6 or 7 on days???!!! That is very high and no offense, but once hearing that on an interview I would head for the hills regardless of this economy as I wouldn't want my safety and others, not to mention license on the line. I've been an RN 6 yrs now, just turned 29. After reading several posts, I feel fortunate for the ratios of the 36-bed General Surgery and Trauma Unit I work on in Boston at a level 1 trauma center teaching hospital, been on unit 5yrs now and hospital is not unioned for RNs. Ratios on day shift are 1:3 if full staff, sometimes 1:2 if census is down during holidays which is a rare treat. If short, ratio can be 1:4 max on days. Eve shifts are 1:3 or 4 and Nights are 1:4-6 but max is 6 for any nurse and would be a "bad night." Although it's a general care unit, acuity can be extremely high in addition to dealing with entitlement and psych issues to complicate things of patients and working with demanding families. "Walkie-talkies" are far and few between now and we're more of a step down unit as I get the SICU transfers. Most general care units now have patients what would have been ICU patients 10yrs ago. We have 3 PCAs on day shift who each have 4-5 patients, 2 PCAs on eves in which they are each assigned a side on floor, and night shift is just 1 PCA. Night shift is especially heavily dependent on nurse to nurse teamwork.
When interviewing, ratios was first question I asked. My first new grad job was in a community teaching medical/surgical hospital that's unioned but acuity was no where to what I deal with now, why I left to challenge myself at a level 1 trauma center. My ratio was 1:4-5 on days and 1:5-6 max on nights as I was a day/night rotator. PCAs did all VS, finger sticks regardless of being "assigned" to patient and I never did one bed bath but was challenged with what seemed like never ending med passes, dsg changes, tasks. Now I'm day/eve rotator with no nights (yay!) and oritenting to day charge soon, yikes! I'm anxious about that even though I was thrown into charge on eves but hopefully it will be ok, it better! Having strong support helps too, like active Nurse Manager and CNS to provide support for floor needs. Good luck on your new position and I really hope that ratio will change, regardless of acuity.