I have been in nursing for 13 years, in positions from staff nurse to management. Based on my experiences, I can honestly say that every facility I've ever worked with has nurses dealing with occasional periods of high nurse-patient ratios. The ratios depend on so many things--patient accuity/type of care, instability of census, nursing turnover (if there are more vacancies, than there are less nurses to go around!) and care delivery method (managed care nursing vs. team-leading, etc.) Anyway, to make a long story short--when you are interviewing for potential jobs after you get out of school, make sure and ask that very important question. How the interviewer responds will tell you a lot, not just about ratios, but how that particular floor handles fluctuations in ratio. The good news??? Throughout my nursing, I have rarely run across a situation that was not manageable, at least on a temporary basis. It's overwhelming at first, but once you hunker down and start prioritizing, some semblance of order usually returns. Of course, this is not to say that frequent high nurse/patient ratios should not be addressed. Just remember that as your knowledge and skills increase, so will your ability to cope with occasional stressful periods.