Home / Nursing / Day in the Life

A Day in the Life of a Medical-Surgical Nurse

Rina L., RN, Med/Surg, Foothill Regional Medical Center-Alta Hospitals

Rina L (2).jpg

How many days a week?

I work 12-hour shifts three days a week.

What attracted you to this type of nursing?

I love caring for people and learning more about them. It’s especially rewarding to see them leave healthier than when they came in

What time do you typically get up?

I get up at 6 a.m.

What time do you clock-in?

7 a.m.

How do you spend your first 30-60 minutes at work?

I check the schedule of patients and then I huddle with the night nurse so I fully understand the needs of my patients, which is typically about 5 patients. I then update the white board in each patient’s room so they know that I’m their nurse that day and what is on their schedule, such as pain medication or discharge planning.

How do you typically spend your day at work?

I round on each patient hourly and spend time with each patient discussing pain and other medication, plan of care, any updates to care plan from previous day and whether a bathroom break if needed. If the patients have family visiting, I answer questions and provide updates. All the information is then entered into the WOW (workstation on wheels). I do this outside the room so I can maintain eye contact with the patients when rounding on them.

If the patient is being discharged, I begin discharge planning with case management. This means planning for home health or equipment needs, medication and prescriptions, oxygen or rehabilitation if required and other needs. The patient is not discharged until every detail is checked off and the patient--or family members--are aware of the discharge plan. Discharge planning takes a minimum of two hours, so I try to ensure all patients are rounded on before starting discharge planning with case management.

How much time to do you spend doing patient care vs. paperwork?

I spend about 80% of my time doing patient care and 20% on paperwork.

What is the most challenging part of medical/surgical care?

The growing number of behavioral health patients is the most challenging part of nursing.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love interacting with patients and seeing them leave healthier and happier than when they came into the hospital.