Hospital Census: What Every Travel Nurse Should Know

Some of the most common questions we hear from Nurses looking at assignments are:

  • What type of patient population will I be dealing with?
  • What does the hospital census look like?
  • What is the nurse-to-patient ratio?

These are all important questions. Hospital census can either make an assignment pleasant and rewarding, or totally forgettable.

In this post, we discuss how patient ratios can affect your happiness and ability to complete an assignment. We also discuss how census and different types of contracts can affect your job.

Nurse to patient ratios vary. Know what you can handle

Below is a general idea of nurse-to-patient ratios by their specialty. These numbers can change depending on who you ask.

Why does this matter to you? Some assignments may have higher patient ratios than others. The more patients per Nurse, the more strenuous your shifts may be.

Some Travel Nurses can handle a heavier workload than others. Understand your comfort zone, and do your best to find out the nurse-to-patient ratios on an assignment you’re thinking of taking.

Know your limits. If you take an assignment you’re uncomfortable with, you may end up frustrated for a few months.

Some assignments don’t guarantee hours

Each facility you apply for has its own policy of handling low census.

Some contracts allow a facility to send you home only a few times during the duration of the contract. Other facilities have no limit on sending you home.

Without guaranteed hours, there’s always a risk you could spend some time not working. So be sure you know what type of contract hours an assignment is offering.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid contracts without guaranteed hours altogether. However, if you’re taking that kind of contract, you should avoid getting locked into long-term housing agreements, just in case.

Guaranteed hours contracts prevent low census problems

You can avoid low census problems completely by getting a contract with guaranteed hours. In this case, no matter how low census is at the facility, you’ll still be working.

Guaranteed hours provide you with a predictable income and security when it comes to housing. These contracts generally place much less stress on a Travel Nurse.

Trying to find the right assignment? We can help

Contact us to get started on finding your next assignment. One of our Recruiters will be able to help you find an assignment you’ll love.