Time for a little truth (as I see it). Med/surg is the heart of the hospital, as well as the heart of hospital nursing. I remember from nursing school how much I learned from the med/surg floor. I learned about pathophysiology, as well as the impact of pathophys on the person. I learned about interacting with patients, family members, co-workers, and administration. I learned what it was to really connect with a patient. All from med/surg, and some of the great med/surg nurses who taught me to be a nurse.
That said, I also learned what it was to be seen as the dumping ground. For the first time, I ran into the physician with the "just a nurse" attitude. Med/surg is the place the hospital looks when profits aren't as high as they like. "There's no reason one nurse can't take care of one or two more patients per shift. Its not that much of a bigger load. And God knows they don't need as much in the way of equipment and supplies as the nurses in the ICU's." That attitude rapidly spirals out of control. I remember as a student nurse, I worked part time on an oncology-med/surg floor (how's that for a combination?). One night, as I was getting off at 11 pm, we only had two nurses coming in for the night. The floor had 41 patients, including three that were receiving blood, two who had returned from the recovery room in the last hour, and three that were actively having chemo infused at that time. Both arriving nurses were unhappy with the situation, both were very concerned about patient safety, and both said the same thing. "We've been here before. No sense complaining to anyone about it, no one will do anything to help. Administration has told us before 'don't worry about it, you're on third shift, they'll all be sleeping anyway'." The med/surg nurse is terrific, but the med/surg floor is the dumping ground for the hospital, and a prime example of everything wrong with nursing today.
As I left that night, I promised myself several things: First, I had to protect patients above all else, as well as my nursing license (when I got it). I would have a limit to the number of patients I would take, and come hell or high water, I was sticking to that number. If I found myself in a similar situation, I was going to refuse to take report until someone somewhere did something to correct the problem. I would never be a floor mat for anyone looking to cut a few dollars from the expenditures budget. And finally, I'd get a job at McDonalds flipping burgers before I ever worked on a med/surg floor. I've kept those promises, and my sanity.
I love those nurses, and this is one ex-ICU nurse saying saying they all have my highest respect. I could never do that without killing someone (generally, an administrator).