What Is Your Patient Ratio Where You Work?

Let's talk patient ratio! I was chatting with a med-surg nurse friend and we started discussing the patient ratio where she worked. I let out an audible gasp when she said it was usually around 7 or 8:1. She said her ideal ratio would be 5:1 and doable is 6:1 but at 7:1 or even 8:1 it's almost unmanageable. But somehow she finds a way.

Can you relate?! Got us thinking about other specialties in other parts of the country. We want to hear from you! What is your patient ratio where you work? Next question, what SHOULD the patient ratio be where you work? Your stories and experiences matter! Share in the comments section below and check back to see what your fellow nurses have shared.


  1. In Florida, work in Rehab that feels like Med-Surg and very often we are 6 and 7 to one nurse, 12 hour shifts. It’s burnout, much stress in the making.

  2. I work nights on a med/surg unit and our normal is 6/1. We’ve done as much as 8/1 because “everyone is asleep.” Eyeroll. On days the norm is 4/1 but sometimes they have to carry 5/1 but boy we never hear the end if it during their report. However if a patient becomes too Acute or their needs become too much, we can request that they be sent to the ICU ti recieve the care they need.

  3. I’m on an assignment in Illinois currently. Max is 6:1 here. I’m from Kansas, generally is 6, sometimes 7:1 there.

    Primary care should be no more than 4, in my opinion. Max with an aide should be 6. 6 is honestly pushing It and normally you barely get all of your stuff done in 12 hours with 6….

  4. 3 to 1 in a primary assignment (no CNA) and 4 to 1 on a team assignment (teamed up with a CNA and another RN who has 4 patients as well.

  5. What city/state are you all in? I know California has mandated ratios, but I’d be interested to know the ratios specific to location (looking to relocate 🙂).

    Med surg in CT we are 6:1

  6. I’m in pediatrics med/surg. Ours is typically 3:1, sometimes 4:1 and on a really bad day 5:1 but never for a whole shift. Kids are very needy (as well as the parents). We almost never have a PCA/STNA on the unit.

  7. If I’m on the Covid 19 side it’s 3:1 and if I’m on the regular Pulmonary Step Down side it’s 4:1-5:1. Shouldn’t be more than 4:1 on a Step Down Unit. Acuity levels aren’t high but acuity isn’t taken into consideration as long as the rooms are close together.

  8. I could do 1:4 on a tele unit and 1:2 in ICU with vents. An 8:1 ratio only gives you 90 minutes per patient in a 12 hour shift. I cannot see how you can give 10 meds in an older patient in less than 15 minutes which limits your time to 75 minutes per patient. So a good assessment can take 10 minutes. Now you have 65 minutes left and that is the time you need to chart your assessment, handle the unexplained problems that develop with a sick older population and make sure that you have met your necessary patient satisfaction rounding. Frankly they are in the hospital for skilled nursing care, they pay almost $4000 a day for the stay and they aren’t getting their moneys worth in some places.

  9. 1/24 in LTC. What? No, can’t be! Yes, have , STNA support for hands on, but regualtory-wise, I am charged with their care for 12 hr stint. STNA support only if they come in to work and though the pay rate is way above minimum, they can get better pay working at Amazon.


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