Take Your Lunch Break and Refresh Your Brain
Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, February 21, 2019 Posted in On the Job
A nurse is generally juggling multiple tasks at once. It takes focus, communication, and attention to detail to keep everything straight, and patient care depends on how well a nurse can handle this juggling act. A lunch break is a time to set everything down to recoup, but not every nurse has gotten the luxury of a lunch break in the past. Now, nurses are fighting for their right to break!
Don’t discount the benefits of breaks
Like every other part of your body, your brain can get fatigued, reducing memory, problem-solving skills, comprehension, and more. This is especially true when you are working long shifts and rushing around a hospital caring for patients. Taking even one 30-minute break during your shift can make a tremendous difference in your ability to focus and provide quality patient care.
Breaks give you time to sit down, rest, and rejuvenate in the middle of a stressful shift. This time is useful for gathering your thoughts and refocusing on the things you need to do. Without this time, you may feel scattered, anxious, and stressed — all of which can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
Taking breaks helps not only your health but also the health of your patients. Nurses rely on having great problem-solving skills, quick reactions, and excellent communication to treat patients. If you’re too tired to think straight, you could end up making a mistake that hurts the people you’re working to heal.
Important moves for nursing breaks
Despite the many benefits they provide to nurses, breaks haven’t always been as much of a priority as they are now. In most states, employers are required to give nurses lunch breaks, but some hospitals haven’t always allowed nurses to take them. More and more, nurses are standing up for their rights and making change in the industry.
Recent studies and lawsuits have shined a light on the importance of nurses taking breaks while on the job. Today, many more hospitals and health care professionals are aware of the problems and are taking steps to ensure that nurses can capitalize on their break time.
As a nurse, you need to make sure you are taking full advantage of these provided breaks to recoup. If your employer is prohibiting you from taking a break, make sure to let your staffing agency know so they can stand up for your rights.
Breaks are difficult but necessary
Even in situations where hospitals give their nurses adequate break time, some nurses choose to work through breaks. This struggle is all too common and problematic for everyone involved.
Given your love for the job and your willingness to put your patients’ needs before your own, working over your unpaid break to get more done or tend to your patients may seem noble. This is an understandable situation; however, you must understand the harm you’re causing yourself. Remember, self-care is just as important as patient care.
You’re entitled to a break: Make sure you’re exercising that right! Your health and your patients will benefit greatly from it.
About the Author
Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.