Quote from ~*Stargazer*~
Still love it when I can connect with patients, when they're eager for information and I feel like I'm really helping them, but absolutely hate the menial tasks.
It's gratifying when I get an IV into a tough stick, when I can put a Foley in a poor little old man with urinary retention and watch the relief wash over him, hold the hand of a frail little old lady who doesn't remember why she's there, educate the young uninsured guy about resources in the community where he can get health and dental care cheap or possibly free, provide primary care for immigrants who may or may not be legal, because they don't know where else to go, catch something and point it out to the doc, who then changes his plan of treatment because of information that came from me, etc.
I gotta say, it kind of sounds like you actually LOVE your job, maybe even just a little bit.
You've included an entire paragraph describing the ways in which your job is rewarding--and all of the instances you describe seem to be pretty particular not just to nursing in general, but to your job specifically--in THAT ED in THAT community. The drudgery of nursing is, well, just what it is and what it always will be. If you are able to help a frail elder with their toileting and make them feel comfortable, safe, and dignified, then you are providing the same high level of excellent care that you are providing when you THINK you are using more skills. Managing pain, assisting with ADLs, these are always going to be fundamental to the care you provide, no matter what environment you're in. Sometimes people will treat you like a rag, and they won't appreciate what you do, and they will expect you to serve them or fix their TVs, and all that annoying stuff. It's unavoidable. Let it roll off you like water off a duck.
Someone mentioned being an NP, and this may be a good option for you. But they said something about not having to worry about the small stuff at that level--which, as an NP, I can say is totally not true. The best clinicians work with the whole picture--no you will not be toileting patients, bringing blankets, washing them up, etc on a regular basis--but you will do it sometimes. And that will help define you as an excellent nurse practitioner if that's the road you choose to take.
I wish you the best. You sound awesome.