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What do you think about nurses skipping breaks and lunch?

Dear Donna,

What do you think about nurses skipping breaks and lunch? It has become common practice in my workplace and I don’t think it is healthy. I’m curious about your thoughts on the subject.

Concerned About Nurses Skipping Breaks

Concerned About Nurses Skipping Breaks,

Nurses skipping breaks and mealtime is a recipe for disaster for the nurse, the patients and the institution. Nurses are not machines and our energy and stamina is not limitless even though some of us assume it is. Periodic rest and meal breaks are essential to function at our highest level — both physically and mentally. Working 12-hour shifts, which push nurses to their limits as it is, make these breaks even more critical.

Unfortunately, many nurses have developed the bad habit of working through their breaks. I am aware that many believe they don’t have time. But we always make time for those things that we deem important. We sometimes use the time issue as an excuse rather than making a commitment to actually taking those breaks.

Nurse leaders and managers must not only encourage nurses to take their breaks, but should make it mandatory except in unique situations.

The longer we continue to work at this breakneck pace without rest and food, the faster we are headed for burnout and worse. Review articles online about some essential elements of self-care to combat the effects of stress.

Since you are rightfully concerned about this issue in your workplace, do some online research on the subject and present something simple to your supervisor about the issue. Offer to present an in-service to the staff. But also make some recommendations, based on your research, on how to change the culture and the habits on your unit related to taking breaks and self-care in general. All it takes is one person to get the ball rolling to work toward positive change. You might even be saving lives of both the nurses and the patients by so doing.

Best wishes,


By | 2021-05-07T09:27:59-04:00 June 26th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

About the Author:

Donna Cardillo
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, is president of Known as The Inspiration Nurse, she is a keynote speaker, retreat and seminar leader, and author of "Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional" and "The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career." She brings more than 25 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru.

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