My ward is Acute Medical Respiratory. Due to the critical nature of most of our patients Our standard compliment is Four trained Nurses and Three healthcare assistants.
One shift recently there were two trained and one healthcare assistant(and myself but i'm 'supernumerary'). The ward sister got so pissed off with the EMAU sending us critical patients with our limited staff level and no warning that she locked the doors to the ward. The next morning there was only one trained on. These shifts were hell, I was doing things a student nurse shouldnt be doing without supervision. However we got through the shifts with no problems and I realised I always feel closer to my colleagues when we are massively understaffed. The nurse I worked with both shifts was wonderful, we communicated volumes through a simple glance at each other, I knew what she was going to need before she needed it and she knew what I was thinking. Its a level of teamwork I have not experienced in some time.
Sometimes in this job its the people you are working with that makes it worth doing.