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Switching departments... And regretting it


Here is my dilemma...

I currently work on a LTC floor at my hospital, and have been there for almost 2 years. I decided to move to the med surg floor to gain some acute care experience, and start there in 3 weeks.

However, I'm hearing horror stories about how nurses everywhere are having to be sent home for low census. I live in a very small, rural town, where this is definitely a possibility. Where I work now in LTC, I have guaranteed hours, and pay stability, and am just able to pay off all of my bills/rent with a little extra to throw into savings each week. I'm worried sick that I might end up encountering low census in med surg, and will not bring enough home to make a living.

I really wanted this job, and am prettyheartbroken over the realization that I might have to turn it down and stay in my current department (if they will even allow me to, where I've already accepted the position).

What is it like in other med surg departments right now? Are nurses seeing drastic cuts to their take home pay/hours?

Are you eligible for unemployment if you don't work your full schedule? (I work 36 hours). Are there any other nurses in this same situation right now? And feedback would be much appreciated.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

I'm only per diem, but I've been canceled for every shift since 3/20 and officially furloughed since 4/23. The med surg unit at my hospital is usually closed now. Regular med/surg staff are close to unemployed, although they do take turns floating to tele when they can be utilized there.

I think you're right to be concerned if you're dependent on your job for basics. Your hospital may not need med/surg staff now and might be happy to push back your start date. Talk to them.

I would also be on orientation until July (so I don't think they'd cut me from the schedule until I was at least on my own on the floor), so I don't know if moving my start date would really make much of a difference.

Have you asked? Communicate with HR and your new manager.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

I work in the ER and we are being flexed/re-assigned some. Not to the point of being furloughed as an ER can't close its' doors and we do still have some high acuity. From what I understand, our med surg floors, tele, stepdown floors are all fairly employed - the exception is the PRN staff whose hours are being cut (and some techs/secretaries). The ICU nurses are being kept busy enough with covid patients. But - just ask your future unit. If you are full-time, you have the least likely chance of being furloughed.


Has 18 years experience.

I used to be a Med/Surg Director in a small, rural hospital. Generally, Med/Surg units in rural areas will have times of low census during the Summer months. Most units rotate and take turns for low census days and there is always at least one nurse who volunteers to take all the low census possible. On the flip side, usually during flu season there is overtime.

All of my nurse friends working Med/Surg right now are taking large number of low census days. I know all the hospitals in my area has record low patient numbers right now and has furloughed a lot of their staff. If your budget is tight to where you can’t afford to miss a couple of shifts a pay period, it might be better to stay where you are at for a little while longer.