Another burnt out nurse - questioning everything. . .

  1. I am an RN on a busy med-surg floor in a mid-sized hospital in the "bad" part of a southern city. I've been on the floor for a year, but also used to work on this floor as a new grad back in 2009 (I moved away from the area for a couple of years then returned). I work with good people for the most part but the hospital is just a disorganized mess. I used to enjoy working there and wanted to make it a better place. . .but these last couple of months I have lost all joy and just feel. . .nothing. Just dread. Just frustration. Physically sick when I think about/go to work. My coworkers have noticed although I try to hide it. I do the job and treat the pts well, but I just don't care anymore.

    Also, I am in school at a large local university for my master's in nursing. . .which I was very excited about. . .and now I am thinking of quitting. The classes are all "theory" and paper writing and nothing clinical and speaking to the upper level students, they say even the CLINICAL classes aren't really clinical and NP's are graduating and passing boards without really ever even seeing patients or caring for them and are being thrown into jobs seeing 15-20 pts a day after just a few days of orientation! Scary stuff. And this is a "good" university with a reputation of having a good NP school.

    I am questioning why I am doing this, why NP? Is it just because as a "smart girl" I feel pushed toward a higher degree? That as a single mom I feel the need to push myself and have a good career? I thought I wanted to work primary care focusing on geriatrics, but NP's face the same problems that RNs face. . .just with more responsibility and pressure.

    I am questioning why I am a nurse. The 12 hr shifts are just killing me - before I was a single mom, it was no problem but now I come home after 13 exhausting hours and get my toddler from my mom and bath him and put him to bed and it is so late (his bedtime has been 9:30pm since he was an infant because of my schedule) and I am so tired and then I have to either spend the night at my mom's or drive to my apt for just a few hours of sleep before doing it all again.

    I am torn between having the extra days off by working 2-3 12s a week. . .or having a more "normal" schedule so that my son will have a more normal schedule. Is it good for him to have such an exhausted mama?

    I also think back to working as a professional in an office before I became a nurse. I changed careers because I wanted to do something completely new and because I was single back then and LOVED to travel all over the world and thought that as a nurse I would have the $$ and time to travel. Which I did - before becoming a mom I took weeks off at a time and traveled to south america and africa and asia and just loved it. Being a PRN 12 hr shift hospital nurse was PERFECT as a single gal in my 20s. Now? Not sure. . .

    I feel so lost. I am in my mid 30's and just feel lost. And anxious and scared about my whole life. I feel the decisions I make now will affect me and my son forever. I care about my son so much and am so fearful of the future raising him by myself. My mom is so much help to me (I moved back here so she could help me) but her health is poor and she cannot do as much as she would like. Watching a toddler is exhausting for her even though she loves it. I try not to work 2 days in a row because it is too much for her.

    I don't know what I am looking for - advice, other people's stories, just some people who maybe understand or who have been there. I look at my options - finding a job in nursing with better hours, leaving school/staying in school, leaving nurses entirely (I have other skills to fall back on but the pay wouldn't be as good), trying to get into an insurance company.

    I do enjoy patient interaction. I love my patients, especially my elderly patients. I love getting to know them and helping them. I don't mind doing CNA work - when I have the time to bath a patient or help them ambulate or talk to family or just LISTEN to them, it is a good day. I have never been attracted to the critical side of nursing - thank god there are nurses who love it and work in our ICUs and ERs because I just couldn't do it. Very sick patients scare me.

    I have played with the idea of working at an ALF or SNF, with 8 hr shifts, but the reputation of them around here is so awful and I fear that it would be brutal to work there.

    As you can see. . .I am lost.

    Thank you for reading my long post. I have been wanting to write it for a while, I just never had the time plus I always fear some people's responses on here.
  2. Visit AlphaPig profile page

    About AlphaPig

    Joined: Sep '12; Posts: 90; Likes: 154
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in neuro/med surg, acute rehab


  3. by   HouTx
    I get it. You're exhausted. Get some rest & take some time to enjoy your baby.

    Then - after catching up on your sleep - I think you will realize that it would be a real mistake to abandon your graduate education at this point. Your MSN will open doors. Doors you don't even know about yet. You will be much more prepared to provide a better life for yourself & your child.

    Also - your fellow students aren't exactly objective about your program. They are not speaking from an objective viewpoint, nor do they actually understand how all of the curriculum fits together because they are in the middle of it also. It is only after you graduate that you begin to appreciate all of that "papers & theories" stuff. Trust me, BTDT.

    You do NOT want to wake up in a couple of years thinking "OMG - I could have had my MSN by now" It would be so bitter to look around you and see people who have graduate degrees and know (in your heart) that you are just as smart, if not smarter, than they are. You've come so far -- Just keep on keeping on for a while longer.

    You can do this.
  4. by   nurseprnRN
    You absolutely can do this, and 100% agree about the MN opening doors you don't even know about yet. My degree was a loooong time ago and the doors it opens now didn't even exist then. I began it with a 6-week old and finished pg c #2, and was a single mom 10 months later. I thank the goddess fairly regularly that I stuck it out for their sakes They're grown and gone now...and it's still a big plus.

    Have you looked up at the top of this and checked the "specialties" fora? Lots of non-12-hour shiftwork careers there!
  5. by   Barnstormin' PMHNP
    Life is long and you have so much ahead of you. It is very difficult to work and go to school with children, I waited until mine were older because I thought it would be easier but it really is just as difficult now that they are teens. I would advise you to keep going for your MSN. A clinic FNP job is much different than a hospital NP. There are many options out there, but it is hard to see straight when you are so tired, unhappy and feeling guilty about your son. Trust me he will love you just as much when he is older, quality is more important than quantity, plus he has Grandma (what wonderful memories he will have of her growing up!). You sound like an amazing, hard working mom, and hats off to all the single moms like you who are making do. See if you can mix some 8's in with the 12's. I have done both and I know there are down sides to them both, I think if you go to 8's you will find schoolwork much harder to keep up with, I know I do. Honestly I would try everything I could if I were you to get through school. Go on a job search engine and keep looking, something might come up that fits for you at this time. Know that the important thing is to just be with your son and kiss him and snuggle him.
  6. by   1wellnessnurse
    Hang in there. I'm also in an MSN program and writing endless papers. I wonder if you could switch to a Baylor program (where you work 2 12 hour shifts, usually on a weekend and get paid for F/T hours). I think cutting back your working hours might help you with the burn-out.
  7. by   MauraRN
    It sounds like the job is what is burning you out. Why not a SNF, home health, hospice? Those are the type of jobs where you will find more of your elderly "lovies".
  8. by   LadyFree28
    Have you considered working a weekend program? Research if your area has Baylor programs, and/or flex time programs to give you time for your schooling and your career, and a better work/life balance.

    Best wishes.
    Last edit by LadyFree28 on Oct 7, '13
  9. by   tokmom
    I was a btdt. I thought I hated nursing, and actually was out of the profession for close to 5 yrs. Turned out I didn't hate nursing, it was the facility that I did not like.

    Keep looking for your niche. With a masters you will have more options. I understand the exhaustion. When I had to return to the nursing field after husband had huge health crisis, I went on a huge pity party for a week. I found a hospital willing to take me on. That was almost 5 yrs ago and it's been nothing but trying to deal with a sick husband, seven kids (one special needs) and education. Not only work education (PALS, ACLS) but I'm putting myself through for my BSN. Did I mention countless committee work and union delegate/negotiations?

    Finally...finally...I see an end to this next April. I will have my BSN and some committee work will drop off.

    So...what I'm saying is, it's crazy now, but stick with the school and try to see if you can find a nursing position you might like.

  10. by   khausig
    I understand where you are coming from. I have spent the past 12 years in a career that was, at first, perfect for me. Lots of travel, working outside, non-standard schedules... then it began to drag on me and I am to the point where I just can't take it anymore. I've been taking prereqs in hopes to start a BSN program in January, which will be a complete change from my current situation. I am excited to be doing something different with my life and it feels great to not be buried under the feeling of being stuck!

    It sounds to me like you are exhausted and that the type of nursing you are currently in just isn't a good fit for your present circumstances. I agree with the previous posters that you should try to finish your MS if possible, but there are so many types of nursing jobs out there that might be a better fit for your life and career choice. If you think ALF or SNF might be a good fit, check them out! It might be just the thing you are looking for. A change of scenery or pace could make all the difference. And, I know it is difficult, but try to take everyone else's advice and suggestions (my own included) with a grain of salt. Only you know what is best for you and your family and you have to follow your heart to find it. One person's nightmare of a job is another's heavenly place to work.

    I wish you the best in your schooling and finding a good balance with your work and family life.
  11. by   Carol Condit
    KEEP at it. I have 2 13 mos. apart and stopped with LPN. LOVE my jobs BUT wish I had finished at least an ADN. Now too old to go back!
    Try Hospice nursing for that missing family/pt. contact and teaching. It is VERY rewarding! Best to you young one, you will not regret staying the course when you finish and look back.
  12. by   Carol Condit
    I agree with the others too. A/L or SNF might just be the least look into them.
  13. by   DrHarrietteBarker
    You are overstressed, so you need to step back a bit. If you drive you could try home health nursing. It gives you some flexibility. Also you can try teaching a Home Health Aide course for an agency or a CNA course. All of these would take you away from those 12 hr shifts, and give you some daylight hours with your son.
  14. by   VivaLasViejas
    ALF nursing is not the picnic it's made out to be. Not when you're responsible for 85 residents or more, at least 30 of whom are nursing-home ready and 15 more should be in memory care. Not when you're held accountable for every single thing that goes wrong, yet you don't have the power to move a resident out when s/he becomes inappropriate for the ALF setting. Not when you have no say in what the marketing director is bringing in the door and leaving you to figure out how to take care of them.

    I loved some of my ALF jobs, but the last one tipped me over into a realm of anxiety and paranoia I'd never even imagined. I wouldn't recommend this kind of work to anyone who values her/his sanity.

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