Is this the wrong field for me?

  1. 5
    I got into nursing because I (naievely?) believed I would be helping people - and they'd apreciate it.

    Instead, as a CNA for 3 years in a SNF, hospital adult/teen/pediatric psyche, and acute level oncology unit...and now an RN in a SNF for 6 months I am haunted by the frequency of the thought, "I hate my patients."

    Could it be possible that I am jaded already?

    My patients are the whiniest bunch of rude, ungrateful, selfish, demented people I've ever met! They fake chest pain to get out of therapy (I overheard one laughing to another about how this is "the best way to get out of PT."), they keep home medications in their drawer and self-medicate without telling the nurses, they expect me to come at their beck and call, always have a smile on my face, and be sympathetic and compassionate 24/7!

    I often ask myself how I can feel this way towards people who cannot help the fact they have dementia or other cognitive issues which cause them to "finger paint" with their feces on the wall of their room, ask me the same question 10 times per hour, never say thank you or please, and always express distaste that I didn't make it to their room within 2 minutes of their request. Not to mention the fact that they do so much annoying sh*t like pouring their pills into their hand from the cup only to spill them on the floor and bedsheets, taking forever and a day to swallow one pill (again, if they can't help this why does it frustrate me so?), call me in to their room to tell me their toe hurts when they are admitted for pneumonia, CHF, or a hip fractrure.

    Is it wrong to be frustrated and angered by these people? Does that indicate that I am in the wrong field? Am I not the compassionate person I thought I was?

    I'm so frustrated because I have worked so hard to get where I am, but I feel like I should be 100% compassionate 100% of the time. IS that even possible?

    I had no idea how annoying patients could be, NO IDEA!
    noyesno, Nurzelady, mustlovepoodles, and 2 others like this.

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  2. 24 Comments...

  3. 6
    Sounds like you've put some unrealistic expectation on both yourself and your patient load. Demenita, psych and the like are difficult because of the nuances that really can get under one's skin. I don't think your frustration is a sign that you are not compassionate or not a good nurse. I think they are glaring signs that you need a break from that patient load.
  4. 1
    Generally, when you work with the public (patients in this case) it sucks because like you said they're whiny, needy, and constantly complain about things you couldn't care less about. That said, people that work with the public generally always work with the public. They never get out of it and do something more private. I'm not sure why.

    For me it's certainly not altruism, yet others will tout that it is more because I believe society has trained them to believe they're altruistic when they're really not. I've worked predominately in police work since college, and I honestly hate dealing with the public these days. I'm constantly infuriated by the garbage that routinely spews out of their mouths. I go through phases where it doesn't bother then all of a sudden one day I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum again. Having said all that I'm now in nursing school, and I find working with patients to be much the same way. Can they tell? Not at all (seriously) because, for my survival on the street, I've had to become darn good at faking it. One becomes good at communication and body lanaguage when you're using it on a daily basis to keep other people from killing you. I stuck with policing because it was fun. What I call the mind game of it was fun and the tactics were fun. Then it got to be "well, let me do this again" - not complacent at all but a "here we go again" type of thing. I don't mind doing the work, but I can't stand listening to people's gripes and sob stories anymore. I shouldn't be a nurse really, but here we are. I'll give it the old school try for a while.

    The gist of what I'm trying to tell you is yeah you hate your job. You really do, and nursing isn't for you. Likely, however, you'll find some reason to stay, or you'll change fields entirely. At some point, you'll break and decide you want to do something else whether it's work at the hospital across the street or coach football. Who knows? This reply wasn't helpful, but you're certainly not alone. Thousands upon thousands of nurses everywhere (regardless of what you'll read here on a pro-nurse forum) echo your thoughts.
    Bella'sMyBaby likes this.
  5. 0
    I wouldn't say leave the nursing field, but how about your specific field of nursing. I dont know what degree you hold, but maybe go into Case Management, NICU, Research, Education, maybe even Primary Care? What about doing community health, you could do things like safe sex presentations, etc....? I know there are some fields of nursing that dont require direct patient care. There are even phone triage jobs (like we had Ask-a-Nurse, where you called a hotline and got advice from a nurse) Hope you find something suitable for you, good luck!
    Last edit by Mrs. SnowStormRN on May 10, '11
  6. 1
    The average nurse burns out at the 5 year mark. Hence the nursing shortage. It is a thankless job. What you're feeling is not unusual. You do not have an easy job. Don't be hard on yourself.
    mustlovepoodles likes this.
  7. 0
    I understand what you are going through. I work ortho and I am sad to say that pt's pain levels mean nothing to me anymore. When I first started I would get all worked up if a pt told me they had 10/10 pain, now it doesn't even phase me. I still give them the proper nursing care but I am disappointed in myself that I no longer care. I am giving serious thought to leaving nursing.
  8. 2
    Quote from MekBlizz
    I wouldn't say leave the nursing field, but how about your specific field of nursing. I dont know what degree you hold, but maybe go into Case Management, NICU, Research, Education, maybe even Primary Care? What about doing community health, you could do things like safe sex presentations, etc....? I know there are some fields of nursing that dont require direct patient care. There are even phone line jobs (like we had Ask-a-Nurse, where you called a hotline and got advice from a nurse) Hope you find something suitable for you, good luck!

    I've worked in telephone triage for many years and it can be stressful because you have patients calling who are anxious and want a 'quick answer'. Callers can be angry and rude....perhaps because they are on the phone and it isn't face to face....the same 'road rage' syndrome that you see with drivers in vehicles. But to say try 'phone line jobs' because the patients won't be as demanding or rude is misleading...it isn't true...they are very demanding on the phones. You have to have exceptional listening skills and be able to type, talk at the same time while moving through multiple computer screens.
    Last edit by telenurse2009 on May 10, '11 : Reason: spelling mistake
    alem-tsahai and mustlovepoodles like this.
  9. 5
    Happiness is a choice we make each day. Surely you must have some fabulous patients and families to go along with the bad? Who will you choose to focus on? Smile. Be a light to the world. let your caring shine through, evenn toward the unruly patient. In the end, your happiness will become contagious....
    SKassen, Aka Mommy, noahsmama, and 2 others like this.
  10. 0
    Quote from telenurse2009
    I've worked in telephone triage for many years and it can be stressful because you have patients calling who are anxious and want a 'quick answer'. Callers can be angry and rude....perhaps because they are on the phone and it isn't face to face....the same 'road rage' syndrome that you see with drivers in vehicles. But to say try 'phone line jobs' because the patients won't be as demanding or rude is misleading...it isn't true...they are very demanding on the phones. You have to have exceptional listening skills and be able to type, talk at the same time while moving through multiple computer screens.
    I didnt say patients wouldnt be demeaning or rude over the phone. Ive worked the phone lines before myself (not in nursing, but in telemarketing and yes people can be rude, demeaning, and miserable) - but at least I could roll my eyes, put them on hold, and draw pictures while I worked. Many fields have their stressful moments. I am merely making suggestions of jobs that may be LESS stressful for the OP. Please dont put words in my mouth, unless you can read my mind. Whose to say that this may NOT be a better fit for her? Im merely saying, give something else a try before jumping out of nursing all together. I know people who said to me, "How can you work in psych? I could never do that." They tried it out, and love it, while others have tried and hate it (its based on the individual) Soooooo..... You never know your niche until you try new things. Education can be stressful, which I also mentioned. Case Management can be stressful, which I also mentioned, NICU may be stressful which I also mentioned.... TONS OF JOBS ARE STRESSFUL, but the OP still may be able to handle these jobs better than her current job. It may be a better fit for her (it may not - this is why it's called a suggestion), where this job probably is not a fit for her. Right? I was merely trying to show the OP the variety of options she has in nursing. Just because it isnt for you, doesnt mean it isnt for someone else. Look at all the threads of people who want to get out of LTC, while there are nurses who wouldnt work anywhere else because its "their thing." Maybe you hate it, but the next person loves it. We can't all like and dislike the same things, how would that work out in the field? Just food for thought.
    Last edit by Mrs. SnowStormRN on May 10, '11
  11. 1
    Let me say this a different way....as nurses our personal feelings must be able to be left on the frront stoop of the hospital. Nothing that goes on inside should be about the nurse.
    SKassen likes this.


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