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Sitting at work


I recently shadowed in the pediatric CICU. It looked amazing! I noticed that a lot of nurses stand when they could be sitting to document or do other things. The patients are tiny; a nurse could even do a lot of work on the patient while sitting. Is it looked down on if a nurse sits? I get back pain when I have to stand for too long, but I feel like this shouldn't prevent me from working there because I can sit and do things like document. I worry that the culture of the unit may make me feel like I have to stand though. What have your experiences been with standing and sitting at work?


Specializes in L&D. Has 3 years experience.

I sit to document and when I start IVs and sometimes when going over discharge papers.

CelticGoddess, BSN, RN

Specializes in Palliative, Onc, Med-Surg, Home Hospice. Has 6 years experience.

I sit whenever possible. I will sit and do an admission history, I sit when I chart and I sit when I start IV's. Being on the patients level helps with communicate, I have found. And I know, when I was a patient, I preferred my nurse to sit and talk with me, instead of standing talking down to me.


Specializes in Critical Care.

I work in an adult ICU, but I often catch myself standing when I could be sitting....and I usually make myself take a chair. You never know when **** will hit the fan and you won't be able to sit even if you wanted to.

Not sure why I find myself standing to chart or whatever I happen to be doing/not doing. Nervous energy maybe?

Pangea Reunited, ASN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

I stand a lot, but that's because I get interrupted a lot and am always ready to dash off. If there's some true down time, I'll sit for a while.


Specializes in Home Care Mgmt, Med-Surg. Has 2 years experience.

We often sit to document and to talk to patients. Twelve hours is a long time to only stand if you don't need to.

If you calculate the amount of time per shift that I am sitting, it is easily half of the shift, if not more.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

I am seated during the majority of my shift. Some of my coworkers and managers frown down upon employees who spend an inordinate amount of time sitting, but I've stopped giving a hoot about their perceptions.


Specializes in MCH,NICU,NNsy,Educ,Village Nursing.

When I worked NICU I often sat. At almost 6 feet tall, bending consistently can be pretty uncomfortable. As a NP, I sit when I interview patients, and sometimes when I do part of an exam (like, for feet/lower legs, and of course, pelvic). I guess one advantage of standing is that if something happens and you have to hustle, you save the step of getting up. Nowadays, my hustle isn't much more than a shuffle, though, so I'm not sure it'd make a difference :-)

martymoose, BSN, RN

Specializes in PCCN. Has 18 years experience.

I rarely get to sit. I really need to though, my knees are killing me at the end of the shift.

So much that I think I will have to look into working in a different setting .

I may get to sit maybe 10 minutes out of a 12 hour shift. Sometimes we don't even get a break :(, or if we do its for maybe 15 minutes due to the Patients interrupting us:(


Specializes in Critical Care.

I rarely sit, but I do pee every 15 minutes because I live in constant fear that **** is ABOUT TO GO DOWN and this very well may be my last chance for the rest of the shift lol. Truth.

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

When I work nights, I rarely sit down. This is my choice because an inertia and sleepiness sets in sitting down that makes getting up so much harder. I would rather keep upright and moving. It keeps me alert.

Even working days, I don't sit except for lunch and some charting. I have the most awesome pair of shoes for work. I can stand all day and my feet never hurt.

We have no chairs where I work (stand alone endo facility). Therefore we are literally on our feet for the entire shift. I feel fine during the shift. But by the time I get home, I'm so stiff I can barely get out of my car.

I don't work all that much anymore, though. But most of the staff there is full time. And young, lol.

In my PICU years, I actually spent plenty of time sitting--charting, watching monitors, and occasionally feeding babies. I mean, you could spend hours on your feet with a crash, new admit, or fresh post-op, so taking the opportunity to sit when you could was always a good idea.

I don't think anyone, in ICU or anywhere else, should care about nurses' sitting, as long as their work is done and their patients are safe and settled. Nursing is hard work--rest when you can.


Specializes in Peds Urology,primary care, hem/onc.

I have always worked in peds and am tall (5'11"). I have chronic back issues so I have learned over the years how to sit whenever I can. If I am not careful, I am bending over to take care of my patients all day (b/c of my height) and that is bad for my back. I am an NP now and I sit for most of the visit. I sit when I do the history, I sit next to my patients on the exam table when I examine them, when we discuss the plan of care etc. Our exam rooms have rolling stools so it is easy to get around the room on while sitting. Now I work with another NP and one of the MD's who never sit. They stand, all day (and they are both in their 60's) and I do not know how they do it...but that is what they prefer. I personally, cannot physically do it, so I don't.

Princess Bubblegum

Has 8 years experience.

I try to sit down with my patients as much as possible to be on their level and facilitate meaningful communication and be present and in the moment and blah blah blah but honestly, it's because MY. FEET. HURT.

iluvivt, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience.

I rarely get to sit so I am definitely going to do it for any extended charting. You have to remember that you are human and subject to fatigue and there is a little something called, "fatigue and delay" in that as you get you more fatigued it is going to take you longer to do your work as your shift ensues. So why not try to minimize the effects of fatigue by sitting when you can,taking your breaks, keeping stress levels as low as you can and stay hydrated! Personally, I can't sit to start an IV since I am just starting one after another all day long. I raise the bed and MUST be able to position the patient in a manner that is conducive to nabbing the vein I have chosen

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

It may be that they dont really notice that they havent sat down. I know that sometimes my brain is working so much that I dont really notice that I could have sat down because in my head I am running through a to-do list and know that I have to go do something else right after I finish the thing I probably could have been sitting for. Does that make sense? I feel like I worded it strangely.

P.S. I work in pediatric CVICU....its great! But not all the patients are tiny - most CVICUs take bigger ones too, if they have a congenital defect. We had a guy in his 50s earlier this month! And his parents who were in their 80s stayed at the bedside all day. :)

Also, while it may be easier on the back, it can be hard on the brain. Not that its the only complicated specialty by any means, but it IS complicated. Its worth it though. If you have any questions or want to chat about the specialty, feel free to message me :)