bedside nursing, is it really that bad?

  1. 27
    So I have been reading a lot about nurses hating bedside nursing lately. I know that at some point in my career as a bedside nurse I really wanted to throw in the towel. That is why I went and got my FNP. I still have my bedside nurse job and let me tell you that I have focused so much energy in trying to leave the bedside, I figured out that it is not really that bad. I have done teaching, Clinic NP, and bedside nursing. Now I liked the teaching but my job never ended at the end of the day. It was not physical but it seemed to be less freeing. I had to teach students and grade their work and a lot of times I didn't get paid for any extra time I put into researching for the kids. Any extra time I did was not paid. I also dealt with students who where unappreciative Just like unappreciative patients, but the thing was, at least the patient was sick and demanding, the student was not sick and demanding. In my head that makes a difference at least. I still work as a clinic NP and floor nurse both part time, the clinic NP is a nice job yes, but it is like being a doctor you give prescriptions and do assessments. If there is an emergency you call 911 or an ambulance and that's it. As a clinic NP I it can be satisfying although we still have to deal with demanding people. Here too my work does not end at the end of the day. I have to do chart reviews and things of that nature when im not seeing patients.
    My point is that as a floor nurse I have so much support from my other floor nurses. We see emergencies call doctors, we call the shots most of the time on the floor. We bath patients and make them feel good. We feed the old person who can't feed them selves. Dressing changes, wound vacs, Traumas, there is a lot of variety .
    Sorry for the long rant but I have focused so much time and energy into getting all the way to the top of the nursing food chain, that in reality, I still feel more at home on the floor. I like ranting and grumbling about bad patients/doctors, I like to talk about how hard management is treating us. I like to make fun of the silly things that happen on the floor. I miss being part of a team. I love being the person that the new grad comes to to start an IV. Love spoon feeding that patient untill there food is all gone. Love shaving the long beard of the homeless man, who now looks 25 years younger.
    I still work on the floor but not as often and sometimes I think that I wasted so much time looking for something better, when in reality it was in from of my face. (lets not mention all the days I can get off in between 12 hours shifts) I can literally take a vacation every month if I wanted to. I know it really depends on where you work, some floors are an absolute nightmare to work on, but if you find the right floor and the right staff, you will never regret being a floor nurse. If you heart is in it, floor nursing might be right for you. Please don't disregard floor nursing as the entry level, "that's the only job you could find" kind of job, its not that at all. I have a masters FNP and still love the floor.
    LTCNS, NelleG, Hope2bPicuRN, and 24 others like this.
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  3. 29 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    Excellent points. I am a new grad working as a floor nurse on a specialized med/surg unit. I find floor nursing exhausting, demanding, sometimes thankless, and extremely rewarding. It's great to hear the perspective of someone who has experienced the "greener grass" for which we think we should be striving as nurses.
  5. 3
    Awesome post. The grass ain't always greener on the other side of the fence. I love being done when I clock out. In my previous corporate career, I was never truly away from work. My company cell could and did ring at any time, night, weekend, holiday, it didn't matter.
    Tinker88, weirdscience, and 1feistymama like this.
  6. 8
    I love the wild ride of nursing; not everyone is cut out for it, and there are plenty of careers that one can make a decent wage.

    A TON of us love the same things you profess OP, including myself. All of those things have not cause me to burn out EVER in my career...I may have toed the line, but it did not ever occur for me to throw in the towel. I plan on being a NP someday, but that's my "semi-retirement plan," lol. I got too much love for floor nursing.

    As for the ones who do not like it, flame me if you must, but PLEASE for the sake of others who really want to be a floor nurse, move on to something else and make room for others who have love for the floor!
    LTCNS, Tinker88, HouTx, and 5 others like this.
  7. 4
    Agree wholeheartedly! Been at this for 17 years, and I'm amazed to see such dissatisfaction across this board. I have fun, my pts are usually laughing, feel bad for all those folks that are hating it. Sadly management is very poor across the country as the dollar is the bottom line, they would save money if the load on the floor nurse was less and the nurse was free to really be with the pts, not to mention satisfaction, strange that with all their degrees they cant figure out this simple fact!
    LTCNS, HouTx, elprup, and 1 other like this.
  8. 6
    Thank you for sharing your perspective. Enterring the nursing field as a 2nd career, I'm coming into this thinking floor nursing is all butterflies and rainbows. OKAY, not quite.

    One comment I've read on this site over and over and heard repeated in person by folks in the profession is "if you don't like your job, switch floors/units". Apparently they all differ significantly. It's comforting to know that if you don't find your niche in one place, there are many opportunities to pursue if you look for them.

    The trick is, one must stop bit**ing long enough to take a look around.
  9. 2
    I have been the nurse that tried different units. I have never found a floor that I enjoy working on. I am one of the people getting out of floor nursing. I am finishing up year 1 of my 3 year BSN to DNP program. I do not plan on ever returning to the floor so by all means any new grads interested in oncology line up!
    grandpaj and goalienrse like this.
  10. 7
    It's pretty bad, yes. The gift of reflection is that in the future things never seem as bad as they are in the present. Generally, we forget the bad and remember the good - in the future. In the present, we focus on the bad and overlook the good.

    If a rare person finds enjoyment in floor/bedside nursing then they'll have everlasting fulfillment. Kudos to them because it's the worst thing I've ever done (and I've done a lot).
    anotherone, Shiner50, joanna73, and 4 others like this.
  11. 1
    Quote from 1feistymama
    The trick is, one must stop bit**ing long enough to take a look around.
    Bravo!
    HouTx likes this.
  12. 1
    I agree with the writer on the “great” side of bedside nursing, and its rewarding nature. However, I am also sympathetic to those who struggle with bedside nursing, may be because I am one of them! I have been at it for 20 years, licensed and worked in 4 countries on 2 continents. I felt from early on in my training that although I did enjoy many of my clinicals and nursing courses, much of hospital nursing did not appeal to me. I have tried to fall in love with the bedside for many years, but it just isn’t happening for me. Continually piling expectations, apparent lack of understanding by management and heavy workloads are additional frustrations. But please do not expect me to just run… like everyone else, I have invested time, money and effort, and I am a pretty good nurse too.

    Now, I have great admiration for those of you who have found their niche on the hospital floors- there is nothing satisfying even to me than to see a nurse who not only is good at what they do, but is also passionate about it!

    I stand corrected, but my experience with many great nurses is that they often misunderstand those of their colleagues who struggle with floor nursing. We the “black sheep” find it hard to express our true feelings in the presence of our colleagues, for fear of being dismissed as malingerers who need to just get the # out of the profession. I find this very contrary to what nursing stands for- compassion. The phrase “I hate nursing” could just be a cry for help, to be understood and supported.

    For those like me who really feel differently about floor nursing, it might be that you are inclined to some trait that bedside nursing generally tends to lack to some extent, such as autonomy, innovation or other such challenges. The great thing about nursing is that it provides a huge variety of specialties, some of them offering opportunity to exercise more of these characteristics than say, med/surgical nursing. You may also want to look outside the box- run your own health related business, be a freelance speaker/writer, academics, clinical or community research, Start own health related non-profit, medical sales/ marketing, the list is endless. Do not let anyone intimidate you out of “nursing”, you can always be a “nurse” and utilize your people skills, time management and priority setting skills etc far away from the hospital bed. Many of these may require only minimal short, non academic courses or community seminars or enquiries from community resources. Be pro- active and venture out there. You can also take a more moderate approach and work part time as you take up another non-hospital career, such as teaching or NP.

    But most importantly, you need to relax more and don’t let your dislike for bedside nursing cloud your much needed clarity of mind to re-assess yourself and consider the options. You may also find coping at the bedside easier while you figure out which way to steer your career if you are more relaxed & focused on the "joys" rather than the crappy moments. This isn't easy, I know, I live it day to day, but it helps. Many new nurses end up delving into more and more degrees just to discover they don’t like them either, and end up where they started. Each person is different, one may only need a specialty change, another may need a more drastic change; if you are older or have invested much time already, I would stay "close to home" where pre-existing skills may be useful rather than start a completely new career.
    I would have liked to share my own interesting journey “searching for me” in my career, but this is already too long!

    Finally, students and those aspiring to jump in, nursing is a great career with many possibilities, so almost everyone may find their niche. Do not be discouraged by the ugly realties, you may be the one to change nursing for the better!!
    Tinker88 likes this.


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