Feeling frustrated/embarassed...want to quit nursing...

  1. I have been a nurse about a year and a half..graduated with an ADN in 12/2011 and returned to school in 8/2012 for an RN-BSN online program. I just finished my BSN this month but have found that in my time working in the "real world" as a nurse, I am disappointed in my career choice so far. I started off in oncology on a bone marrow transplant unit..3:1 ratio..progressive care..a great group of coworkers but I was mostly depressed. Patients were very sick, many would die..I couldn't grasp my passion, my manager sucked, and decided to transfer. I got a job at the same hospital in a Level III NICU..I was so excited..I did a 10-week externship in school in a Level II NICU and really enjoyed it and felt very passionate. But I am almost done with orientation in this Level III NICU and I feel I am back at square one.

    I dread going to work..not because I am lazy but because I feel unprepared and I don't feel passionate about my job. I am constantly stressed and exhausted and am terrified of making a vital mistake. I feel like nursing is sucking the life out of me sometimes and I am hoping it is just a phase but I see many nurses griping and complaining about the field and nursing in general (seasoned nurses mostly) and many girls my age going on for advanced degrees to get out of bedside nursing altogether. I am bombarded with information and feel like a fish out of water.

    I cry when I leave work because I want to love this job and this career choice..but sadly, the honeymoon is over and I feel like I am "stuck" in nursing. I love helping people and occasionally have a few good shifts here and there..but overall nursing is not what I expected or dreamed of when I started school. And no, I did not paint a pretty picture..my mom has been a nurse for 20+ years as well as my aunt. I have heard the good, bad, and ugly. I am drawn to nursing..but feel now, maybe I enjoy it from an outside perspective rather than doing it myself. I thought the patient population was the problem but now I am worried that it is just me.

    I commend all the nurses out there who bust their butt every day without complaint..I don't think I have it in me to keep going. I feel like I have lost myself and constantly think I would do things differently if I had the chance. I dream of going to a job that I enjoy..I realize every job sucks sometimes but I see people who say they love what they do and I had high hopes that nursing was the career that would make me feel this way but it hasn't. I am young enough, without children and I am unmarried and have a supportive boyfriend..my family is mostly supportive in anything I do..but I feel embarrassed to admit that I might have made a poor career choice when I started college. I feel like maybe I chose my career for my mom and not for me..or that I was not sure and picked something that I liked but wasn't sold on.

    I want to stick it out in hopes my opinion will change with time and experience but I am afraid that will never happen and years of my life will be wasted being unhappy. I am also afraid of simply giving up when I have invested years and thousands of dollars into this education and field. I am just wanting to vent but also looking for guidance. Has anyone else felt this way? Did it get better? Did you leave nursing? Do you still want to? Is it worth sticking things out to see if have a change of heart or should I stop wallowing and simply take a leap of faith at something else?? I am so confused and frustrated with myself...and I know I could be a great nurse..but if I am not passionate, why do it? I am not trying to sound ungrateful..I am thankful I have this job and education and I was able to make this choice..but I want to be happy! Any advice??
  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   Puckerup78
    Hmmm...Sounds like you may be on point with why you made the decision. But do not lose hope you are in a field with many options bedside may not be for you. Pray first about it go in with this is a stepping stone attitude start applying for education jobs that takes you away from that bed....You can be a case manager, Educator,etc seems like you need to grasp that masters and go on and start teaching that may be a better option your investment is not lost. You may want to do travel assignments to so that you can have variety...God's Blessings
  4. by   not.done.yet
    Honestly? I am not sure if you made a wrong career choice or if you just need more time to start feeling like you have a grasp on your job. You have gone from one intense, high stress specialty to another and they could not be more different. The base knowledge cross over was pretty much zilch. Therefore you stated all over again with nothing really to carry with you other than a willingness to learn. You are absolutely immersed in a world where you are barely competent yet. How can anyone feel passionate about that when you are awash in anxiety and an inner sense of just not quite being "good enough" and the stakes so high?

    Take a deep breath.

    You sound like you are just coming into your own. Your words are intelligent, your thoughts pertinent and logical. You sound like you have everything it takes to be successful as a nurse but are mourning the idea that nursing is a job that requires and to some degrees should provide passion and purpose. That is simply the meeting of reality to idealism. That doesn't mean you were rosy or unrealistic, just inexperienced. You CAN weather this. A job is a way to earn a living, even being a nurse. Even being a NICU nurse. The sense of passion can only come with a sense of being successful. You don't sound like you feel very successful right now. You sound anxious and disillusioned. Passion and purpose are not magical emotions that just happen, like some drugged reaction naturally born out of certain situations and outcomes. They certainly aren't automatic. They must be pursued. It sounds to me like you have very high expectations of yourself. This means the very natural learning process of becoming a nurse is frustrating and demoralizing, as you gauge your success on your ability to not only know stuff but to be able to access and demonstrate your knowledge. Your passion is fueled by feeling successful. It can be hard to feel successful as a new grad and even more so in a tough specialty.

    I challenge you to try reframing your thoughts. Did you comfort a family? Did you teach them anything? Did you remember to check a lab or access a protocol? Little triumphs need to take on bigger meaning for you. When you enjoyed NICU in school what did you enjoy about it? All of that is still there. You just have a bigger picture now. Let those things be what you ruminate on when you aren't at work. When you are feeling inept and self critical, find the small triumphs and give them air time in your head. And when not at work, don't be at work. Exercise. Hang with friends. Make love. Recreate. Pray. Decompress.

    You sound like you have everything it takes to me. I hope you stick with it.
  5. by   llg
    Please read the previous post by not.done.yet multiple times. It is incredible. Print it out and read it at least once each week for a long time. It is that great.

    Successful and satisfying careers are made -- built bit by bit. They don't rush into you and fill you up with joy automatically. As not.yet.done pointed out, you are tired and burned out by the all the stress you have gone through over the past couple of years as you have tried to master 2 complex specialties while simultaneously going to school. You need a break in the stress level!

    Back off a bit, chill out, solidify your compentence, and focus on developing a well-rounded healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy work/life balance and fun stuff. Give your career (and your adult life) a little time to gel before making any big decisions.

    Because there are some people who are "gushy" in their emotional committment to nursing, I find that a lot of new nurses expect to feel "special" when they become a nurse. It's as if they expected there to be a glow surrounding them and to have this rush of chemicals inside that makes them "know" that this is their passion for life. It's like the shows where the women buy wedding dresses ... they all want a magic moment when they cry and "just know" this is the dress for them. That's not how real life usually works. In real life, most of find work we can live with believing that it is a good thing -- with no magical rush of emotions about it. We build a successful and satisfying career over time, having set-backs as well as triumphs, bad days as well as good ones. Gradually, over time, we realize that we HAVE a good career ... and if we are lucky, we find a few things to be passionate about along the way.

    Relax a bit and enjoy the journey.
  6. by   malamud69
  7. by   hubb
    epic advice!
    I agree, print this out and read daily before going to work
    THANK YOU for this.
  8. by   HouTx
    BRILLIANT RESPONSE by Not.Done.Yet!!!!

    I just wanted to add - I'm a critical care nurse / educator - and I have discovered that there are some patients that I just can't 'deal with'. Oncology patients just take the wind out of my professional sails. I get depressed about their disease trajectory, amount of suffering, odds of positive outcomes, etc. And the only critical care area that completely stressed me out was NICU - due to ethical issues.... now known as "moral distress". So, I can completely understand how these areas could also affect the OP.
  9. by   Barnstormin' PMHNP
    I think not.done.yet's post should be a sticky somewhere on this site, preferably in multiple areas. Very astute and wise......I think it is the best post I have read.
  10. by   CrunchRN
    Try a non-acute care job before you bag it.
  11. by   MadamPomfrey_
    Wow, I could not relate to you any more! I have been a nurse for a little over a year. I worked on a Stepdown Unit for 3 years total -- while in nursing school as a unit clerk and CNA, and then as an RN right after passing my boards. I worked there as a nurse for about 8 months (including 3 month orientation) and it was quite an easy transition since I knew the floor, the staff and how critical the patients were. Although it was stressful and understaffed. Nurse-patient ration should have been 3:1 but was almost always 4:1 due to staffing and I felt burnt out quickly. I knew that the NICU was where I always thought I wanted to work after seeing it in during one of my clinical in nursing school. So I applied to another hospital with a level III NICU, submitted my resume, did so well with my interview and got a full time job in the NICU. I was so so so excited, happy, and proud. I had a three month orientation, which it was extended two weeks. And so far I feel the SAME EXACT WAY. Yes I do have good, slow nights with less critical babies, but then I also have horrifying nights where I'm so afraid to make a vital mistake. I am SO hard on myself and have such high expectations. I was so confident working as a nurse where I used to be and I just keep comparing myself to how I was there even though these are two totally different areas of nursing. I am always so afraid to make a mistake. I stress so much about being a good nurse and being successful at this specialty, stressing about it both at work and at home. All I think about now is did I make the wrong career choice? I am 23 years old with a BSN. I've wanted to be a nurse since I was 13. Now the thought of being a nurse just stresses me out and discourages me. I feel so down about myself and have zero confidence left. Please tell me what ended up happening. I know this was three years ago but I hope that you had a positive outcome. I cried as I read your post and then cried more as I read that one amazing response.
  12. by   MadamPomfrey_
    If anyone was wondering how it is going for me,
    I just wanted to make a reply to my last comment!
    Here I am now 2 and a half months later still working in the NICU and I am loving it. I have gained so much confidence and am feeling less freaked out. All I needed for this to happen was to have a few difficult assignments to throw myself into it all, and I have learned so much. I learn and grow each night I work and I am feeling so proud of myself. New NICU nurses are like preemies in a way, we start out knowing very little, just the basics. And with each day we grow,develop, and become stronger and better. And yes,there are bumps along the way. I am so glad I persevered and believed in myself to get myself to this point. I still have so much more to learn and i am excited to see what the future holds!