BURNOUT! and Switching Specialties

  1. Anyone have experience in switching nursing specialties? I currently am in my 10th year of SICU/Trauma nursing and have hit a brick wall. After much denial, soul searching, and frustration, I have finally admitted to myself that I am burned out and in desperate need of a change. I was thinking about doing a complete change and applying for a job in the Wellbaby/Newborn Nursery. My co-workers think that I'm nuts for "wasting" my CCRN credential and natural aptitude for ICU nursing, but I hate my current job. The low quality of patient care, lack of supervisor involvement, under-staffing, inappropriate staffing, and the stressors that go with them have invaded my psyche and infiltrated my entire life! (Just yesterday I had an agency LVN without vent or pressor experience taking care of a septic, hypotensive ventilator pt while I'm charge with a fresh open heart and another patient AND precepting a new grad who has 2 patients!) I know I need to get out of there but a few things are holding me back: I'm afraid that I will get "demoted" in the clinical ladder back to a Level 1 since I have no experience with Newborns. I cannot have worked ten years in ICU to be making new grad salary. And the second concern I have is what do I tell the manager of the Nursery when asked why I want to transfer? Is burnout an acceptable answer? I really think I need to work with healthy little ones at the start of their lives instead of seriously ill/injured adults often at the end of their lives. I need to refill my cup. Thanks for any input.
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  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    In our hospital - we don't have a well-baby nursery - the moms are expected to care for their own kids. I certainly do feel for you though. That's exactly how I described myself two months ago. I'm an ER RN and I went to case management which involves clinical practice and keeping my skills current. However, I also get to teach patients and families and its much nicer to be able to have the time you need for teaching and discharge planning. Just an idea. Good luck...
  4. by   fergus51
    I can't imagine them making you start at the bottom of the salary scale. We don't have well baby nurseries here either (just as well for me, cause I can't stand working in them!!!! who needs 6-8 screaming babies to look after?!). I am sure your icu experience would be an asset in getting you a job anywhere, and I don't see how you are "wasting" anything by doing what makes you happy. I work NICU and we have several former adult ICU nurses who have done quite well, once they unlearned the adult patho.

    I would also suggest looking at level 2 NICUs or special care nurseries. They generally involve pretty healthy prems or grower/feeders (no vents or anything super acute) and have better ratios than in a well baby nursery. Even doing an observation day at a hospital might help you decide.
  5. by   fergus51
    Oh, and personally, i wouldn't use the word burnout. I would say you are interested in trying something new, looking for new challenges, etc.
  6. by   imenid37
    Best of luck as you try new things. I made the switch to mother-bay back in 1990 after 3 years in post-OHS tele w/ many of the issues, you describe such as low quality, high-accuity pt. care situations. For the past 6 years, I have worked in a small hospital where we do everything across the OB/gyn spectrum and I love it.My time in mother-baby was well-spent learning and de-stressing a little while I had young children. Hey try it, you're worth it. You'll never know unless you take that first step! Life is too short to wish you had taken an opportunity, but missed out.
  7. by   Gompers
    I agree with Fergus. Maybe a level II NICU might be a better fit for you. Most hospitals have normal newborn nurseries, but they aren't used very much and you'd either have to have mom/baby couplets or a large number of screaming newborns under your care. All I can say is that in the few hospitals I've worked at, the turnover rate in newborn nursery is very HIGH as they are really overworked. In a level II or a special care nursery, you'd have maybe 3-6 babies, depending on their stability. Lots of NG feedings, nasal cannulas, antibiotics, etc. Anything vented will be transported out within the day.

    Any interest in going straight into NICU? Generally, the staffing is better than in adult areas, and most NICU nurses are really satisfied with their jobs. Teamwork is wonderful, and if you work in a big enough unit, you might be working with 20+ other RNs at a time! But going into a level II might work better for you, to give you a break from the high acuity but still keep you out of the craziness of the normal nursery.

    GOOD LUCK!
  8. by   fergus51
    Not to mention the fact that the parents are easier to deal with in level 2!
  9. by   Gompers
    Quote from fergus51
    Not to mention the fact that the parents are easier to deal with in level 2!
    Now you're making me consider stepping down from a Level III and going to a Level II - don't tempt me!!!

    :chuckle
  10. by   Tweety
    Good luck! I admire people who choose to make changes. I wouldn't go the burnout route either. Just say after ten years you are excited to move on the new challenges and are eager to learn.

    You come with invaluable critical thinking and skills and let them know your expectation is not a new grad salary. That's not fair at all.

    Good luck!
  11. by   Surgical Hrt RN
    I know how you feel girl!!!!!! I have been there. IT is sooooooooo draining to work like that, and management's response.....well you've done it before you can do it again!!!! But why should we have too!!! It is ridiculous!!!!! I wish you well in your change and remember......you can always go back to the ICU!!!! Sounds like you need a much deserved rest!!!
  12. by   nekhismom
    Take your time and view a NICU. You may just love the level 2. Hope you find a good fit, and give yourself time to relax soon!
  13. by   my2sons
    Thanks for all of your responses. My hospital has a Level III NICU, but I think that I'd just be swapping stresses by transferring there. The hospital closer to my house (much smaller) has a Level II Nursery. Is this the same Level II that y'all are talking about?
  14. by   zudy
    Two of my best friends, both ED nurses for 12 plus years decided to switch to well baby newborn nursery 2 years ago, and they are both so much happier. They are both great ED nurses, TNCC instructors, but they needed that change.

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