My Burnout Story - page 2
I’ve been crying all morning coming from a pain so deeply repressed and locked inside me. I watched my last patient die three days ago and leave in his wake a broken family truly taken to the depths... Read More
Feb 14, '16Thank you for sharing your story. Although I am not a new nurse to ICU, I am new to CVICU. Thank you for your story and hope things get better for you. I cannot imagine the wealth of knowledge you have on the field maybe you can use it to help other nurses who are starting out. thank you for you service.
Feb 14, '16My heart goes out to you because I experienced the same difficult decision to leave nursing after 19 1/2 years.
Feb 14, '16It's sad that in medicine we are weak if we have emotion for our patients. Please know not all of us are without them. I've cried with many families, patients and coworkers. Find your peace, and please don't give up on life, laughter or people....walking away from nursing needs only be a Segway to a new, greater chapter in your life.
Feb 15, '16I'm so sorry for all the bad that has happened. The pain is probably because you care.
Feb 15, '16Quote from KCMnurseYou can never care too much IMO. As a nurse I believe we should be compassionate. The day my job becomes an automatic,non feeling job will be the day I will quit nursing.Your message strikes a chord in any nurse who has an iota of compassion left. I have not experienced the same things you have but I have experienced burn out and a strong desire to talk with someone who understands what I am going through.
You did the right thing - walking away is extremely hard but you have to take care of yourself. Whatever that takes - do it! I have quit a job because I just had no more to give. My husband says I care too much - he may be right but I don't know how to be a nurse any other way. It won't always seem this dark but right now you have to nurture yourself before you can think about caring for anyone else. My heart goes out to you and I wish you the very best. Take the time you need to renew yourself.
Feb 15, '16OMG, find a therapist now. I don't know how you dealt with this for so long, but please find some one soon. You are too important to your loved ones.
Feb 15, '16Wow, I am married to an 18 year ICU nurse and my daughter is also an ICU nurse. They both love their jobs, and I am fortunate to have a wife that is so great (I don't deserve) and a daughter that is equally as wonderful.
I am truly blessed! My wife married me and Airline Guy, so when she needs it we take off and fly somewhere. I have a medical background (10 years Army Medical department) and we can talk about her bad days! She has been there for the Cancer Death of my sister and the Murder of my 29 year old son, couldn't ask for someone that cares more about my children and family than her. I have been truly God Blessed with us finding each other over 10 years ago!
Take a break, travel, have a life seeing great places and realize the Nurses help change the world! Now that I am married to one, I reflect and wish I would have be a wonderful Nurse like her - Love with tears and emotions! LOVE YOU K.S. you're a GREAT ICU RN.
Feb 17, '16"Ever had a day where you got sent home because both of your patients died?"
I have, actually, and that's a crappy feeling. It feels like you're getting blamed, like the charge is saying, "Well, you killed them off, so go home before you kill anybody else today!" It's hard not to take it personally.
Most of the time they'll still have us stay because that means two empty rooms and I could just get two admissions instead, but I have been sent home when patients die if I am on overtime.
It all just sucks. I am sorry you are going through this.
Feb 17, '16Everyone has different coping skills. Some good (moderate exercise, painting, family time, etc) others not so much (smoking, drinking, ignoring their stress/anguish). Sadly most of us are not taught how to handle things well and few of us are supported by our employers either. I lean on my family and friends, chocolate, and peaceful walks. I also try to keep a boundary between my patients and myself. I'm not perfect at this, that doesn't mean I don't care or provide compassionate care, that just means I try to leave work at work. I've attended plenty of funerals and have cried with family members ( those I have gotten to know over years). You can care without breaking down. I'm not at all implying that is what the OP did. Most of us simply aren't equipped to deal with death day in and day out, especially the traumatic and heinous deaths that we as nurses see.
For everyone who read this story, learn from the OP. Don't wait until you can't take it anymore. Get the help you need when you need it.
Feb 26, '16Been there. I feel for you. I think we are nurses are so traumatized we are now numb.
I am in my 3rd nursing career change. I did 4 years in CV/Tele/Stepdown. Saw it all. I saw a lady's butt had grown in to her rocker chair from neglect, watched the surgeon gag one day as he came in to repack the black hole tunneling wound, and will never forget the odor that came out. I remember when her "caregiver" was arrested at the bedside. I remember when this woman died of overwhelming sepsis. And that is just ONE story.
I did 14 years in Public Health doing home visits with my supergirl cape, wanting to change the world with prevention. Totally opposite end of the spectrum from death and CABG's, right? Managerial ******** is what made me run screaming from that job. I mean, who needs a raise EVER right? Public Health nurses don't have safety fears in drug homes right? But probation officers do, and they were often in the same room with me.
I am now in school nursing. I am hoping this will be my last adventure in nursing.
Hang in there.
Feb 29, '16This might be one reason for a phenomenon I saw quite a bit in the 90s....the movement back and forth from ICU to home health. Many ICU nurses (not all, by any means, for reasons which I will mention a bit later) in my area took a year or two off from ICU and worked home health, or even worked occasional weekends or divided their time between the two. I was one who took time off, partly due to the stress and partly because my kids were going through high school and I needed the flexibility so I could go to soccer games, cross country meets, choir concerts, etc. In home health we really valued the assessment skills of the ICU nurses, and in turn, they appreciated the more relaxed atmosphere and the time between patients (we were in a rural area, so there was driving time which gave you time to unwind a bit) as well as the opportunity to relate to the patients more fully.
There were some ICU nurses who felt that home health was somehow "beneath" them. I heard that when I went back into hospital nursing. They were afraid they'd "lose their skills" or something like that, at least that was what I heard them say. Some burned out types became agency nurses and went from ICU to ICU and hospital to hospital, but it didn't seem to help them. Others became travelers; I met quite a few during my brief travel career. That did seem to help them as a change of scenery often does, besides which there is a certain detachment that comes with traveling. You don't have to become involved in the politics of a place and you can just take care of your patients and go home, and after 13 weeks you go somewhere else.
Mar 1, '16I too have compassion fatigue and anxiety. I have only been an LPN for 3 years. I think constantly running short staffed is burning out a lot of nurses. I am also quitting my job and am grateful I can take some time off to heal myself and take care of me. Last year I contracted EBV and I have been struggling ever since.
May 10, '16There is a balance in what I have to say. On the one hand, our job as medical professionals must be to preserve life; but on the other hand, we have to accept death as a possibility. We are often not in control of that outcome. We do what we can and that is all we can do. Death is not in our hands and we cannot stop that process if it is going to happen. None of us will be here forever and all of us at some time will experience death. I have seen babies die. I have experienced death in family and friends. The longer I live, the more people that die. My mother, my best friend, passed away 3 years ago. My father passed away a year and a half later.
I believe our society is not prepared for death as a part of life. We think that death is abnormal. It's not. So many people today have unfortunately embraced atheism; and even if some don't believe they are atheists, they wonder if this is all there is? Judging from the lifestyles and ideologies of many medical professionals, I don't believe many of them make God a priority or know Him. Is it just about being here, being married and then leaving the planet? I know there is a heaven. I know that being prepared for this eventuality is probably the most important aspect of a person's life that they can do for themselves. I know that I will see my mom again for all of eternity. My mom had faith in Jesus Christ and I know that I know that she is there as is my dad and so many of my friends who have gone before me. I believe in Jesus Christ and have been changed by His grace. That's all that matters.
We can't expect that the pain of death will go away. Nobody will ever be able to replace that person who died. Some deaths are very tragic. Other deaths are so desired due to the pain and suffering the person is experiencing. We who are left though miss that person. I believe that it is unrealistic not to embrace that pain and shed some tears of sorrow. I am crying for myself because of that loss and how much I will miss that person. That is what should happen. We live in a world that does not embrace pain and sorrow. We are expected to bounce back and be our jovial selves again instantly. Nobody can accomplish this and so there is the frustration of wanting to be happy but feeling that intense sorrow inside. People say things trying to make us feel better but really can anything take that pain away? I don't think it can. The hardest part of losing someone is not that moment of death but the moment six months down the road when we wish they were here to talk to and share a moment with. As medical professionals, we too experience that loss. We meet these people and they become a part of us to a certain extent. Mourning the loss of a patient is a real aspect of being a nurse. It is normal.