Patient Nurse Ratios 7:1

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,


    I have a difficult situation and need advice. I am seeking a new job. I am a nurse working at a hospital that is overburdened, short staffed, and not standing up for patient safety. They are standing up for the almighty dollar. The patient nurse ratios are 7:1 on my floor (medical) with acuity levels too high to be safe. I have been a round or two with management over this and the result was a verbal warning. This is my question: How should I approach prospective employers when there is a good chance they will want to contact my current employer for reference purposes? How do I articulate the poor conditions at my current employer's facility without appearing negative or disgruntled? I have to leave my current employer before I am fired. Any advice would be helpful. I have been a nurse for 14 months so this hospital is my first nursing job. Thanks.

    Dear Disgruntled,

    You had me at patient-nurse ratios 7:1. I get it. This is untenable and unsafe.

    Your relationship with your manager is poor, and you are wise to leave before you are terminated. Until you land another job, keep your head down and do not make any waves.
    When you become frustrated, remind yourself that you are a short-timer.

    The good news here is you have 14 months experience. There's more good news- a future employer may contact your current employer for a reference, but they
    are unlikely to get anything more than dates of employment and job title. Most employers do not risk liability by giving a negative reference.

    In interviews NEVER say anything negative about a previous employer. Don't share that you are leaving poor conditions, unsafe patient care and an unresponsive manager-
    explain that you are seeking a new opportunity, looking forward to building on your skills, changing specialties, and so on. You are grateful for all you learned at the first position and
    ready to expand your career.


    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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