I didn't burnout, I went up in a great big ball of flames...

  1. 18
    Nursing is not for the faint-of-heart, or the sensitive. This I have learned after 2+ years at the bedside.

    I started in nursing school as a second-career nurse. I had a BA in English, and had bounced around from proofreading job to menial data entry job after my separation and relocation back to my small hometown. I had friends in the medical field who pointed me towards a career in radiology. Me,being the Type A personality and finding it would take too long to get into the local radiology program, said, “Hey, why don’t I be a nurse? I like people, I like helping them. And I can get into the local ADN program faster than radiology!” So, I started my career in nursing.

    I graduated and passed my boards, but not without the added surprise of a breast cancer diagnosis two weeks before I graduated. I had to undergo chemo for months and a mastectomy, but I was finally ready and eager to be a great nurse for my patients. To advocate, to care, to nurture. I knew what it was like to be a patient, and I had added empathy for those I cared for.


    What have I found? I have had patients complain on me to admin (and their doctor) that I didn’t push their pain meds “fast” enough through their IVs. I have been bitten by an anoxic encephalopathy pt (which I didn’t mind that much) while I changed his Peg dressing. I have been witness to my supervisor being stabbed by a 400+ lb patient who was mad about not getting the sodas she wanted, when she wanted them. I have had extended family of patients become mad because I had to restrain Mom after she fell out of bed and fought us tooth and nail when we tried to calm her down (and it didn’t help when her husband came either). I have had to be witness to a male patient slugging a female tech in the jaw because he was confused and the wife requested we “dress” him before she came in in the morning. (This with the caution that she always sedates him beforehand, but if he’s spitting the meds back in your face, there’s not a lot you can do.)


    I have seen and heard a lot in my meager years of nursing.And I still have that drive to help people. But, I broke last week, and resigned my job on the spot. I couldn’t face another night in the hellhole I was in. I have never left a job without notice. But I broke.
    I honestly feel like I have more to give to nursing. I love that feeling of being one-on-one with a patient, and they know I am 100%focused on them. It’s rare, but that’s the feeling that gives me great satisfaction.

    Right now, I feel like a failure, and I am broken-hearted with my career in nursing…
    Last edit by Esme12 on Oct 2, '13 : Reason: Formatting
    Sailnskinurse, Sammie7, jtmarcy12, and 15 others like this.
  2. 36 Comments so far...

  3. 5
    Unfortunately these situations are all too common in nursing and is the reason for so much stress and burnout and high staff turnover! Bedside nursing is not for the faint of heart, heck its for the birds if you ask me! Even if you are blessed with good patient ratios and friendly supportive admin that provide sitters for confused patients all the stress and drama wears on a person! As you said you are only human so stop beating yourself up about needing a break! You are not the first or last to quit! There have been many times I felt like just walking out during a terrible shift, but my bills and family responsibilities always kept me from acting on that impulse!

    Look for another job as a clinic nurse or home health nurse. These are not as well paying but since you are not at the top of the wage scale being a newer nurse you might even get a raise. Outpatient day surgery might be a good option too. You just need a change of scenery from the bedside. I don't recommend nursing to others because we are expected to do the impossible! I think resp therapy, ultrasound tech are a better bet, but you are probably dealing with a lot of student loans already for two degrees so I wouldn't advise you to go into any more debt.
    Last edit by brandy1017 on Oct 2, '13
  4. 11
    Yes indeed, it sounds like a hellhole. Many of them in nursing.
    The additional stress of your illness and separation made it too much to handle . It's OKAY that you blew up, honest.
    Take at least one month off (finances be damned). Realize that not every nursing job is in a hellhole.

    Then get back up on the horse. Home health/psych could provide the one- on- one relationship you enjoy.
    Doing some agency work could also let you do a a little exploring .

    Good luck, glad you're out of the hellhole.
  5. 3
    I think if you are honest in interviews they will understand. Look for something other than floor nursing.
    MauraRN, imintrouble, and GrnTea like this.
  6. 3
    I think home health or Private duty nursing would be a great fit for you. Bedside nursing is not for everyone. If I didn't work on such a great post partum unit, I'm sure I would have quit the bedside a long time ago. Hang in there, you will find your place in nursing. There is room for all of us.
  7. 15
    You quit a crappy job. You didn't give up your license. I think every one of us has been in a nursing job that we wanted to run screaming out of the building at the end of our shift. I wouldn't give up on the profession.
    DawnJ, jtmarcy12, DedHedRN, and 12 others like this.
  8. 1
    Sounds as you may enjoy home health nursing. Take some time before you find something else.
    mrsmamabear2002 likes this.
  9. 2
    Well, all things considered I think you did the right thing. Sounds like there is a lot of violence at your job. I have worked in over 25 ERs and some are nice, with good security and some are hell holes where people get hurt.

    I had the first true incidence of "bad family" a couple of weeks ago and they started yelling and screaming at me the minute I walked in the door. I worked with them for a couple of hours and then told my charge nurse I had to go home sick. And she let me. Sometimes you just gotta take care of yourself first.

    I switched to ICU a couple of years ago and really love it. I am in my second ICU job. The staff I worked with in the first was horrible, mean and I dreaded going to work.

    Now I work with really sweet, dedicated people that make work a breeze. There is a place out there for you. When you start to apply for another job, just say that there were several instances of violence at the job location and that you are seeking a safer work environment. You don't want to work at a place that doesn't provide good security for staff and patients.
    mrsmamabear2002 and MauraRN like this.
  10. 2
    I agree with the others that you had a bad job, and there are better jobs out there.
    It sounds like the love of nursing is still alive in you and that after some recovery time, you will put that drive to help people to work.
    Best of luck with your burnout recovery.
    mizfradd and MauraRN like this.
  11. 12
    The way things are going It's just a matter of time before nursing gets a real bad name. Nursing is not for the faint of heart we all know that, but just because they are tough and corageous individuals it doesnt mean they don't need any help and support. What management is doing is using the capital of nurses resilience as fuel in order to keep staff low and maximaze profits, it's like eating your own arm in order to save money on food bills. How long can you eat your own arm before you ran into trouble? Not very long. Nurses are resilient but not stupid.
    Last edit by marcos9999 on Oct 2, '13


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