3 Things Nurses REALLY want

Nurses don’t want a new cafeteria or the façade of the building remodeled. They don’t want to see an award touting how great the facility is in a state of the art display case.

They don’t want to see new carpeting on the units, and they don’t want to see new nurses stations put in because the older ones were “ugly.” What do nurses really want?

It is simple: they want an environment in which they can care for their patients with the least amount of stress. Facilities seem to put the money into things that are cosmetic or that make the place look good to outsiders.

Why don’t they put the money into the things that really matter to nurses and to patients? Why don’t they focus on these three things that would help nurses do their jobs with the minimum amount of burnout?

Safe Staffing Ratios

Hire more nurses. Yes, it can be that easy. If you don’t want to hire more nurses, then hire some nurse’s aides. The ratios asked of some nurses are deplorable.

In addition, it is unsafe to work in conditions where you have 8-10 patients on an acute care floor. It is even worse in rehabilitation and long term care facilities.

When there are call offs, there should be people to take up the slack, such as agency nurses. Yes, they cost more, but this is the safety of the patients that we are really talking about.

Nurses want ratios that make sense, that make it safe to do their jobs, and do not burn them out. That’s probably the number one thing that nurses really want.


Nurses want breaks. They want time to go to the bathroom, get something to eat, and get away from their patients for a few minutes.

Why is it so difficult to understand that nurses want to have the same “perks” as any other worker in any other profession? Now some facilities are forcing nurses to take breaks but giving them more work to do.

The breaks problem really extends from the ratio problem. If there was more help, if the nurse had fewer patients, then they would be able to take care of their bodily needs.

Forcing nurses to take breaks when it is impossible is not what nurses want. It only makes the situation more complex and puts more stress on the nurse.

Time Off

When nurses work 12 hour shifts, they get four days off per week, but this can be misleading. Those days are often scattered, usually with swing shifts thrown in for good measure.

Time off from work is necessary for the nurse to unwind, to see their family, and to be something other than a nurse for a little while. Maybe time off isn’t something that a facility can give, but it is something they should work toward.

Vacation time should be given freely to nurses. Although it is considered a benefit, nurses need more of this benefit if they hope to survive.

Getting called on their days off doesn’t help, either. We understand the floor is short staffed, but we need our time.

This is what nurses really want. They want to be safe from burnout, they want to take breaks, and they want to get away. In the end, is this really so much to ask?

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