Burnout after only 10 months...is that possible???

  1. I'm new to this forum and new to nursing, as well. I graduated this time last year and started working in August in tele, at one of the largest cardio hospitals in Chicago. Now, less than one year later, I'm already on job #3. At an early age, I always knew I wanted to work in health care, and I always admired the nursing profession. Now, that I'm "in" it, I just don't know anymore. I had a pt last week who annoyed the hell out of me with her numerous request for pain med; her admitting dx. was hyperglycemia..go figure?). She's a frequent flyer. She was on MSO4, 50mcg Fentanyl patch, and toradol. Finally, I got frustrated and told her, "I don't know what else to do for you???". She was on the call light every 10 minutes. I feel so used and unappreciated by the end of the day. Used by every pt., family member, MD, inconsiderate RN I last received report from, administrators, social workr d/c planner, etc. I think the new ad campaign "Dare to Care" is very befitting for this thankless, overwhelming profession. You know something...when I get sick and can no longer care for myself, I but I won't be able to get anyone to give me even a glass of water Maybe bedside nursing simply isn't for me. I would like to try public health. Any thoughts or suggestions on how to cope????
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   purplemania
    talk to your human resources person to see if there is another area to which you may transfer. You are right. Maybe you need to be somewhere else. If you are unduly anxious away from work as well, perhaps you need RX to help with anxiety. talk to MD.
  4. by   Brownms46
    First rndiva,


    I think you need a BIG OLE {[[{{{{HUG}}}}}}.

    I have to say that this is a very short time to have been thru all, that you have..but then I didn't begin my nursing in this era. Nor did I start in a large facility, as I tended to stay away from them for the most part. I found smaller hospitals...no less busy, or challening...but a little more personable.

    Here is what I did...when I realized I was burned out! I sat down, and made a list of the things I liked about nursing, and things I didn't. I listed what kinds of things made me happy, when I was dealing with people, and what didn't. I decided that home health was what I wanted to do....and I found a job in that area. I did this for 3yrs, until the agency I was working for ...went through some major changes...and I again sat down and made a list. This time I chose travel nursing. That was 10yrs ago...

    Maybe it's time for you to step back....and decide what is important to you, and what would give you the most joy in doing...
    Last edit by Brownms46 on Jun 17, '02
  5. by   prmenrs
    It does sound like you need a vacation. I think Brownms advice to VERY sound. If you can take a vacation--or aleast a long weekend--try to get out of town for it, and get some real down time. Even a couple of days would help.

    {{{{{rndiva}}}}}

    Hugs would be good, too.
  6. by   fedupnurse
    Sounds like you should take Brownms advice. I too was burned out a couple of years ago when I was on day shift. I took a part time night spot in my same unit and it did wonders. It is a very tough time to be starting in nursing but you may be right, bedside nursing may not be for you. See what else may be available in your facility and if nothing grabs your interest, go elsewhere. Life is too short to be miserable. Put yourself first and decide if you should pursue other career options, in or out of nursing.
    Good luck.
  7. by   NurseGirlKaren
    Burnout after only 10 months--entirely possible!

    Don't give up on nursing just yet. I'm sure you (like all of us) worked too hard and for too long to just give it up. There are so many arenas out there today that you can keep trying different things until something grabs you. Thanks to today's nursing market, you can do that.

    I've been an RN for 5 years--on my 4th job, but I think I've found my niche and I'm here to stay (been here one year). At my last job I was ready to hand in my resignation I was so frustrated / burned out. My manager suggested I take a leave of absence and it was the best thing I ever did (fortunately, I had been there for over a year so FMLA kicked in [anxiety per my doctor] and after I used up my personal time still got paid for a couple more weeks from disability). I got a break from work (10 weeks, most of it paid), got counseling to learn how to handle stress, got a chance to regroup, and put in a transfer for another part of the hospital and I love it!!

    Bottom line--hang in there! Like everyone else has said, LIFE'S TOO SHORT!!!!
  8. by   fergus51
    It sounds like you should talk to a counselor to me. It seems more like compassion fatigue than burnout. When a nurse gets compassion fatigue, her emotions are involved, she starts taking things personally (like feeling used) and starts to lose compassion for patients. It happens to most care givers at one time or another and it doesn't mean you are a bad nurse, it just means you need a little help shouldering the burden.
  9. by   Sleepyeyes
    "Compassion fatigue"-- interesting term, fergus
  10. by   fergus51
    I can't take credit for inventing it, but here are some websites if you want to learn more about compassion fatigue. You can even just do a google search if the links don't work

    What is Compassion
    Fatigue? There is a cost to caring. ... Compassion Fatigue is NOT "burnout". ...
    www.ace-network.com/cfspotlight.htm

    Overcoming Compassion Fatigue. When practicing medicine feels more
    like labor than a labor of love, take steps to heal the healer. ...
    www.aafp.org/fpm/20000400/39over.html

    Overcoming Compassion Fatigue. You're drained, tapped out, have little energy
    to give others. We’ve all been there. www.pspinformation.com/caregiving/ thecaregiver/compassion
  11. by   fergus51
    Overcoming Compassion Fatigue


    You're drained, tapped out, have little energy to give others. We've all been there. Usually, after a little break we revive and step back up to the plate. What happens, however, when these feelings don't pass - going beyond fatigue and turning into something much worse, like apathy? This could spell trouble for those caring for an elderly parent or sick child, or for health care professionals rendering care to others. In this interview, one of the nation's leading medical experts talks about compassion fatigue, a condition that plagues many individuals working in and out of the home. What actions can you take to prevent this serious occupational health hazard and risk to caregivers in general?



    Q: What is compassion fatigue?

    A: This term has replaced the more familiar term "burn-out." It refers to a physical, emotional and spiritual fatigue or exhaustion that takes over a person and causes a decline in his or her ability to experience joy or to feel and care for others. Compassion fatigue is a one-way street, in which individuals are giving out a great deal of energy and compassion to others over a period of time, yet aren't able to get enough back to reassure themselves that the world is a hopeful place. It's this constant outputting of compassion and caring over time that can lead to these feelings.


    Q: What causes it?

    A: Compassion fatigue comes from a variety of sources. Although it often affects those working in care-giving professions - nurses, physicians, mental health workers and clergymen - it can affect people in any kind of situation or setting where they're doing a great deal of caregiving and expending emotional and physical energy day in and day out.


    Q: Who is most at risk of developing compassion fatigue?

    A: Although those in the health care and mental health professions are most at risk of developing these feelings, it is not limited to these arenas. It affects those who don't work outside the home as severely as those who do. Take someone who is actively engaged in taking care of a family member, especially during a crisis period when there is a higher need to give out feelings of compassion and sensitivity. If the crisis doesn't pass quickly and the individual continues functioning at this level, he is just as susceptible to compassion fatigue over time as those in high-risk professions.


    Q: What are some telltale signs of compassion fatigue?

    A: First, you should understand that it's a process. It's not a matter of one day, you're living your life with a great deal of energy and enjoyment, and the next, you wake up exhausted and devoid of any energy - both physical and emotional. Compassion fatigue develops over time - taking weeks, sometimes years to surface. Basically, it's a low level, chronic clouding of caring and concern for others in your life - whether you work in or outside the home. Over time, your ability to feel and care for others becomes eroded through overuse of your skills of compassion. You also might experience an emotional blunting - whereby you react to situations differently than one would normally expect.


    Q: If you have this condition, what can you do?

    A: The most critical need is to acknowledge that you may be experiencing it. All of us have multiple demands and energy drains in our lives - some positive, some negative - which all require a great deal of emotional and physical attention. There are, however, many hands-on things you can do to mitigate the feelings of compassion fatigue. For one, start refocusing on yourself. Before you can tend to and be sensitive to the needs of others, you have to take care of your own well-being. This can be as simple as getting plenty of rest, becoming more aware of your dietary and recreational habits, and cutting out negative addictions in your life like nicotine, alcohol and caffeine. Remember, the healing process takes time, as does the development of the problem.


    Q: What if you're in a high-risk profession and the feelings don't pass? Should you quit your job, request a transfer or take an extended vacation?

    A: All of these are options depending on your situation. Sometimes people who witness a lot of trauma as part of their jobs - like law enforcement agents, paramedics and fireman - will opt to choose different lines of work. Even if they recuperate and successfully combat these feelings, they sometimes feel they don't want to begin again the process of exposing their heart and feelings day in and day out. For others, a vacation may do the trick. Vacations are healthy, restorative interventions that can head off negative feelings so that they don't progress beyond the point of no return. Transferring to another unit either temporarily or permanently is another alternative. A job that's more mechanical and less human service-oriented can sometimes give people just the respite they need to regain their balance and their empathy towards others.


    Q: Is there anyway to prevent compassion fatigue?

    A: Preventing compassion fatigue is really the key. It's much easier to stop it from occurring in the first place than it is to repair things once it sets in. You have to continually practice good emotional health maintenance along the way and maintain some sort of balance in your life. There has to be a portion of your life inn which you need to take, rather than give. Beyond practicing fundamental self-care skills, you need to put yourself in situations in which you see the positives in life, for example, attending a field trip with your child where you're truly enjoying the experience, or volunteering where you're able to give and receive. Sometimes, you can't prevent compassion fatigue from occurring. We see this a lot with individuals working in professions with a high degree of human interaction and human service. However, practicing some of these techniques can restore your ability to feel compassion for and sensitivity to the troubles and difficulties of others.


    Q: If you're in a health care profession, could you be a danger to your patients if you have compassion fatigue?

    A: Maybe yes, if you took the scenario to its extreme; however, this isn't what usually happens. What typically occurs is a numbing of feelings or a distancing and detachment from a patient and his family. It rarely results in a serious medical mistake, but rather prevents the individual from bonding and connecting with those under his care. It's akin to being on auto-pilot in which those affected put up an interior wall to separate their feelings from the tasks they need to do
  12. by   kathkrn
    I also agree with Brownms.

    #1 - you need a hug
    #2 - you need to evaluate what you consider the pros/cons of nursing to be
    #3 - seek out a mentor

    I started in a downtown Toronto hospital, on a very unique and dynamic surgical floor. We did ENT (being simple thyroidectomies to tachs/laryngectomies/full commandos), reconstructive orthopedics, osteosarcoma orthopedics, gyne, urogyne and oral surgery (TMJs). Then we also got the occassional bowel patient and the medical runoff from ER. It was the one floor where when someone asked you where you worked, other RNs gave you the sympathetic head tilt and the "oh, you poor thing" gaze. Out of 10 that started within a two month period, only myself and one other remain.

    I was fortunate to have an amazing group of nurses to work with, on of whom became a mentor to me. Perhaps that is something else to look into. I do not have sites with me at this time, but I do have some sites with great articles regarding mentorship etc.
  13. by   Love-A-Nurse
    Originally posted by Brownms46
    First rndiva,


    I think you need a BIG OLE {[[{{{{HUG}}}}}}.

    I have to say that this is a very short time to have been thru all, that you have..but then I didn't begin my nursing in this era. Nor did I start in a large facility, as I tended to stay away from them for the most part. I found smaller hospitals...no less busy, or challening...but a little more personable.

    Here is what I did...when I realized I was burned out! I sat down, and made a list of the things I liked about nursing, and things I didn't. I listed what kinds of things made me happy, when I was dealing with people, and what didn't. I decided that home health was what I wanted to do....and I found a job in that area. I did this for 3yrs, until the agency I was working for ...went through some major changes...and I again sat down and made a list. This time I chose travel nursing. That was 10yrs ago...

    Maybe it's time for you to step back....and decide what is important to you, and what would give you the most joy in doing...
    Great post, Brownie!

    To the original poster:
    It may not be burn out as much as not being "whole" in the area you are currently in.

    Let us know what you decide and as always,
    Keep The Faith!
  14. by   adrienurse
    Change is good and there are CRAPPY jobs out there that eat nurses alive. I've been there (3 jobs in 4 years). Keep faith that you will find a good match. I think this is a common problem for new nurses in this day and age. They pump you up so much in school and the real world is a big letdown because you ask yourself where is this great opportunity they told me about? I graduated in 98 and I don't know of many classmates who are still working in their first positions. Also, it's hard to find your niche.

    keep on trucking

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