As a nurse, you are sure to experience many shifts that involve no time to eat or even to go to the bathroom. Nurses are know for putting themselves last in all things, especially work. If you have way too many of these busy days, figure out what the cause is and try these solutions to make yourself more efficient and to be able to (finally) start sneaking in bathroom breaks and meals:
Causes of Too-Busy Shifts
- Budget Cuts – Because of continuing budget cuts, many healthcare facilities have reduced support staff. Many people have no interest in providing direct patient care, which leaves more work on the nurses’ shoulders. If a lack of support staff is contributing to the busyness of your job, try to be more efficient by doing tasks for groups. Pass water to all patients before passing meds. While patients are eating, take a break for yourself. Restock supplies while patients sleep or are out for procedures.
- Completing hourly rounds – If your work has a policy that requires you to perform rounds hourly, this can take up too much of your shift if you have a large patient load. If this is the case, Ask a CNA to make hourly rounds so you can complete documentation, run errands, or take a break. The CNA can let you know if a patient needs meds or something else only you can provide. Just be sure to keep your ears open for overhead pages so you can be there if needed.
- Getting delayed while administering meds – Many times, you will be administering medication only to find out the patient needs water or a bathroom break. This can quickly eat up your time. If this happens, ask if it is an emergency. If not, page a CNA and continue with your next patient.
- Messy coworkers – If you are on shift after a nurse who leaves wet linens and towels or food trays, cleaning up can eat up your time. If this is a continuous problem, take a bin and linen cart with you when you do rounds. This will let you replace linens, take away dirty items, and throw out trash without making unnecessary trips. While doing tidying up, make sure to talk with your patient. This allows you to do an assessment on their status without them even knowing.
- Paperwork – Nurses have to document everything and there are no shortcuts for documentation. To save time, complete documentation when patients are visiting with family or when they are sleeping. You can also work on documentation while eating if you are incredibly busy.
While your career as a nurse will require you to continue putting yourself last, taking these simple steps can allow you to take needed breaks occasionally during your shift so you can perform even better than ever.