Document Type

DNP - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Kay Foland


nurse stress, occupational stress, work environment for nurses, stress in critical care nurses, compassion fatigue, nursing shortage


The goal of this practice improvement project was to evaluate the impact of scheduling meal breaks for intensive care unit nurses at a Midwestern hospital. A literature review identified stress a main source for burnout and the nursing shortage. Recommendations for the creation of a healthy work environment were found and a program to schedule meal breaks was implemented over a nine week period. The Meal Break Impact Survey was utilized to gather pre and post-survey data. The following data was collected on the Meal Break Impact Survey: (a) demographics; (b) questions in Likert scale response on availability, access, beliefs, length, and conditions around meal breaks; and (c) one free text box on participants experience with meal break initiative on post-survey. Data was also collected from the hospital’s scheduling analyst on percentage of shifts that were clocked as no meal breaks received. Pre-survey completion was 41% and completed post-surveys were 39% of the intended population. Statistical significance was found with a p < 0.05 between pre and post-survey on question number 19, I am satisfied with my ability to take a meal break during work. The percentage of clocked missed meal breaks decreased from an average of clocked no meal breaks 8.25% to 4.65% during the intervention months. Significance was found in the effort to improve access to meal breaks and recommendations are to continue to encourage planning meal breaks for intensive care unit nurses.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Intensive care nursing -- Psychological aspects
Nurses -- Job stress
Rest periods


Includes bibliographical references (pages 63-66)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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