Much of what you had to say resonated with me. Although, I work med/tele now, not ICU.
The upside of nursing is that you do have options. You could essentially change your career while still staying in nursing. Have you worked on any other floors in your facility? Maybe you should look at non traditional nursing positions. I know acute care tends to pay better, but it is also very stressful. Maybe a non hospital based position would be more to your liking? While you have the security of your current job, now would be a perfect time to job shadow and interview nurses in other areas.
I am in a similar problem with burnout. The difference is, my coworkers are supportive, hardworking & great! The problem: they are all leaving in droves due to inadequate staffing, high turnover, overtime, etc. I've only been an RN 4 years. Already I am so crispy. And like you, I am a hard working, professional and caring person. I so wanted to help people (still do), but nursing is eating me alive. I have nightmares, insomnia, periods of depression, stomach aches. I am lucky enough to have floated to other floors and sample different units. But I am feeling bitter right now and I feel like (at least where I work) the same BS problems are on every unit.
I can't seem to reconcile excellent nursing care and also taking care of myself. It is nearly impossible to complete my day and fit in a 30 min break. I take my 15 min break for lunch (sometimes not) but always am overtime because there is NEVER EVER enough staff to answer the 2,000 call lights that all seem to be blazing 24/7. We work short all the time & my assignment under protests forms (union job) don't seem to make a dent.
What makes me so darned angry is that my hospital hires travler RNs at the rate of $40/hr, when for that price, we could hire more permanent staff and change our stupid matrix...and prevent nurses like myself from burning out. It is so plain to me that the shortage of nurses is based on the horrible working conditions. If it was halfway decent to work as an RN, we wouldn't have such high turnover.Nobody cares about RETENTION. We never staff by acuity, and we SHOULD. There just needs to be more staff, and that's what it boils down to for me.
I pinned my hopes on AB394 (nurse patient ratio) changing things for us here in CA, but I am tired of waiting! I'm always going to be a "nurse" in my heart, but for now I am planning a career change.I'm staying in nursing for now, while I plan to go back to school next spring. I will keep my license current, though.
You sound like a wonderful nurse, and good person. I hope you can find a place where you feel glad to go to work each day!
Maybe someone can suggest areas of nursing that they love, that you might like as well? I know a few RNs working in clinics (less pay though) who seem pretty happy. There are some good positions out there, you just need to do a little research & investigating. Remember- keep an open mind, as nursing has many options!