It happens all the time. We get to work and the charge nurse says, "We're short…we don't have enough nurses." We think, "Oh Lawd, when will this madness stop." For some, working with ridiculous nurse patient ratios every shift is the norm or business as usual.
For those of us who aren't in states where the ratios are mandated we learn to adapt and make the best of it.
A recent poll by scrubs magazine asked the question: "What is one thing you would change about nursing?" Guess what topped the list? You got it, Nurse Patient Ratios.
It's obvious that most of us didn't go into nursing for the money. We genuinely enjoy taking care of others. But when you have too many patients it leaves us feeling spread too thin, worn out and overwhelmed.
I'm sure we've all had our fair share of "crazy shifts" so here are a few tips to make them a little more bearable:
1) Organize your brain sheet so it can work for you. There's nothing worse than realizing you forgot to hang an antibiotic or check a blood sugar. Where I work we have as many as 7-8 patients on a med surg/tele floor so organization is key. I like to have the patient's meds and times clearly visible. You can see a picture of my brain sheet below. I have a double-sided sheet and then I add more as necessary.
2) Delegate. When I first became a nurse I had the mindset that I could do it all myself…Puleeze! I now know better. A good charge nurse will periodically ask you how you are doing. If you are drowning and way behind then you need to speak up. A lot of times new nurses don't want to seem like they can't take the heat, but by all means if someone offers to help take it. I should also mention you don't have to wait until someone asks if you need help. If you are sinking ask for the lifeline.
3) Remember that nursing is a 24 hr operation. You don't have to be super nurse. When you are short staffed you can only do so much. Sometimes that care plan or dressing change may not get done on your shift. Don't be afraid to pass it on!
It's important that we be team players. I know that's not the case with all nurses but for the most part I think as a whole our profession looks out for each other.
I am a float nurse and even though the nurses I work with may not see me everyday I know that they have my back and they know I have theirs.
I would love to hear your feedback! Please comment below
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Tasha Nelson is a registered nurse who works the night shift at a large midwest hospital. She is also a total wellness enthusiast who firmly believes in the importance of taking care of yourself. A healthy mind, body, and spirit makes for a happy person. Isn't that what we all want?