Baptism by fire...


I'm in my first block of NS, haven't even started clinicals yet. I took my CNA class (pre-req) and got licensed 15 months ago and since then have looked for some part time CNA work just so I could get some hospital experience. I pretty much gave up on finding it until about two weeks ago a company called me and asked if I wanted to work staffing at different hospitals in the area. They contract with the hospitals and provide CNA's through RN's. I thought I'd hit the jackpot, work when I want, where I want, get experience etc :lol2:

Well last night was my first night. I showed up at the hospital and reported to med/surg. Now, I haven't had any experience other than my CNA course so I was a little nervous. Now I know why. I showed up and I was the ONLY CNA assigned that night, to 30 patients!!! Luckily, one of the nurses was a sweetheart and agreed to cover one side of the floor and I was responsible for the 15 patients on the other side. Most of these people were CBR but I'm thinking 'how many people are going to have a BM during the night?' I found out. Pretty much all of them. So I ran around like a maniac, and watched the nurses do the same, and felt totally helpless and like a complete failure. Is this what nursing is going to be like?? I know if a CNA doesn't show up you pretty much have to do everything, but these nurses had up to 6 patients each, that they were dispensing meds to, starting blood on, changing sheets, placing on bedpans etc. it just seemed like there weren't enough hours in the day (or night in my case) to do all of it. It's made me start questioning my decision to become a nurse. I don't like feeling like I'm out of my element YKWIM? I don't know what to do now. I had planned on specializing in perioperative care, so I'm not dealing with bed baths or changing people all day long, but now someone told me you should have at least a year of med/surg to get your nursing skills up to par. Any advice??



Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.

Facilities use agency help because they are understaffed. Agency help is very expensive for facilities, so they are not going to staff with agency help to what their acuity suggests. They will generally still work short. When you work through agencies you can pretty much expect these kinds of situations. This does not necessarily mean that your first job will be in a hospital under those same circumstances. Why those nurses stay and work at that hospital with that kind of working condition--who knows? This shortage is one reason why agency and traveling nurse agencies flourish and the nurses working for them make more money than regular staff. Yes, med-surg floors are busy, but there is time to take a break here and there. However, in general, there is always something that needs to be done for a patient. It is also not typical for every patient to have a BM on one shift. Perioperative care is nowhere like med-surg nursing.

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