Returning to the bedside..not such a good idea afterall

  1. I left bedside nursing several years back (2009 to be exact)...in the past few months I decided that maybe it was time to return...I was wrong. The issues that plague and continue to plague the nursing profession (long shifts, short on staff, more and more paperwork/EMR charting and all the other stuff) has, in my opinion, only mushroomed since the last time I worked at the bedside. Nurses are left little time to really..nurse..if that makes sense. It's not surprising so many new grads leave, seasoned nurses drop to PRN or move into other flavors of nursing and that a lot of nurses struggle with mental and physical health issues.
    I have no choice but to remain where I am and make the best of it but for any nurse who has left and is thinking about returning, please think long and hard before making the leap - especially if it's been over a year. Healthcare is not, sadly, what it use to be in some ways and nursing seems to be taking the most hits from the changes.
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from Marshall1
    I left bedside nursing several years back (2009 to be exact)...in the past few months I decided that maybe it was time to return...I was wrong.
    I've been at the bedside my entire nursing career but, due to some of the issues you've mentioned, I plan to make my exit within the next year or two.

    I've already taken some concrete steps to make it happen, such as recently completing an online BSN program, earning specialty certification, and planning to enroll in graduate school later this year. But in my opinion, bedside nursing has devolved into sport for the birds.
  4. by   imintrouble
    There will be a swing back to sanity in nursing. It's just not going to happen soon enough for me.
    The current atmosphere is just not sustainable. There are no CNAs because they all want to be nurses. Bedside nurses stay only long enough until they can escape to something else. Few of us want to stay where we are. When us oldies are gone, who's going to take care of the patient?
    Maybe I'll witness the change when I'm the patient.
  5. by   Marshall1
    I'd like to say after a few more weeks I'm seeing things differently..unfortunately, I'm not. If I'm able to get away from bedside nursing again I will not return to it. Ever.
    I don't know when healthcare changed, what happened to nursing..there are as many theories and opinions as there are people working in it, but what I know is if healthcare/nursing is what I am seeing now in a larger, good quality hospital, I'd hate to see what it's like in a hospital that is poorly run. There is no need to list the issues..everyone, or most everyone on here who has been a nurse for more than 10 minutes, know them. Too bad the MBA/non-clinical leaders don't recognize them. Or maybe they do and they just don't care. Whatever the issues/causes/reasons, I hope my return to the bedside is short lived.
  6. by   Nei77
    I am so happy to see this post. I have an offer as an independent nurse assessor for an Insurance and I was nervous about leaving the bedside and loosing my skills. But I really did not like bedside for all those reasons you mentioned. There is no more patient care. It is sad. Nurses are overworked. I was sick most of the time. I wish it would be different because patient care is the reason I got into nursing. Thanks so much for the post. Good luck to you
  7. by   Marshall1
    I have secured a position outside of the hospital that will allow me to use my skills without the 13+ hours shifts and all the stress that goes with it. The relief I feel is enormous. I don't expect this position to be without stress but I can't imagine it will ever be like the hospital. While I will miss having days off during the weekend, what they "cost" by remaining in the hospital setting was just not worth it to me. I can't see ever returning to hospital nursing again..the stress and liability are just too high.
  8. by   Curious1alwys
    OH man, I too am planning on returning after a hiatus but on a PRN basis but still one time per week. I remember the floor well (can you say PTSD?) so even this ONE shift is freaking me out. I tell myself it is such great money and I'll keep my skills but I am very conflicted. You are right, things don't look like they will ever change. I was just hoping I could endure any torture for 12 hrs per week. Such a sad situation that patients are the least of our problems. Good luck to you in your new position, update us! A return to the hospital will make the 3rd job for me because the other two represent my foray away from the bedside!
  9. by   Nei77
    Hi I get what you guys are feeling. Right now I am debating if to get a job 9-5 physician practice or go back to hospital just because of keeping skills. But for the sake of my health I really don't want to go back to the hospital setting. I agree with you Curious1alwys, BSN, RN PTSD is right!!!! I still have nightmares once in a while.
  10. by   Rokufox
    A lot of the issues in bedside nursing are not hospital specific it seems...they are problems that occur in a lot of places due to understaffing and workload. There's a lot to deal with on a daily basis as a bedside nurse (doctors, family members, decline in stability, administrative people). It's like having many jobs in one, and I don't really know if it will improve or not. The people running the place aren't the ones doing bedside care, so they don't see what it's really like.
  11. by   Rokufox
    Quote from Nei77
    Hi I get what you guys are feeling. Right now I am debating if to get a job 9-5 physician practice or go back to hospital just because of keeping skills. But for the sake of my health I really don't want to go back to the hospital setting. I agree with you Curious1alwys, BSN, RN PTSD is right!!!! I still have nightmares once in a while.
    I like having 4 days off a week, but 12 hour days really exauhst you. I think I'd be willing to try something that might be less stressful even if it's a M-F job. 12 hour shifts are tough, especially bedside!
  12. by   laflaca
    I made it exactly one year in hospital nursing. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I had no idea. When I found another job and quit, I figured that sooner or later I'd start worrying about "losing my skills" or missing out on the higher pay.

    Knowing this, I actually hunted down an old journal to write myself this note:

    "I feel compelled to reopen this after eight years to tell myself this:

    Whatever happens, however tempting it may seem, I am not cut out for hospital nursing. Even if it’s a float position and I’m only going to work one day a week, and it’s $100/hour. Even if it’s a low-acuity unit. Even if my friend works there. No. Don’t do it. Why?

    I worked probably 65 hours in the past six days, and yet I have been awake since 3AM worrying that I didn’t chart something, that I was supposed to pull that guy’s Foley before he went to the nursing home, that I completely forgot to assess a critically ill patient (which turned out to be a dream, but it took me a long time to be certain about that).

    I like taking care of people but I don’t like grimly scurrying from one task to the next, always late, always interrupted, rarely with any time to read or talk in depth about my patients to truly understand what’s going on - even on this unit with only 4:1 ratio and good CNAs. The doctors, or at least a good 50% of the doctors, are unspeakably rude and disrespectful. I don’t like having so little control over my working conditions. Everything is about moving bodies out of here as quickly as possible, regardless of whether they can take care of themselves, and getting in new bodies with billable insurance. I don't ever feel like I can really take care of people; to survive in this environment, I have to plot my tasks to absolutely minimize any time spent interacting with the patient ("time management"). It's infuriating, exhausting, and sad.

    For the past two days I worked 13.5+ hours with one 15-20 minute break to cram food in my face. And speaking of food, I’m also tired of forcing myself to eat when I’m not hungry (because maybe the 9:30 AM lunch is the only chance I’ll get). Yesterday I hated myself because a very sweet patient was telling me how much he appreciated me, and asking about my dogs, and all I could think was that every minute he talked was one more minute between me and food. It was 15:30, I hadn’t had even a sip of water since 06:30, and I had been busting my ass the whole day.

    I have bouts of insomnia, which I never used to have. I wake up literally groaning with anxiety about some forgotten task. I bit all my nails off. I can’t make myself exercise. I don’t read. I'm crabby or zoned out, or both, at home. I've always loved cooking but dinner last night was cereal, ice cream, and a gin and tonic.

    Nope. Too much. Don’t do it."

    That pretty much sums up my feelings on the topic.
  13. by   Marshall1
    I am now in a M-F position (with Fridays being early days), no weekends, no holidays, no call, benefits, PTO, an hour for lunch (most of the time provided for us), able to use nursing skills and spend time with patients, coworkers work together, etc..I am no longer exhausted, irritable or dreading returning to work, I don't have to get up way early or go to bed way early in order to spend 13-14 hours in the conditions as described. If I need a day off I can easily get it. I am extremely relieved to be out of the hospital setting. It truly saddens me how much it has changed, how undervalued and overworked most nurses in hospitals seem to be. For me, working the 12 hour shifts in order to have a few days off during the week was just not worth what it was costing me - personally and professionally. I make more money, less stress. Never again for me for the hospital.
  14. by   flying_ace2
    Quote from laflaca
    I made it exactly one year in hospital nursing. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I had no idea. When I found another job and quit, I figured that sooner or later I'd start worrying about "losing my skills" or missing out on the higher pay.

    Knowing this, I actually hunted down an old journal to write myself this note:

    "I feel compelled to reopen this after eight years to tell myself this:

    Whatever happens, however tempting it may seem, I am not cut out for hospital nursing. Even if it’s a float position and I’m only going to work one day a week, and it’s $100/hour. Even if it’s a low-acuity unit. Even if my friend works there. No. Don’t do it. Why?

    I worked probably 65 hours in the past six days, and yet I have been awake since 3AM worrying that I didn’t chart something, that I was supposed to pull that guy’s Foley before he went to the nursing home, that I completely forgot to assess a critically ill patient (which turned out to be a dream, but it took me a long time to be certain about that).

    I like taking care of people but I don’t like grimly scurrying from one task to the next, always late, always interrupted, rarely with any time to read or talk in depth about my patients to truly understand what’s going on - even on this unit with only 4:1 ratio and good CNAs. The doctors, or at least a good 50% of the doctors, are unspeakably rude and disrespectful. I don’t like having so little control over my working conditions. Everything is about moving bodies out of here as quickly as possible, regardless of whether they can take care of themselves, and getting in new bodies with billable insurance. I don't ever feel like I can really take care of people; to survive in this environment, I have to plot my tasks to absolutely minimize any time spent interacting with the patient ("time management"). It's infuriating, exhausting, and sad.

    For the past two days I worked 13.5+ hours with one 15-20 minute break to cram food in my face. And speaking of food, I’m also tired of forcing myself to eat when I’m not hungry (because maybe the 9:30 AM lunch is the only chance I’ll get). Yesterday I hated myself because a very sweet patient was telling me how much he appreciated me, and asking about my dogs, and all I could think was that every minute he talked was one more minute between me and food. It was 15:30, I hadn’t had even a sip of water since 06:30, and I had been busting my ass the whole day.

    I have bouts of insomnia, which I never used to have. I wake up literally groaning with anxiety about some forgotten task. I bit all my nails off. I can’t make myself exercise. I don’t read. I'm crabby or zoned out, or both, at home. I've always loved cooking but dinner last night was cereal, ice cream, and a gin and tonic.

    Nope. Too much. Don’t do it."

    That pretty much sums up my feelings on the topic.
    I just wanted to say thank you for this. I have been out of nursing school for just a little over a year, working in a busy OR. I returned to school as a second degree student, and because I had previous work experience in the "real world", I did not go into nursing thinking I was going to save the planet, or that it was going to be easy in any way. However, if my OR is a reflection of how hospitals operate across the country, I have no idea how any nurse stays at the bedside at all. I have never, ever been as miserable in a job as I am in this one, for a variety of reasons. I am experiencing the problems you wrote about - the insomnia, the irritability, the anxiety - and I feel like I could have written what you did. It sums up each and every awful day that I work, except that I also am surrounded by coworkers who, instead of helping each other, back stab and throw each other under the bus just to get ahead with management. I am interviewing next week for an office position as a nurse consultant for a research company, and if I am offered the job I will take it and never look back. My own mental, emotional, and physical health are far more important to me than staying in such a position.

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