You might ask if you can start with four patients per shift. I did and they allowed me three weeks with four patients before I went up to five or six. Those extra shifts with 4 patients did help me a lot.
Our shift started at 7 PM and went until 7 AM. I got to the floor at 6:30 PM, grabbed a census sheet, and ate my dinner in the break room while I reviewed the census sheet for 15 minutes. Then I clocked in and met the dayshift nurses for shift to shift pass down from 6:45 PM until 7:15 PM.
I came up with an Excel legal-sized information sheet for my own use. On it there was room for the patient label. Then I typed in surgical floor specific information that I needed to check. I did these spreadsheets at home and printed them out on blue or green paper so the sheet stuck out. Then I stapled it to the census sheet once I got to work. You can type in whatever you need to check or remember. For example I would type in IV site: central, left a/c, right a/c, left hand, right hand etc. You can type in whatever you want. I did the same for wounds so I knew location, drains, etc. So I typed in all the possibilities and copied that in 6 different columns of the spreadsheet. Then I would circle the specific information for each patient. I hope this makes sense. Anyway, those sheets were a lifesaver for me. I referred to them when I could not chart real time and it was a great reminder of what I needed to do. You can personalize it however you want to help you organize.
I was on night shift on the surgical floor. We had shift pass downs in the patients rooms. We were expected to chart every two hours on patient safety issues. One thing that really helped was asking the dayshift nurse that was passing off to me if I could log onto the computer. Half the nurses said yes, half said no. I could do my initial charting right at the beginning of shift while I put eyes on the patient for the first time and checked IV sites and all other pertinent information required by the floor. Then I would do the same for the nurse in the morning when he or she came back on.
After meeting each patient in the shift pass down, I reviewed vital signs and labs and doctors orders for the last 24 hours.
Next I started on the head-to-toe assessments. If I could, I would also chart this in each room real time.
Then I was pretty busy until around midnight when we had to hang midnight meds and new tubing. From 1 am to 5 am I completed all my charting as I responded to call lights and other duties. At 5:30 AM I went into the med room and started preparing the morning I V’s and other meds to be passed at six or 7 AM. I also did my last charting and tried to get out of there soon after shift to shift pass down.
So that was my plan for every night. Keep in mind that plan only worked maybe one in five shifts because there was always some thing that came up. My best advice is to try to keep up with charting as much as possible! Also be nice To the staff of all the other departments you will be interfacing with. I made cookies for the pharmacy folks, the phlebotomists, and the blood folks. Then when I needed a med last minute or for the lab people to come up and do my labs first in the morning they always did.