Just like a person in construction needing a break from flat roofing, nurses are also entitled for breaks. However, that is not the case for most of them working in the nursing industry. This might be because of the overwhelming busy schedules which happen most of the time due to them being understaffed that makes it hard for them to even take a short meal break. Like in movies or books, we see or read that nurses are always at their nurse station chatting away with their colleagues, but that is not the case in real life. This is because, due to emergency medical reasons, nurses can work for a long shift of almost 12 hours with no breaks in between. Nurses neglect their self-care because they are more focused on caring for their patient but they need self-care too. That is why nurses need breaks.
These are the few reasons nurses need their breaks:
Better Mental Concentration
Nurses need proper mental concentration when they are at work. Doing work for an extended period of hours with no breaks in between can make them feel exhausted. This is because their mind can feel overwhelmed with caring for patients to a new admission of the emergency case and without proper rest, they can get confused with their workload, which might lead to any inconvenience for them. In addition to that, nurses can also be exhausted because of working overtime and could not even go back home. Exhaustion affects their decision-making skills and creativity, leading to work errors.
Good Physical Health
Having proper rest is vital to have healthy physical health. Lack of rest can cause a nurse to fall sick easily because of fatigues. For example, severe headache due to being swamped with work load or stress from dealing with a stubborn patient. If the nurses were to fall sick during working hours, it affects their work and they might also spread their illness to the patients. Having good physical health is vital especially now during the pandemic season because the COVID-19 virus can also be spread easily from nurses to patients if the nurses are not in good physical health to take care of themselves.
Nurses can easily be burned out because they are usually caught between their work policy and providing better care for their patient. This is because they forget that just like self-care is important too. Neglecting themselves for work can have a huge impact on their emotional well-being. This is because with a lack of rest when nurses are stressed, they might not manage their emotions properly, which means they have a lower resilience. This affects them a lot both professionally and personally. Proper meal breaks during work and taking vacation breaks occasionally, can help the nurses to build better resilience in their work.
Having a higher turnover rate from nurses can affect not only themselves but also the entire healthcare system, to it being understaffed. Nurses who did not get proper breaks might feel pressure from their work and resign from their jobs. This affects the healthcare system since they could not manage the number of healthcare cases that are piling up because of being understaffed. Not only that, with the rise in COVID-19 cases, most nurses have developed post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety which has made them worry they might get infected while at work and spread the virus to their family and friends, leading to them not getting any breaks in between to meet their social circle. This has caused a huge impact on their life. As a way to combat the virus and also spend some time with their family, some nurses have been found to resign from their work, which leads to the healthcare system being understaffed. In case they were infected, the nurses were also worried about spreading the virus from one patient to another and also to their colleagues. This is because of the messed up ratio of patients to nurses. Some nurses have left their job because they could not deal with the pressure of juggling many cases at once, especially since the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases were not showing any signs of slowing down. With a proper break schedule, the turnover rate would have been low and the healthcare system would have enough nurses to help in combating the pandemic.
To conclude, nurses need a proper break schedule to maintain their mental health and physical health. Besides lack of breaks causing a huge impact on the nurses’ personal and professional life, it also has significant repercussions in the healthcare system. There are many ways for the healthcare system to grant breaks during work and occasional vacation breaks for the nurses. This is because patient care is important and the nurses’ self-care is important as well, especially now during the pandemic season.