"Venting" about "smoke breaks" (coming from a former smoker)

  1. I work at a "smoke free" campus. That said, smokers have still been allowed to go across the street and burn one on their breaks. 12 hour shifts, 30 minutes for lunch, two 15 minute breaks.

    Historically, the smokers could take the pre and post lunch breaks to do as they please. As of 2/14/07, the smokers can no longer smoke on paid breaks. As a long standing believer of "do whatever you want to your own body, even if it kills you," I ironically find myself supporting this 110%.

    On an average day, actually 99% of days, I don't find time to take my breaks. And when I do, I'm usually in the break room charting. When one of my patients needs something, I'm readily available.

    When the smokers go out for a smoke, they don't go alone. They go out in groups. Today, two RN's (including the charge nurse), a CNA, and an orderly all went out at the same time. Leaving only two RN's, no CNA's and no orderly to tend to the needs of 18 patients. This happened FOUR times today outside of the lunch break. As "superstitions" go, as soon as they split, every call bell went off. Everyone needed a bedpan, pain meds, an IV bag change, etc. This happens nearly every time the group goes out. Murphy's Law, ya know. They page a doc for orders, then aren't around when the doc calls back. Two RN's left to do the work of four RN's, a CNA and an orderly. And on some odd days, the unit secretary as well.

    Again, I am an ex-smoker with a few remaining vices. But I find it unacceptable that 2/3 of the staff can go outside and leave the rest of us responsible for their patients, especially when they take double the breaks that most of the rest of us don't find time to take at all.

    If you want to leave the building, do it one at a time, as that leaves the rest of us enough staff to handle patient care and physician babysitting duty. When you go out in a group, you're tripling the work load of the rest of us.

    Having vented, I'm not really sure where I was going with this. I guess I just wanted to gripe about tonight, and many, many other nights.

    I don't preach to co-workers, as they all know better. But if it weren't for the new policy going into effect next month, I'm pretty sure I'd end up slapping a few of them silly for dumping their patients on me and a few others while they abuse breaks and leave the rest of us hanging.

    That said, I was on the verge of demanding chocolate milkshake breaks every four hours to go along with the smokers. At least you could page me from the cafeteria.

    Originally, I had a slim margin of sympathy for the puffers, as I've been there for over a decade and used to go out (by) myself, but today's events totally squashed that.

    No direct attack on smokers here, just the smokers I work with that abuse the privilege and dump on co-workers and compromise patient care in the process.

    Any thoughts on this from others? Any thoughts on smoking policies at work? Again, I'm normally the guy that sputters incessantly about personal rights, but I've evolved (gotten older and less dumb) enough to realize that compromising the quality of care crosses the line.

    In conclusion, I'll be awaiting your responses whilst sipping a fine merlot I've been saving for months. The special occasion? I didn't go buy a pack of smokes after the day from hell.

    Ciggie free for 3+ years,

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    About broadstreet

    Joined: Dec '06; Posts: 17
    Med/Surg RN
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience in Med/Surg