Thinking about jumping ship, need perspective

  1. I just don't want to do this anymore. I've been an RN for almost three years, have had three jobs, and feel like this work is slowly poisoning my life. It sucks, because I enjoy my patients and like helping people, and I've made a good living doing this; but every day I'm just filled with so much worry and fear. I'm afraid of what I still don't know and how it could harm someone, and I'm afraid of myself or a coworker being hurt and not preventing it (I'm on a med-psych floor currently). And I hate to say it, but I'm kind of bored. For me, a good shift is now all about getting my patients to sleep; I like talking to them and even helping with ADLs, but am so disinterested in the rest of this. Within three months of taking this job, not even out of orientation for a month, I had to start taking SSRIs and going to therapy and turn my life upside down just to be able to cope. I get sick more, I'm depressed and anxious, and even my off-time isn't refreshing now because I know I have to go back.

    I guess these feelings are common for newer nurses, but I've been contemplating changing careers for several months now. I wouldn't want fear by itself to drive me out of this work, but I have always wanted to get my Masters in Counseling Psychology. I was very close to doing so five or six years ago but ended up in nursing school instead; it was less expensive, faster, my idiot boyfriend at the time respected it more...I have something else I would like to move toward, which is why I really want to do this.

    The thing is, I just started a BSN program because I agreed to it when I started this job. I'm two classes in so far. I don't mind the program, and I can see the benefit in it in case I ever NEED to work as a nurse again. I can't start the Masters program I'm looking at until next fall anyway, and if I don't take breaks, I can finish my BSN by then. Part of me says to just do it, but part of me resents the idea of spending so much time and effort on something I don't want to use. (Work is paying for up to $5,000/year, which I will run through by this summer, so I'll be paying at least about a third of tuition, plus books.) I know what I want to do, but I'm so mixed up that I don't know what I SHOULD do.

    Tl;dr I'm seriously considering getting a different degree and quitting nursing, but I've done two classes of a BSN program and don't know if I should just finish it just in case.
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   calivianya
    TL;DR - I think you should finish your BSN.

    There are so many more doors a BSN opens up for you that would allow you to find something you might like. The thing about counseling psychology is I think it's not going to be that different from being a bedside RN, with regards to the things that make you anxious. What if one of your suicidal patients kills himself? Would you worry that your CBT wasn't good enough, or you took the wrong approach? Would you worry there was something you didn't know that contributed directly to his death?

    If what you're really worried about is hurting a patient, you can do that as a counseling psychologist, too - so I'm not sure that would alleviate your anxiety. You know yourself better than I do, though, so I could be completely off base here.

    There are nursing positions where you don't have to directly interact with patients and worry if you're going to hurt them. Working somewhere as charge (that has free charges), working as team leader/unit leader, working as a nurse educator, working as a CNS... those are things that aren't based on direct patient care where you wouldn't have to worry about hurting someone. Most places like for you to have at least a bachelor's for those positions, if not an outright master's - and you're going to need your bachelor's to get a master's.
  4. by   cleback
    You said you've held three jobs now... what were they? Did they all make you feel this way? Were there aspects in them that you liked? You know yourself best, but as the previous poster pointed out, counseling psychology isn't without liability either.

    I would still get your BSN, though, as it will make you more marketable for different nursing positions if you stick with nursing and will provide you with a bachelors if you decide to pursue a masters in something else.

    I have to ask... Do you work nights, by chance? Do you feel like you're getting adequate sleep? (That can always make depression and anxiety worse, as you know!)
  5. by   dirtyhippiegirl
    I'd go for the BSN and maybe try to get into something like case management, which sounds like it might scratch your helping itch without piling on the student debt. Counselors make crap money, generally, and turnover is pretty high in facilities etc.
  6. by   pro-student
    If you know what you want to do and it makes sense, I think that's what you SHOULD do. Three years and three different positions sounds like you made a valiant effort to make things work. If nursing just isn't for you, nothing wrong with that. If building longer term working relationships with patients is your thing and you really want to go for counseling psych, there's no shame it pursing your dream. Personally, I would stick out the BSN just to keep your options open and since it likely wouldn't interfere with your graduate program. I know it can seem agonizing in the short term but try to keep your eye on the big picture. Spend you time trying to hone your therapeutic communication skills (it will give you a huge leg up in grad school), keep you head down, and power through. You can do this and you don't beat yourself up over making a career change, it sounds like it will be for the better. Best of luck!
  7. by   NightNerd
    Calivianya - You're right, I hadn't thought about counseling in that respect. My gut feeling is that I am much more confident in my ability to assess the "unseen" as opposed to certain physical assessment findings. (Obviously I've worked my tail off to make sure I'm learning all I can so I don't miss something crucial, but it doesn't come naturally and I'm so sick of it.) I will definitely think about how counseling might be similar to floor nursing in that respect. I'll also consider some of the alternatives you mentioned, though me as an educator seems like the blind leading the blind.

    Cleback, I've done inpatient psych, inpatient hospice, and med-surg/tele. I enjoyed certain aspects of psych, and I really liked a lot of hospice - mostly the parts where I got to talk to patients and families and coach them through a tough situation. Right now I just feel like a pill dispenser, though. And yep, I do work nights! I've considered moving to days in case that would help, but I really like my coworkers on nights and that shift differential. I do make sure I get enough sleep and some sunshine at least a few times a week.

    Dirtyhippiegirl, I've thought about trying case management after I get my year in at this job. It does sound like something more my speed.

    Pro-student, lol, THAT'S what I was hoping to hear! That's exactly it, I want to work with people long-term and I really love talking to my patients and equipping them with tools to manage themselves. I just feel like I've wanted to do this since high school and may very well regret it if I don't try it at some point.

    Thank you all for your thoughts. I'm hearing a consensus that I should at least stick out the BSN, and maybe try something non-bedside. You've given me a lot to reflect on.
  8. by   AJJKRN
    Just keep in mind as other posters have pointed out...you've had three jobs in three years so you have not ever had enough time in each specialty to feel more confident and less like a new grad.

    That BSN may prove handy, especially as far as paychecks go. If you leave your job now, all of your tuition assistance will either be gone as an option or you will be paying back in full asap! (Or whatever your contract for tuition assistance said)
  9. by   Been there,done that
    Time to rethink. You have 3 years of RN experience. That opens many doors for you.
    You don't need higher education or anti-depressants.

    You need to market yourself. I have a ASN. I work for an insurance company.. sitting on my assets at home. I make 100K / year. You can too.

    Best wishes, you can do this.
  10. by   caliotter3
    Not all employers pay for their nurses to get a BSN. Make a pact with yourself to stick around long enough to get the degree. At the same time deal with your health to the point that you are satisfied that health issues are not clouding your viewpoint. When your health is together, start exploring your career options so you are ready should you decide to make the change. And once you start down a new path keep your nursing license in an inactive status just in case things change down the road. Best wishes.
  11. by   irishnurse15
    You sound like you would be amazing with home hospice or case management in home hospice. Nurses in these positions feel more of a relationship with their patients and patient families.
    Also, some insurance companies have positions for nurses to work with a select patient populations, such as COPDers, CHFers, diabetics, etc, to teach and offer support
  12. by   SaltySarcasticSally
    I too think you would enjoy being a hospice case manager. As part of my clinical, I did 32 hours with a hospice case manager, she was amazing! It's not a job that I think I am fit for but I was amazed at her ability to provide such comforting and excellent care in really sad situations. I had a whole new perspective on hospice after being with her. I am sure other hospital systems do this but I know mine has nurses in doctor's office settings that only work one chronic illness, say diabetes. The nurses do home visits, coordinating care, and long term follow up. I think you should look at those positions within your own hospital network so you can keep on track with your BSN and give yourself a bit of a breather.
  13. by   NightNerd
    Thanks, all! It's been almost a month since I write this thread originally, so I've had some time to reflect; plus, a lot has happened at my current unit. This still may not be the place for me forever, but I am starting to feel more confident in myself and proud of my work, and I think this confidence is shared by my coworkers, as I was recently asked to help precept one of our new grad RNs.

    I am definitely going to stick out the BSN and see what other doors open up with this degree and the next year of experience. Maybe it really is just a matter of gritting my teeth and putting in my time until I can find a job more suited to me in nursing. (It would be so great to give school a break for a while after this!) Thank you everyone for your ideas and perspective!
  14. by   PedsHopeful
    I am interested in getting into this. Do you mind sharing how you did it or who you work for?

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