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Have you heard of a “break nurse?”

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Close to 13,000 California RNs are poised to strike on Thursday, June 10, most of them at University of California Hospitals. Representatives of the California Nurses Association say that safe staffing ratios are at center of the strike.

The state of California established minimum nurse-to-patient ratios two years ago, but staffing documentation at University of California hospitals revealed that up to one-third of shifts were short one or more RNs in each unit. The California Nurses Association is calling for dedicated break relief staffing throughout University of California hospitals, to provide adequate coverage during staff lunches and breaks.

Currently, UNC-Westwood employs break relief nurses to care for nurses’ patients when they are on their contractually negotiated breaks. The break relief nurses are not assigned a patient load at the begining of the shift; rather, they cover for nurses when the nurses are on their 15 -minute morning break and hour-long lunch break.

Does your facility provide break relief nurses? How do you cover breaks? Do you think covering co-workers’ patients constitutes a threat to patient safety?


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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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3 Responses to Have you heard of a “break nurse?”

  1. monica

    break for lunch one hour ,god I would be glad if,if I would be able to take a 15 min break in 3 years I may have had 10 30 min breaks
    I wish we could have something like this love the idea

  2. Sheryl

    Simply choose a “break buddy” first thing in the morning and break eachother throughout the day. This is what I have been doing and it’s working out great.

  3. kws87rn

    I would have loved to even have a 10 minute break when I worked-but since I am out on disability due to my numerous back injuries ON THE JOB-this would be an excellent way for me to get back to hospital nursing again-which I loved & to help fellow RN’s get their well deserved break time would make me love this position even more-SIGN ME UP!!!