Nurses’ wellbeing during the shift – caring for ourselves

Miss Catherine (*Cathy) Smith1

1THS – North West, Burnie, Australia


During any work day, nurses’ focus is on the wellbeing of others.  Busy shifts with unexpected emergency responses can result in nurses being unable to take planned meal and / or bathroom breaks.

Recent nursing publications internationally are raising that nurses need to care for themselves known as self-care. The literature notes that whilst there are occasions where nurses may miss a break, due to staff shortages missing breaks can become a regular occurrence with risks of staff becoming sick, burnout and wishing to leave. Health issues can result from lack of planned breaks such as dehydration, physical exhaustion, to longer term issues such as bladder conditions and mental exhaustion.

The United Kingdom’s Royal College of Nursing has initiated a campaign titled the 3Rs – Rest, Rehydrate and Refuel with a range of resources to encourage Nurses to self-care.

The Pathway to Excellence Program® includes a standard on Nurses’ Wellbeing, with criteria supporting nurses implementing new ways to improve wellbeing during work time.

As the Tasmanian Health Service is committed to Pathway to Excellence Program® Certification, there is an opportunity for nurses to review current issues to self-care.

A locally developed campaign is suggested. An anagram for consideration is – MY BREAK = M – make time; Y – you need it, B – bathroom break, R – rest up, E – eat and drink, A – away from “the floor” and K – kindness to yourself

We need to support and ensure we care for ourselves and each other.

Reference list & Bibliography:

Foster, S (2019) Self -care is a vital part of safe care, British Journal of Nursing (BJN), vol 28, no. 4, p. 269.

RCN (2019) Rest, Rehydrate, Refuel – A resource to improve the working environments for nursing staff, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) UK.   * sourced 4/4/19.

ANCC (2018) PATHWAY TO EXCELLENCE® – PRACTICE STANDARDS AND ELEMENTS OF PERFORMANCE- 2016 Application Mini Manual, American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), USA.


Cathy is a Project Nurse supporting the Executive Director of Nursing and Nursing Division to progress quality improvement initiatives across the THS– North West. Her most important nursing insights have been when caring for family members, resulting in her interest in preferred place at end of life and person-centred care.