New grad burnt out at 6 mos?

  1. Before I start, to nursing students, please don't read this if you're going to freak out, I don't want to discourage anyone. This is my experience and I have to vent.

    I'm an older new grad, mid 40's and I started on a busy cardiac step down unit 6 months ago. I work 3, 12 hr days. I knew my job would be hard, but this has been insane. The patients are so sick and there's usually one cna for 35 patients. Most of the charge nurses get irritated by questions and there's rarely anyone available to help move heavy patients. I feel so worn out after the first 10 hours and can barely think. I start to lose my temper and cry or snap at people which is not my nature. I'm at my limit.

    I work as hard as I can, I get my work done and deliver good care, but it has been at the cost of my health. I run all day and feel stressed, overwhelmed and unsupported. For the first time in my life, I have chest pain, sob, constant back pain and stomach aches. A cardiac/pulmonary workup revealed no abnormalities, so now I know these symptoms are from stress.

    I hate to admit this, but I just can't handle this workload and the disrespect with which I'm treated on my unit. I can't try any harder. Work any smarter. My unit is notorious for having the highest turnover . . . just the same, I feel terrible and wonder what my prospects are as a new nurse.

    I wonder if this means the end of my nursing career. Has anyone else experienced this? I love nursing, but I've got to figure out how to change this situation.
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  2. 18 Comments

  3. by   allthingsbright
    Hi! I haven't graduated yet but have many friends who have gone before me into nursing and have had to walk away from their first jobs and find a different unit to work on many times in a different facility. I think you are NOT alone in your experience and you will probably hear from others who have found their first nursing jobs to be hell rather than heaven and have had to find a "better fit" for themselves. I would say get out now and find a facility that will precept you and one with better patient ratios, etc.

    Good luck to you! I graduate in Dec and hope to find the right job, but if I get into something crappy, I won't think twice about looking for something else.
  4. by   traumaRUs
    Don't worry about "freaking us out." How many patients do you have? I gather since you only have one CNA for 35 pts you are to do total care on all your patients? What are you having trouble with the most? Is it the organization of what to bring into the room for whatever you're going to do? Is it that you are uncomfortable with what the rhythms mean? Do your co-workers help each other? This is where I would start. Try to figure out the problem and fix it. You should not be so stressed that you have somatic problems. I am so sorry for you.

    Other options:

    1. Level with your nurse manager and tell her/him that this isnt' working out like you expected and ask for her assessment.

    2. Find out what other positions are available in your hospital.

    3. Enlist some other new grads for feed back as to what helped them.

    4. If all else fails, look at a different institution. Sometimes hospitals are so short-staffed that nothing will help.

    5. Breathe and relax.

    6. Try not to schedule your 3 12's in a row -since you work days working two in a row or every other one might work better.
  5. by   CaliNicuRN
    I think alot of new grads are overworked and stressed to the max. I know some of it is because we are learning so much and nothing is 2nd nature yet. We can't rely on having good habits because we are still forming them.

    I am a new grad and am on my 2nd job. I stayed for 9mos on my first unit. I loved what i was doing but started to wonder if no breaks and always working short was normal. I felt that it was going to be a long road for the unit to get staffed better, if it was to happen. I decided rather than allow myself to become more negative, to have my stress level continue to increase and to be sad, worn out and crying all the time was not worth it and it was time to move on.

    I know there are fantastic nursing jobs out there. I know there are hospitals that appreciate having good staff. I just didnt think i was ready to be nothing but a warm body.

    I guess my post didnt end up giving you much information other than to say you dont have to STAY there. There are alternatives.
  6. by   PANurseRN1
    First, I think it's a shame that you had to preface your post with a warning to prospective nurses not to read if they're going to get their feelings hurt/get discouraged, etc. You need to be able to vent and vent freely, OK? (IOW, let them take care of themselves; you worry about you.)

    Maybe another unit would be more suitable. Perhaps you bit off more than you can chew with this unit. You have some experience under your belt now, so you can use that as a bit of a bargaining chip. Is there anything that interests you in particular? I'm not sure it's time to throw in the towel.
  7. by   NurseguyFL
    Have you thought about transfering to a different unit? I don't know that you're going to find that any one type of hospital nursing is 'easier' than another, but maybe stepdown wasn't the appropriate place for you to kickoff your career?

    I'm not near there yet, but I still consider 40s to be young---too young to burn yourself out in any profession. You mentioned that the unit has a high turnover because of the high stress level and disorganization, so the problem is with the unit, not you. You have to stop what you are doing and think about your health because stress is a killer. If the job is getting to you to the point where its making you sick you definitely need to start looking at other options. Does this mean the end of your nursing career? I hope not. Some hospitals are just bad environments to work in. If I were you I would also be actively looking around for a nursing position elsewhere.
  8. by   SteveNNP
    A friend of mine was in your situation, busy floor, too many pts, not enough help. She moved to an ICU where she only gets 1-2 pts, and though they are sometimes understaffed, she can handle 2 pts on her own. Everyone needs to find their own niche in nursing. I tried the ER but couldn't handle the rapid room turnover, and crappy pts. I found my passion in NICU nursing, and while I still run like crazy for 12 hours, it's ok, because I love my job enough to keep my stress level low enough. It's hard to explain, but you'll know once you find the right unit. Good Luck!

    Stephen
  9. by   nrsang97
    Sounds like you need to go to a different unit or hospital all together. You mentioned that the unit has a high turnover rate so it sounds like the unit is the problem. I think on a unit like your working one CNA for 35 pts on a day shift is nuts. New grads have lots of questions and need to be able to have a resource person to go to without feeling like a pest. Any environment that is impacting your health is not worth staying in.

    I stuck with my first job way too long. I stayed 2 years. I also tried to bring up staffing with the nurse manager. I did say things like having to transfuse blood while having 10-11 pts each and only one aide who didn't take VS or blood sugars wasn't safe. I was told my orgainzation was the problem. I knew that wasn't true I wasn't the only one who felt that way even the experienced nurses felt that way. It was overwhelming to try to take VS on 10-11 pts and blood sugars assess and pass meds. I did try to transfer within the system but the reason I couldn't transfer was my attendence. I had so many call offs for a "mental health day" I was SOB with terrible headaches and stomach aches. I left and I finally started to feel better within months of being at my new job. My mom even noticed. I wanted a ICU position at that hospital but couldn't get in so I switched to a position at one of the systems larger hospitals and I LOVE it.

    My mom even now notices how much happier I am now that I am working where I am now. So if you are having so much trouble with the unit you are on now then I highly recommend you leave, for your sake.
  10. by   mbeahon
    I am a new grad as well, I started 3 months ago in a BUSY emergency observation unit. I typically have 8 patient on the day/evening shift, with 1 tech. for 16 patients. The leadership is absent (at best) and the turnover in the last few months has been tremendous. I am so disappointed in the nurse I am becoming. My meds are late, incontinent patients sit in their own urine way too long, the other nurses are great but have their own pts to care for. In addition, I don't feel like I am learning anything but shortcuts.
    I will go 8 hours without eating or drinking and still don't feel "caught up".
    I want to go somewhere else, to a floor or unit where I will learn more, but wonder if I should stick it out another 3 months? Will it look bad on my resume to leave a position so soon?
    I am frequently miserable at home, an emotional wreck, not myself! Should I look elsewhere or is my own inexperience the problem?
  11. by   pancake
    Thank you all so much for the support. Just knowing that others have been in the same situation is reassuring. I thought if I just kept pushing myself it would get easier, and it has, but I'm so worn out. I'm going to check out other units at my hospital. The unit I'm on has a reputation for being the toughest. It's just not a good place for a new grad, or at least not me.

    To TraumaRus, I have 4 patients, which sounds like a dream, but on this unit its tough. The unit has three wings and you can have pts on each wing, or down long corriders. The supply room is far away and the pyxis iis in the opposite direction. So one of the hard things on this unit is the constant running around. Then mulitple unstable pts on drips, constant turnover of pts, overworked nurses, and no help moving pts. The culture isn't one of teamwork, so it's each nurse for herself. Three new grads have quit and 4 experienced rns have gone out on disability since I started. I think if we had enough cna's and worked as a team it could be good but . . . that's not gonna happen.

    I love the pts on my unit, but the more I think and write about this, the more I realize that this situation is untenable for me. I'm going to look for something else.

    Again, thanks to everyone for the support, I really appreciate it.
  12. by   newnicurn
    I know how you feel. I just left a stressful unit. I worked 17 months and remeber looking for a new job as soon as I was off orientation. I have a friend who is a rn in another faclity whos in the same boat. When people describe your unit as a place you "get a lot of experience", watch out. My old unit was short staffed, we were under appreicated by staff and patients, and we worked hard for 12+ hours. I say look for another position, whether a transfer or in a new facility. Thats what I did. even though I've been in my new position for a week I fell the difference. While you are exploring your options ask those tough question that you wanted to know about your current position in interviews. Dont go from bad to worst. Schedule you days every other if needed. I did every other to recooperate from one shift and to prepare for the next. Ask to shadow an employee during the shift your applying for. See first hand
  13. by   blanchardnurse
    I feel for you. I am a new grad and have had my lpn lisence or about 6 weeks. I have been working at the hopsital I now work for about a year. I started as a tech while in school so I know a few of the other nurses and which ones I can utilize for help/info. I work as a float (which might be a viable option for you), so I get to see all the different wings at one time or another. I highly reccomend this as an option for all students/ new grads.
    Now as far as the stress goes, it depends on the unit I am on. I have been on the oncology wing for the last 6 weeks. I hated it at first, but am getting used to it as time goes by. Some of the nurses seemed a little stand offish or downright crabby so I was intimidated as to asking questions or seeking advice. I started bringing in cookies and other sweet treats (as well as my own coffee) and this has seemed to give me a little extra credibility as a useful working LPN on a floor of RN's.
    Your just have to find what you like and go there, oh yeah...I work midnights so the staff is even lighter. sometimes the patients are actually sleeping though.
    Best of luck in your endeavors.......
  14. by   sequelae
    i think almost everyone experiences what you are going through. you have to find the area that you are most suited to. im a new grad too and i got lucky that my job now as an emergency room nurse is what i ACTUALLY love coz i always thought i want to be in the ICU. it might not be immediately but you will find your preferred area soon enough.

    regarding your symptoms, have you considered talking to your superior about them? if the area youre in brings you great stress as i see it, i guess you might need a new environment. dont forget to relax coz stress will bring you donw

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