Having now worked in medical/oncology for 2 years, I think I'm starting to feel burned out. It's not that I no longer care or feel less energetic about my job. I go about it in the usual way, chat and laugh with my patients when I can, etc. But...I'm starting to get sick and tired of seeing dying people. I think back to all the people we have lost to cancer over just these 2 years and it's daunting. It's sad. It's depressing. And this is on top of the job being stressful enough due to the high complexity and acuity of oncology patients in general.
For the record, I'm not depressed. It's just that I miss the satisfaction of sending people home whole and relatively healthy. When I work with oncology patients, they just come back to us in a few weeks because they require more chemo, they've relapsed, they're sick because of the side effects of their treatments, etc., and I feel like with every admission back into the hospital, they get worse and worse until the inevitable end comes along, as it must.
What are some ways of dealing with this? I honestly don't know how nurses who have been working oncology for 10+ years have done it. I think that, with my next job, it won't be oncology. I think I'll try something else. But, for now, I'm here.
Jul 24, '12
I think it is a good idea to switch your specialty on occasion. I did it at one point as well. I think it helps you stay interested in your job and continue to learn. Good luck in finding your next venture!
Jul 24, '12
I agree. Most nurses use a medical floor as a stepping stone to other units. Nursing is a career that has many doors. A happy nurse gives the best care. Best wishes!
Jul 26, '12
I know how you feel. I have been working as an oncology nurse inpatient for about 3 years, full-time night shift. Some days are ok, other days is stressful, and other days it is depressing. I build bonds with my patients, get to know them, practically become friends and I can get emotionally caught up with the whole diagnosis, caring and dying. Often times I do question myself if I want to stay in oncology and go find another job, but at the same time though it has been tough I can honestly say that I still love my job and what I do. I guessing knowing I make a connection and help my patients the best I can to make their life a little bit better so they can spend a little more time with family and friends makes me happy.
Taking breaks from work help to relieve the caregiver stress. I like to take a little YOLO break/vacation/trip every couple months, go hiking and work out to relieve my nursing stresses and keep my sanity or else maybe I would of left oncology and nursing all together. I guess it does get easier dealing with the stress and coping with patient loss... not that you get numb to cancer losses, but you get stronger at handling it.