Need help. I am so burned out!!!

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    I have been an ICU nurse (male nurse) for near 17 years. I was an ICU nurse during my time I served in the Navy and served in Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. I'm really good at I do I and I always find myself carry the load, including when I was in the military, when it comes to assignements and collateral duties. I work in a CV SICU and we always have to float to the Neuro ICUs, PCUs, and Med/Surg ICUs and it's generally constant choas where I work and there I a lot of bad medicine being practiced too. I never get help because (I'll give myself this alias) because the general response is - "J-Rod is tough and can deal with it." Essentially I feel like I'm going to work in a bomb factory. I dread going to work, it has affected my physical and mental health. I have missed a lot of work because of this dread or feeling like my teeth are going to explode. I'm now on BuSpar (for anxiety) and antidepressants and they don't seem to work. I find myself short tempered, insomnia, either not eating at all or binging, and my hair is falling out. The worst part is, i beat myself up for feeling this way. I know I'm burned out, I am a whimp, what should I do? Once I have my skills under my belt, it's hard to get out of Critical Care.
    mb55 likes this.
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    Never admit you are/were 'burned out'. Interviewers for your next position may hold that against you. It's simply: " I wanted to try something different."
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    The situation that you are in is in enough to push anyone over the edge. I hope that you put in for a vacation asap, and use that time to find some other paths that you can take, maybe a small community hospital position of some kind, or even a career change.
    One time I was in a similar mental state. I refinanced my house, resigned and had three months off. I worked one shift a week in home health and then applied to work in an eight bed ICU part time. In retrospect I wish that I had bought my own business like a Chipotle franchise or something.

    I hope that you doctor has checked your thyroid function also. This job is killing you in every way, and you have to walk away. No amount of money is worth all this. There's always agency work too.
    Good Morning, Gil likes this.
  6. 0
    I hate to hear you are in this situation, but at least you are aware that you are at a bad place in your career. My advice to you is to make a change as soon as you can, leave the unit, or the hospital for that matter. It sounds like you are constantly being put into unsafe situations, protect yourself, your license, and patients by changing lanes. With all the experience you have you should be able to get a job that fits your current needs. I wish you all the luck and success and will pray for you and your institution. Good luck and God bless!
  7. 0
    With all your experience you could transition to any other unit with no trouble. Have you considered ER. Half the time the patients aren't even sick. You already have all the important ER education you need such as drips and vents and how to code someone. Time to slow down and do something different.
  8. 0
    Go to CRNA school
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    I'm burning out a bit too and can relate to not going into work because of depression or that dread of just being there....sigh. Some of my thoughts.....I've heard PACU is a good place for a burned out ICU nurse, also I've played around with the idea of critical care transporter. With all that experience I'm sure there's something you could be utilized for, it's just tough figuring it out...I feel you! Hope it gets better.
  10. 0
    With that much ICU experience (and military,float experience), you are set to do whatever you want. Just add it to that resume You sound really stressed out. What is it about work that is stressing you out? Are people just not helping you? (i.e. when they say he can handle it with no help?). I'm sorry, but there are situations that require help regardless of level of experience. Sounds like it's your team more than it is the ICU itself that has burnt you out? I am a newer nurse to the ICU, and I am not stressed in the least (not saying I am never stressed at work, but I leave work at work, no issues....but, I also have a good team. If a patient comes in that requires a lot of my time (very critical), I know the other nurse will check BS on my DKA patient, for instance).

    Best of luck to you! Use some of that PTO, take a vacation , and then decide what you want. You could probably transfer within the system. Is it the hospital work itself that's stressing you out or the lack of teamwork? Sorry you're going through all of this!
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    I did 12 years CVICU and always believed that after that I could do anything. The problem is that you get type cast into that role, and prospective employers can hold that against you. After a short break (3 years), I'm back in the ICU, but it's only 36 hours/week and with less acuity overall. That I can tolerate and it gives me free time to pursue other interests.
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    Don't doubt yourself...look back and know that you have "come up with the goods" countless times! I only did two years of PCU and that was the first time I had worked in Citical Care. We had a great team and I felt very supported, but got burned out because the hospital policy was to understaff the unit - there it is said! I know that there is legislation with regards to patient:staff ratios for ICU's, but that should be a guideline and the staff in each unit should make the final decisions about acuity and coverage issues, not administration - Maybe you're in that situation? You know that you are one of many highly skilled nurses who is being abused by the system. When i resigned from the position, a highly skilled and experienced nurse like yourself told me that she too had been feeling like she hadnt been coping. she was known as the tough and ever capable one too!
    I see that you posted your comment in December and I sincerely hope that you have managed to move out of the job by now. I have just become a member of this website and I am also looking for a new job. I worked for a short spell of ten months since that PCU position (I also had some family issues which kept me at home). I know that the hospital where I worked previously has positions, but I feel like I already learned THAT lesson!
    Let us know what happened after you posted your comment - Please post an update - the internet is a really good way of remaining informed, including remaining informed of our colleagues wellbeing. thanks for speaking out.


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