Advice needed! Burn out/possible career change


Hello all! I apologize in advance for the long post. I am an LPN in Virginia and have been nursing for a little over 6 years now. I started out in a family medicine office right out of nursing school. I have since worked a few different jobs, OBGYN office, another family practice, and now I am working as a care manager for a family practice but also am running their COVID-19 testing site.

When I first started going to nursing school, I'm gonna be honest, I was really only doing it as a stable career that would be earning decent money as I was 24, hadn't decided what I wanted to do, and was just itching to start a career already. I know a lot of people go into nursing for this reason and it's not always the best reason to go into nursing. But along the way, I've learned that helping people (especially those less fortunate) is really close to my heart. 

I did get kinda burned out a couple years ago and took a break for a few months and even had plans to start a new career by going back to school (not in nursing). But I eventually went back to nursing with a renewed sense of purpose. I've been considering going back for my RN (and then possibly my BSN) but I'm hesitant as I still owe a lot of student debt from my LPN and I'm so unsure what it is I want to do in the long term. And lately, I've even been unsure if I even wanna stay in nursing.

I've been feeling so unfulfilled and like I might have too much empathy if that's even a thing. I feel like I'm not cut out for this work. Like I have too big a heart. I know this may sound confusing. We obviously need more nurses with big hearts but it is extremely hard for me. It is depressing and frustrating. Our country's healthcare system is awful and seeing it first hand in the patients I interact with absolutely breaks my heart. It is a huge source of stress and depression for me.

For example, I had a recent absolutely heartbreaking case of a homeless person who is now facing a second BKA due to poorly managed DM (mostly due to them not being able to afford their medications and co-pays) and I completely broke down sobbing while reading their chart. I feel so frustrated that there really is nothing I can do to help them. My job is to call the patients and check on them post-hospital discharge, make sure they understand their discharge instructions, new medications, etc. But really, especially in this case, there is nothing I can do to better their situation. 

I promise I'm not trying to get political, but the way this country handles these types of situations is beyond frustrating to me and again, there is nothing I can do to help. I understand that listening to the patients and just being there for them is, in a way, helping. But this particular patient is going to die (very complicated case that I won't go further into) and it is, at least partially, due to our broken healthcare system. I feel like I can't do this job anymore due to this. It's gotten to the point where I feel I need to put my own mental health above the duties of the job. I already suffer from depression and anxiety and this job is only adding to it. 

But then I think that people with big hearts are exactly the type of people who should be in these positions. I always feel as though I'm not doing enough. I am the type of person that will be struggling to pay my bills but will still want to give any extra cash I have to the homeless person on the corner. I'm at a loss as to what to do. Especially because I am the main breadwinner in my house right now. If I do quit my job, whatever job I am able to get will be making significantly less than what I'm making now. We, fortunately, do not have any kids right now so it's just my husband and I. And I also kinda feel like if I quit, that makes me weak. 

I guess I'm posting on here for any sort of advice or maybe just confirmation that I, at the very least, should take a break from nursing or something. I don't know. I have no nursing friends to talk about this sort of thing with. I appreciate any insight or words of encouragement that anyone can give. 

Again, sorry for the long post!

Golden_RN, MSN

565 Posts

Have you looked at what other LVN opportunities in your area that might be a better fit for your personality and what you want to do every day?  I totally see how doing the post-d/c follow up would be so emotionally draining when there is little you can do individually to change the patients' situations.  Nursing has such varied opportunities and I just wonder if a different clinical environment might suit you.


41 Posts

I am so sorry you are going through this. I feel the same way about how broken our healthcare system is. It’s disgusting and disheartening. I get burned out because of this as well. When the burnout takes over, I take a few months to a year off from nursing and do something else. This has happened twice in my nursing career. During one break, I worked a retail job. The second break, I worked for an animal hospital. The veterinary healthcare system is just as broken by the way LOL