I have recently returned to nursing after a 7-year absence. I've been on a busy med-surg/oncology unit for 3 and a half months now, and when I first began, it was great. Of course, I was learning (still am), but when I started, WE HAD A PO MED NURSE. In other words, it was still manageable - it was still reasonable - still do-able. Now, we get there and have 10, 11 patients, with all their po meds, piggybacks to give...IVs to check or start...orders to take off...admissions....patients' families to deal with, with their constant questions...the call light...people wanting coffee...water...on and on and on!!!! I work 7p to 7a and although I love my job, I am starting to get stressed out because I feel like I'm not able to give proper care. Usually, I'm in report from 7pm to 730pm...then I come out and start on the 2100 meds....and usually at 2300, I have 2 patients out of 11 who haven't had their 2100 meds, not to mention charting, etc, and all the other things screaming to be done. I had an admission the other night at 7pm, as soon as I got there....I went into report...well it got to be 1030 or 1100pm and she still hadn't had her meds yet. The people "in charge" know that all the nurses are going nuts...their "philosophy" is that it's "better" for the po meds to be given by the nurse, since we know what's going on with them....(supposedly)...and that it increases the time spent in bedside nursing...this is alot of bull and I think it's a smokescreen for them just trying to cut the budget. I want to stay where I am; I love med-surg but I don't know if I will be able to. But I can stand anything for 6 months. After that I can transfer within the hospital. Or, I may stay put for a year, then go to agency nursing as they make more money. But I know I'm not staying. Our unit manager sympathizes but her hands are tied...she said they've told her we are definitely NOT getting a po med nurse back. God, it wouldn't cost them that much! We're always short-staffed....the last few nights, I haven't been able to getoff the floor to do anything. Forget about noting orders or doing any paperwork...and everytime you go into a patient's room with their medicine, you have to UNWRAP their water pitcher and get ice and water. We have 32 patients and only 2 med carts, which we are not supposed to take down the hall. If they would let us do that, and take along water, cups, etc, it would save alot of time. God I am getting to where I hate to go to work....because I know I'm going to be overwhelmed. We never have enough CNAs...alot of time, we have 2 for 32 patients and they end up splitting the floor. Which means I am constantly doing floorwork...and no, I don't think I'm too good to do it because I'm an RN. It's just that when I answer call lights and the phone all night, and fetch and carry, I cannot get MY WORK done. HELP!!!!!!!!!!