkers are important, but, we can not simply slow down the process of treating patients in the ER while we get our breaks in. Complaining to higher management is going to do no good, because you guys are right, they don't care, but honestly, they can not control the situations that we encounter day to day that sometimes prevent us from getting our breaks. Of course, they could hire more nurses, but really, is that going to make a difference? If you have high volume and high acuity patients, then you need an extra hand or two, and you're just going to have one more nurse who didn't get a break that shift. Nursing is not like most jobs where you get to a stopping point and can leisurely take a lunch, most days there is no stopping point. Sure, you can have a float nurse care for your patients while you break, but when you have an AMI patient who is unstable, are you really going to feel comfortable reporting off to another nurse and going to eat? I know I'm not......I know if I were the patient, then I wouldn't want my nurse to leave me with a different nurse who knew only what was given to her in report so she could go eat. That, in my opinion is selfish, and uncaring. We should never put our needs ahead of our patients, especially when our need is the need to eat, and our patient needs life saving measures.
  7. by   RedcarRN
    I think 99% of people that go into nursing, do so, because they truly care about people. We understand the human body and we know it cannot perform optimally if it doesn't get fuel. This is just a simple fact.

    When the ER staff are 'hammered' shift after shift after shift, it gets very dissheartening. We can't really 'care' for the patients, because we may have an additional 4 patients, each, that are on hallway beds.

    We end up rushing from one patient to another 'doing' things to/for them, but rarely having the time to actually connect with them. If you don't have any kind of break, then you don't even have time to re-connect with your self.
    One of the best things about ER nursing, and one of the main things, I believe, that keeps nurses in this situation, is that you have the opportunity to actually help people with your knowledge, but also, to be able to BE THERE for the patient and family, in, what may be a life-shattering event, for them.

    ER nurses will handle whatever situation comes up, because that is what we can also do. But, if we don't ever have the time (lunch-break) to even connect with ourselves, and we don't feel that we have been able to 'be there' for the patient/family that we know, really needed us. Or for our fellow nurses who may need some warm-fuzzies too. Then the whole 12 hours just seems like a meaningless marathon, one that we failed, because we didn't get to do what we know we should do, the things we do best. Be there and care.

    We can face any challenge and we can see as many patients as are thrown at us, but they're not going to get the care they deserve, or the care that we want to give, and if we don't get to feel like we've done a good job at the end of the day, we're going to burn out.
  8. by   Chaya
    Quote from TrudyRN
    I just thought of something else you could do. Send an anonymous message to your local TV and radio stations and newspaper. Address it to the public. Tell them that, except for dire emergencies, it is dangerous to their health to come to the ER at _____ times because staff are starving and irritable and not thinking clearly, due to never getting a lunch break. I'm sure that would go over well with everyone. Just kidding, LOL, but public outcry might be a good thing. Maybe your local political leaders can help you?
    My thoughts exactly! I don't know how to get the media involved but the message would be: "Be SCARED! Be VERY scared!" Those of us on the inside of healthcare are surprised those few well-publicized disasters you do hear about don't happen far more often; they don't because so many caregivers are operating at 110% for 8-12 hours straight every shift they work!
  9. by   lindarn
    Quote from Chaya
    My thoughts exactly! I don't know how to get the media involved but the message would be: "Be SCARED! Be VERY scared!" Those of us on the inside of healthcare are surprised those few well-publicized disasters you do hear about don't happen far more often; they don't because so many caregivers are operating at 110% for 8-12 hours straight every shift they work!
    The reason that the public does not hear about the dangerous conditions in most hospitals today, is because not enough nurses are unionzed and/or work in "right to work" (for less), and/or "at will states", that give them NO PROTECTION AGAINST A RETALIATORY DISCHARGE". They can be fired for ANYTHING", and hospitals will not hestitate to fire anyone who informs the public about the dangerous, unsafe conditions in hospitals today.

    That was why, ten years ago, when the hospitals started the "downsizing" of nursing care, laid off thousands of experienced nurses, hired thousands of unlicensed assistive personnel, and attempted to run hospitals with as few nurses as possible, nurses had their hands tied, and were unable to inform the public to what was going on. We should have been screaming in the streets. Isn't that what the public schools teachers do? But they have the protection of the Teachers Associations, who carry alot of political clout.

    Do you think that the hospital and nursing home industry are stupid? Just tell nurses for years how "unprofessional" it is to unionize, brainwash them in nursing school, and then you have a group of subservient sheep, who are too scared, to "make waves". It was the perfect crime. And nurses still don't get it. Amazing!

    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Spokane, Washington
    Last edit by lindarn on Mar 12, '07 : Reason: spelling
  10. by   carachel2
    We should never put our needs ahead of our patients, especially when our need is the need to eat, and our patient needs life saving measures.
    I would never stop in the middle of a code to take my lunch break. But the gazillion level 4 and level 5's with their colds, STD's and sore throats can SURELY wait while I eat for 30 minutes. I just don't feel THAT gallant.
  11. by   NurseJacqui
    Are you seriously complaining about 4 patients? I usually have 6-10 and NEVER get a break. Be grateful!
  12. by   NurseJacqui
    "We should never put our needs ahead of our patients, especially when our need is the need to eat, and our patient needs life saving measures. "

    Are you kidding me? Gimme a break. Its not like the nurse is leaving in the middle of a code to go and eat. Get real. I am sure the "clipboard committess" upstairs take a nice hour long lunch break. Working 121/2 hours without a break is hard and unfair. And its not as thought the entire staff would take a break at the same time. Someone would have to cover those patients. Duh.
  13. by   totallytheresa
    Absolutely, we have to take care of ourselves in order to be able to take care of others. There are days when I have gone nearly the whole 12 hour shift without eating or realizing I haven't gone pee all day, but the longer I am a nurse, the fewer those days are. I know how I perform without a few minutes of peace, and some food, drink.. I need to recharge my batteries at least once a day! Maybe the whole half hour for lunch won't happen, but we need to keep ourselves nourished and energized.
    On most days that I haven't taken the unpaid 1/2 hour, I will mark that on the time sheet, because I don't work for free! But I will rarely go without at least taking a few minutes to eat, and I work in a very busy level 1 trauma icu.

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