This is a question where you can open up and be honest with your past experiences and what you feel comfortable working with. Each facility/unit/department has different patients with different acuity levels, so the exact number of patients can vary from department to department. This is a good time to emphasize how you keep yourself organized in your work and let the interviewer know that you can take on any workload that comes your way.
"During my career as a nurse, I have found out that the number of patients that I'm comfortable handling is relative to the unit that I'm working on. In a highly acute ICU, I've worked with as a high as 8 patients on a shift and felt this was overwhelming. On a Med/Surg unit, 8 patients on a unit that I'm responsible for is low. No matter the unit that I work on, I have a great method in place for prioritizing the needs of my patients and make sure that all of my patient's needs are met in a timely manner."
"This is a really good question, and it really depends on the situation and the acuity of the patients that I am caring for. However, for the position that I am applying for at your organization, where I would be caring for hospitalized geriatric patients, I would say my capacity would be ten patients, give or take, depending on patient acuity. I feel that one of my strongest skill sets is assessing the patients I am caring for and measuring my capacity, and when I do this if I feel that I am becoming overloaded, I will communicate this to the charge nurse so they can help redistribute or offer help of a CNA. I would not ask for help unless it was absolutely needed, and I only do so when I feel like I cannot properly care for patients who are in my care."
"Going into my first job, I have put a lot of thought into this question without having direct experience. Through my clinical rotations during nursing school, I never had a unit with patients to myself as I was always working with a preceptor. In a Family Practice clinic, seeing around three patients per hour, or between 20-25 per day, seemed very manageable in the way I watched her manage the day. For myself, handling a large patient load for a day will come down to my organizational skills and ability to prioritize needs in a timely manner."
"As an emergency nurse for many years, I was able to successfully manage the shifts where we were bombarded with patients. On these days, we often saw over 60 patients on a 10 hour shift and I was comfortable on those days due to my ability to stay organized and prioritize what needed to be done first. "
"As a nursing student, the most patients I have been responsible for assessing and administering medications have been two. Since I haven't had the opportunity to experience a typical workload of what I assume to be four patients, I would say that my capacity to care for patients safely is currently two patients. As I move through the Versant program, I am sure my confidence and ability will continue to increase as well as the number of patients I feel I can handle as my workload."
Very well said! It's good that you are cautious and say that you can comfortably take on two patients; rather than putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.
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"On these days, we often saw over 20 patients on an 8-hour shift, and I was comfortable on those days due to my ability to stay organized and prioritize what needed to be done first.
As an emergency nurse for many years, I was able to successfully manage the shifts where we were bombarded with patients."
Great answer! The interviewer will appreciate that you’ve shared a specific number of patients within a timeframe and that you can handle an even larger workload by staying organized. I reworded slightly for clarity.
"These days, we often see over 20 patients in an 8-hour shift. I am comfortable with seeing this number of patients due to my ability to stay organized and prioritize what needs to be done first. As an emergency nurse for many years, I have successfully managed shifts with a surge in patients."
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