I work nights on Med/surg. My guess is your instructor was right and they wont hire a brand new aide, but its always possible.
Med/surg is just that, medical patients and surgical patients. Youll be doing pretty much the same thing youd be doing in a nursing home on night shift, except youll be checking vitals constantly and most of the patients will have IVs running and some will have tubes and drains attached you dont normally see in LTC. Like LTC you'll still be toileting people, recording I/O, repositioning people and cleaning them up when they are incontinent.
A lot of the medical patients come from nursing homes and taking care of them wont be much different, only theyll be weaker and more confused in most cases, and will often try to yank IVs and NG tubes and even foleys out or try to get out of bed, dragging everything attached with them. Occasionally theyll be in restraints, especially if they have an NG tube, but thats rare. usually you just have to keep an eye on them constantly.
Ambulating and repositioning orthopedic surgical patients can be a little different than other people, since there are things to keep in mind depending on if they have say hip surgery or knee surgery. Knee patients might have a CPM device hooked up at night that goes through range of motion.
The biggest difference between med/surg and long term care is the variety. LTC is the same grind shift in and shift out. Med/surg varies greatly and you will constantly have new patients.
How sick your patients are might depend on how big the hospital is. If its a smaller hospital you will probably have sicker and less stable patients much of the time, since the next step up is the ICU and patients might not qualify for that. Big hospitals have units that are more acute than med/surg and less acute than ICU, so med/surg patients are probably easier generally. Ive only worked in a small hospital so thats just a guess on my part based on patient transfers Ive done as an EMT to bigger hospitals.
One more thing. In a hospital you will probably have to be BLS certified and respond to any code blue/cardiac arrest on your floor. If you have more than one CNA or PCT they may just designate one to be the responder while the other one/s take care of patients. The nursing home we worked at CNAs did the same thing, only there almost everyone was a no code so it was almost a formality. Not that cardiac arrests on med/surg are common either, but they are a little bigger consideration than LTC.
Patient ratio varies where I work. You might have 8 patients or 18 depending on admissions and discharges.