I transitioned out of nursing last August after 10 years of nursing. I thought once I walked away from nursing, that I would never think about it and it would become just a part of my past and just something that I did/another job. In my current area, I am completely out of nursing and healthcare.
The interesting thing is after the first month or so, I had this feeling and the best I can describe is a soldier returning home from war and nobody understands or could ever understand they things that were seen or done. People around me would stress about small things and all I could think, is this is nothing to stress about and would think about the stressful times on the floor (crashing patients, short-staff, etc). Lately, I feel like all the things that I didn't address in my nursing career (the death, the dying, the sickness, the caring, all those things in nursing) are coming back to me and it's overwhelming.
For anybody else that has left nursing (the profession), what was your experience?
I've been out of nursing exactly three years to the day. I never really meant to retire, but a series of mental and physical health issues combined to force me into it. To be honest, I don't really regret being out, because I was burnt to a crisp and too much has happened to nursing in recent years that make it unsuitable for me now at this point of my life. I am 58 years old and no longer want to be treated like a pack mule or a misbehaving third-grader by management. I have nightmares all the time about running around like crazy, forgetting about "that one patient" till the end of a shift or getting three admissions at one time. I guess you could almost call it PTSD.
But I'm also sad that I don't get to take care of people anymore. I loved being able to solve problems and fix things for them, and when I couldn't, I was almost always able to make them feel better about their situation. I miss doing the basic nursing tasks, too---I was great at both IVs and catheterization, and I knew how to make patients less uncomfortable about these invasive procedures. I miss the teamwork, the collaboration with other healthcare providers, even the black humor we used to cope with things most people never see, or want to see. That's why I spend a lot of time here at Allnurses, where I can learn about the newest evidence-based practices and so much more. It's hard to stay relevant when one has been out of nursing even as little as three years.
I'm reasonably certain I'll never work another day as a nurse. But I keep my license updated and take online continuing ed courses just for the pleasure of it...just in case I ever need the knowledge.
I might have to step away to deal with personal issues and I understand COMPLETELY. I tried to be a server again as this is what I did before becoming a nurse but complaints about cold toast or what is taking so long to seat us seem like such trival issues I am concerned I might TELL them this, lol. Once you have been in LITERAL life/death situations you learn not to sweat the small stuff. And as I am looking for work potential employers keep saying, "you are an RN-why are you here?" Trying to explain that dealing with people's lives is VERY taxing to your soul if you aren't caring for yourself (as I haven't been) but worried I am not getting call backs due to too much education,lol.
I retired at 62 in December of 2006. Up until last December my license was active, but I have been my husband's caregiver since 2014 and my time is spent mainly at home with him. He has early onset Alzheimer's, four mini-strokes, Diabetes and has difficulty ambulating due to advanced Neuropathy in both lower extremeties. I wish I had joined this site before I let my license expire, but trying to schedule the continuing Education courses were not possible while caring for his needs. I believe that as a nurse of 30 years it has given me the ability to be my husband's advocate and allows me to take care of most of his needs. He depends on me to keep him safe and inform him of medication uses and side effects and Dr's orders etc. It seems like a Umbudsman role at times. What we nurses have learned in all the years of nursing is invaluable to those who cross our paths that will benefit from our training. Enjoy your retirement and never define yourself by your degree but what you can be to others now. God bless all nurses!!
I just got back on this site after years being away. Silly me! Nursing has always been my calling. I graduated in '87 from school and have worked VERY interesting jobs and met inspiring patients and fellow nurses and physicians along the way. From Neuro-Science, ICU, Lyme Disease, general surgery, physician educator, supplemental staffing manager, nurse liaison, director AL. Love putting people at ease during invasive procedures and was considered a hand holder and the "go-to" for difficult sticks. Was it stressful...absolutely! Did I relate to PTSS....YES! Do I miss it? Yes and NO. I miss the interaction with the residents and their families. I miss my fellow workers because they were kind and listened when my heart was heavy. I don't miss administrators who don't do the right thing by putting residents first.
Nursing taught me compassion, not to sweat the small stuff, and to try to find the time to carve out of every day for myself. However, that isn't always possible for a million and one reasons.
I feel you when you said the feelings come back about patients, families, tasks, situations that were unbelievable to anyone not in nursing. I have "flashbacks" all the time but it is getting easier. Now it seems that they are just memories on my tapestry of life.
During my time away from this site I worked on a project that took ten years and that chapter just began in January of 2017. I invented a product to enable/empower women to stand to pee when faced with gross bathrooms, no bathrooms or to help while obtaining urine samples. I left my position as a nurse liaison to make this dream come true...helping one woman at a time.
Looking forward to staying connected to fellow nurses and to see what everyone is doing if they are no longer working in healthcare! Did you find something that fills your heart with joy? Are you struggling because you are out of your comfort zone? I would love to hear back from anyone who wants to share their story too.
Thanks very much and hope today is AWESOME!
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