Do nurses get breaks on the job? Or do nurses work relentlessly for hours and hours with no lunch breaks?
Truth be told, nurses often go without breaks. I know I’ve worked 8-9 hours straight before with no time for a break. And I seem to recall at least one 12 hour shift where I basically didn’t get my break until I was about to leave (9-10 hours into it). Of course I am sure there are a lot of nurses who haven’t got a break at all on a 12 hour shift.
That isn’t the norm, however. On most days I do have enough time to at least sit down and eat my meal. Granted, it isn’t the amount of time I wish I had, but it usually suffices.
Why is this?
The reason some nurses don’t get breaks is simply because many healthcare agencies are under-staffed as it is, and the nursing shortage certainly doesn’t help. Plus, you have to account for jobs such as the emergency room, and other similar positions within nursing that can get extremely busy. In those cases, your break can result in someone dying.
Also, sometimes you get a lazy manager that doesn’t stay on top of tasks, and some employers have very poor organizational skills to allow nurses to give each other relief and take a break.
Nurses Need More Breaks
Personally, I feel that the fact that many nurse are neglected regarding their breaks and lunches is simply wrong. This is something I’d definitely like to see changed within the healthcare industry.
It is no secret that after working many hours straight with no food, your blood sugar gets low, you feel less energetic, more irritable, and you won’t be as mentally sharp as someone who has had time to sit down and eat a nutritious meal.
Would you like to be a patient, and have a nurse working on you who hasn’t had a lunch all day? Not me. Sadly, many nurses work like this far too often. There are many occupations where going without a break won’t cause that big of a deal. Nursing isn’t one of them, however.
What is even more frustrating is that labor laws usually dictate that nurses should have a certain number of lunches and breaks within a given work day (depending on the hours). As far as I know, there is no exception for nursing, and yet this law seems to be largely ignored.
I do feel blessed that the job I work at now does usually provide me with some kind of a break. But I simply wish more and more employers would get serious about making sure nurses are treated like humans and are given regular breaks to eat and rest for a few moments. With all of the laws trying to ensure safety for patients, surely making sure the employees can rest and eat should be at the top of the agenda.
Also, it is quite frustrating when CEO’s, managers, and other workers get their breaks regularly, while the nurses are working like dogs on the floor. This always frustrates me a bit.
It seems like it would be so easy for a hospital or health employer to simply provide enough staffing so that people could take a break. Even if they had to add a person to float to different floors merely for the reason of giving breaks.
I love nursing, but I guess if I could change something, this is one thing I’d change. Nurses work hard, and they deserve regular breaks. Patients deserve good nurses too, and it can be hard to be a good nurse if you haven’t eaten in 8-9 hours while working hard.