California Staffing Ratios

California Staffing Ratios

California Staffing Ratios have mandated safe nursing practices since 2004. We here at Wanderly stand in solidarity with California, and our travel nurses, in the fight for quality patient care.

In 2004, California became the first state to mandate nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. Since then, there has been significant discussion about what makes staffing ratios safe, whether or not the California Nursing Ratios are good enough for nurse retention and quality care, and why it is such a big deal to nurses. For some time now, nurses have felt strongly about staffing ratios, because at the end of the day, caring for more patients than you feel comfortable caring for at one time is unsafe. The underlying issue in all of nurse staffing is that we are suffering from a nationwide nursing shortage that has led to more people being sick than there are providers able to care of them. There are some other political influences as well, but that is for another day.

Here is the current situation according to the Department for Professional Employees Fact Sheet from 2011:

“The California Department of Health undertook a multiyear process to determine the minimum ratios to be mandated based upon research and other factors. California mandated the following nurse-to-patient staffing ratios:

  •       6:1 patient-to-nurse workload in psychiatry
  •       5:1 patient-to-nurse in medical-surgical units, telemetry, and oncology
  •       4:1 in pediatrics
  •       3:1 in labor and delivery
  •       2:1 in intensive care units

Here at Wanderly, we are passionate about safe staffing ratios for two reasons that matter dearly to us. First, we believe in supporting our travel nurses and elevation the profession of nursing as a whole. Second, we know how nurse-patient staffing ratios are associated with improved patient care, improved nurse outcomes, and increased nurse retention in hospitals.

We are going to be writing a series of blogs on safe staffing, California ratios, and all things travel nursing in California pertaining to these topics. We would love to hear from you!

If you are interested in having your opinion heard, please email Lauren at


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