Anxiety Attacks Before Work

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,
    I would like to start out by saying that I have been an LPN for 5 years now, and in healthcare for 7 (I was a CNA for 2 years prior). Since the moment I stepped foot into long term care I have felt at home. Of course I've branched out into hospital and office work, but I have loved working with the elderly population more than I would have ever thought possible. I have always loved my job. Recently though I've noticed a shift, not in the way I feel for patients, or family members, or even how much i love my job. I suppose I've lost my confidence. My last 2 jobs have been terrible. Poorly managed and incredibly understaffed. I left my most recent position after 1 month, because the working conditions were frustrating at best.

    On my last week at my last job I had what I can only describe as an a series of anxiety attacks before leaving my car for work. I've never questioned my nursing judgement before, I mean I've had questions and asked another nurse to double check something or if they see what I'm seeing, but that to me is just teamwork. However, I've never had such an intense sense of dread before a shift and now I can't shake it. I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong, or if I'm being diligent enough because I feel something a nagging something in the back of my mind.

    It's pushed me to the point of second guessing RN school which I've been accepted to in the spring, and I've even began to second guess my career as a nurse. I've talked to a friend who has been a nurse for many years. She's told me that burn out is common around this time, and that she herself even took a year off after her 8th year. I'd like to think that I'm superwoman and that I can beat burn out, but I'm not sure what to do. I suppose my question is what are some tips to help me get through this slump. Also, do you have any tips on what to look for in my next position? I currently have a PRN job that I've been at for a while but doesn't offer any full time spots at this time. So, I have time to look, I'm just wondering if you can help me during the search.

    I always love reading your sage words of wisdom and I truly value your opinion. Any advice is appreciated.

    Dear Anxiety Attacks Before Work,


    I'm not sure you are suffering from burnout. You still love your job and your patients.


    You are having trouble making decisions, having anxiety, and what sounds like may have been a panic attack. See your doctor to rule out other conditions, including depression, which can often be easily treated. Sometimes depression can be triggered by other changes and events in your life.


    You have experienced poor management and understaffing in your most recent jobs. Leaving your job after one month shows you know when to get out, and you recognized a bad situation. Now you must learn to screen for those kind of work environments when you apply and interview.


    For example;
    Is the facility reputable?
    Can you job shadow for a shift?
    What is the staffing?
    How high is turnover? and so on.


    With 5 years of experience, you have a solid background. Don't make any decisions about RN school until you are feeling better.


    Best wishes,


    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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