Can I get some help here?

Today was my first med-surg clinical of the semester and I am exhausted. The unit which I was working in with two other nursing students had 17 patients, 2 nurses, and one CNA.  I guess this is the staffing norm day to day on this floor.
I was just in shock!

There were about 3 patients who were fall risks and constantly getting out of bed, about 4 patients who had to get up constantly because of laxatives, and every other patient you could imagine.  The staff was overwhelmed to say the least!!  I thought the CNA was going to have a break down at any moment, and myself and the two other students were doing everything we could to help out!

My question is this; how do we practice safe nursing skills in an environment that is not safe for practice?  Understaffing is a big problem in healthcare facilities and majorly contributes to the burn-out factor.  In addition, I can’t imagine how many mistakes must be happening because of understaffing, fatigue, and errors on the unit.

My thoughts today were,  ” Thank god myself or my loved one is not here!”  That is a horrible feeling.  This economy is suffering a great deal at this time.  Unfortunately, the health care field is not immune to what is happening with the recession at this time.  How can we afford to compromise patient care at a time like this….or any time for that matter?

What can we as patient advocates do to help better the situation? I just don’t know the answer and I feel saddened that these patients are being neglected because of staff shortages and a stinky economy.  What can I do as a student nurse?  Will it be like this forever?  Will I have to worry about unavoidable mistakes because of larger than manageable patient loads?  These are just some of the questions that cross my mind today as I witnessed these things first hand.  Please leave your feedback!

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