Let’s talk understaffing…just don’t say “understaffing”

Shutterstock | Anna JurkovskaShutterstock | Anna Jurkovska

Last month, an interesting article was published in The New York Times describing the frustration that many nurses know all too well: understaffing.

We’ve seen many nurses express their exasperation over this taboo topic, but we wanted to know whether management has been responding to this critical issue. So we asked you on our Scrubs Magazine Facebook page if opinions on staffing conditions were heard by hospital management—and here’s what you had to say:

“Corporate just wants $$$$. I have taken care of as many as 20+ residents on the Medicare hall. All management says is ‘we’re more than happy to help you,’ but when 5pm rolls around, guess who’s running for the door?” —Lisa M.

“No. Mid mgt. are always looking to keep their jobs, so it’s all about their political nesting and not patient care. Upper mgt. tells them to cut costs (for their fiscal end bonuses) and they obey. They cut nursing care…keeping their mid-level jobs. Results on my end: pt care drops to just standard. On the floors, it’s worse, no fault [of] the nurses. You just can’t be three places at once.” —Sandee S.

“I’ve been a nurse for 30 years, and for almost 25 years of that time I have been the only RN for 20-29 psych patients. Acuity is a joke and counts for nothing. They refuse to hire more nurses, yet the biweekly schedules are posted with up to 20 or more open shifts per unit. They just refuse to hire more nurses and make it a safe place to work…so people continually leave. Very sad!” —Janet K.

“I was forced out of my job by standing up for safe patient ratio—it was an awful experience. I’m hoping one day things will change; however, it starts with us and different legislation.” —Jennifer C.

“Nope. I have 27 pts at any given time. It’s crazy.” —Shelley M.

“I have four aides and 85 alzheimer/dementia/brain trauma every night. Some of the new nurses have admitted they never even put a catheter in when in school. Bottom line is the money. Corporations get the money and don’t care about the patient. One gal I worked with had a miscarriage at work and they wouldn’t let her go home. I need surgery and can’t stand up straight, but I get told if I call in again, I’ll get fired. Don’t tell me they care about the patient one iota.” —Corinna L.

But have hope, nurses. The responses weren’t all negative!

“My unit actually just increased the number of nurses on our grid so that we will have less patients per nurse. I feel like that is unheard of right now, so I feel very lucky!” —Erin V.

Let’s take this conversation one step further, nurses. In a perfect world, what would be the ideal nurse-to-patient ratio for you? Let us know in a comment below.

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