After 15 years - I may be one more nurse to add to the shortage


I am writing this totally heart broken and at my wits end.

I started my career as a nurse receiving compliments on what a good job I did. I felt that I was one of those people that had to do my job well and couldn't settle for any less. I had to chart well and provide the care that patients and families were more than satisfied with. They had to know they could count on me and that I was going to be there for them.

After 15 years and multiple hospital settings I have come to realize that it doesn't matter. Over the years, I have witnessed that many of hte units are run by managers and assistant managers that couldn't handle floor nursing and yet their demands on their employees are unrealistic. The people that they choose to be in charge and manage the floor are picked based on friendship and loyalty rather than hard work.

I have worked side by side with techs who run the unit and force nurses to do their work while they find time to sit on the internet or phone and then get out on time while we are stuck over finishing our work. I have walked into many patients rooms to pass pills only to find they had no water, haven't been turned or need urine emptied from urinals or pans that are overflowing. I can't tell you how many pans I have see stained with urine or feces because they don't get rinsed. How often patients are tied up in lines and cords.

I find myself picking up the slack and doing all of the jobs that countless others do not. Why can't people untangle lines? Why aren't pans rinsed from urine or feces? Why won't the techs do tech jobs and make sure people have water or that other needs are met?

In the end, what you get is punished. Punished because you couldn't get your work done. Punished because you couldn't meet everyone's needs and a patient or family felt you took too long to get to them and there was nothing you could say or do to make it right when you knew in your heart that it wasn't your fault. Instead, the blame is on the fact that there is too much for you to do or there is a major imbalance of productivity amongst workers.

The reason for the nursing shortage? Overworked and not appreciated and abused. You can't stick up for yourself, you can't tell them why you couldn't get things done - you can't say nothing. 15 years and nothing to show for it. I have tried nearly every hospital around and I find the negative complainers and the staff that knows how to socialize are the people that are respected and appreciated. It's not about the people that are out there busting their tails. Everyone knows there is a shortage and why but no one does anything and the biggest culprits are the administrators of the hospitals. The majority of those couldn't handle floor nursing or hardly ever experienced it at all.

I leave behind a lot of families and patients that thought I was a great nurse. But when you can't please one in a hundred or more you are a bad nurse. People don't understand the level of demands on a nurse. It is a downright abusive field with little to no appreciation surrounded by many people who are disappointed with their jobs and their choice in the career.

My final blow: After 3 years of sweating to please my last employer and taking the abuse of never hearing anything good - only bad. I went back to agency and went back to a hospital that I worked at 3 years ago. I knew that this hospital had a bad reputation for poor bedside care. Half the staff of any unit could easily be float and agency. The regular staff on the floor was made up of mostly young girls in tight spandex and inviting clothes working on socializing with doctors and hanging out at the desk all day long. Call lights were on non-stop but these girls would not answer them. The techs were busting their tails here. The agency nurses were working but the in house floats were sitting and socializing too. I ended up with a patient with a very bad attitude that was a complainer and law-suit happy. She was furious that for 4 days not one person followed through with obtaining her records from another hospital. It fell on me. I also had a patient admitted with respiratory distress which she shared a room with and could see I was busy. With her personality, she was angry at the moaning of the elderly lady who couldn't breath and was determined to get me to stop and cater to her to get on those records. When I got my respiratory patient stablized, I did just that. Turns out that the other hospital never received any fax requesting the information. This lady hated every person she had contact with at that hospital and wanted to call an agency to get them shut down. I'm sure you know the type by now. So....guess what. I was told today that I was not welcome back because of her complaint. I would literally pull a chair up and sit next to this lady and let her vent. I gave her my heart and I got booted. The nurse that she had the next day was a guy that sat around socializing and didn't care one bit about her. He was regular staff and he was NOT going to go out of his way. They all get to keep their jobs but the nurse that took the time out to take care of her is out the door.

I need a job or I wouldn't take the abuse. But, I know for a fact that this hospital is never going to get it. They were like that 3 years ago and now they have more floats and more agency staffing them. This is a big and reputable hospital.

The hospital I worked at for 3 years was dumping more and more tasks on the nurses and they were all unhappy and complaining. We lost good hard working techs and they were replaced with people who didn't want to work or nursing students who were tired when they came to work and were kicking their feet up taking it easy. Management loved those people.

I suffer from spinal degeneration and pain and I never get to sit down. My job is harder because they are not pulling their weight.

There is nothing left. I still owe for my loan and I am scared to death to take another nursing job. I know it is not going to be any different. I hurt. I lost my insurance and after all that I worked for I have nothing to show for it but bills and a destroyed ego and heart. I feel as though I am the misfit. I am the one who isn't right. I am wrong. I can't even bring myself to waste time on another application since I don't want anything to do with this career any more. I am going to lose my home, my vehicle and everything else.

I have noticed that the field is being taken over by young graduates who are more worried about looking sexy and socializing than working. Patient satisfaction has gone down the tubes and the senior skilled nurses are getting nowhere in this field. There is nothing anyone can do. We all know it is happening but we can't do anything about it.

I am totally defeated and hopeless.

TazziRN, RN

6,487 Posts

Try home health. I'm serious. I burnt out from the ER after 19 years and felt beaten down. I found my niche when I went into home health. I love it. I get to spend one on one time with my patients and make a difference.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.


Welcome to our forums, and thank you so very much for sharing your poignant story with us. Be assured that you can come here for support anytime. There is always precious light at the end of the dark, gloomy tunnel. The events that are presently unfolding in your personal life might look dismal, but if you're on the bottom, the only way to go is up.

I have no advice. All I wanted to do is offer my support. (((hugs))) :icon_hug:

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.

I'm so sorry that this happened to you, hon. :icon_hug:

I have no advice. I could easily be walking in your shoes in a few short years.

Please believe that you did make a difference for a lot of patients. You might've been the nurse who cared so much about patients that when I was a patient, I decided to become a nurse too.

Please don't think while you're doing your best that no one notices. That hospital lost a real treasure in you and I know they'll regret it.

jnette, ASN, EMT-I

4,388 Posts

Specializes in Hemodialysis, Home Health. Has 10 years experience.

i am so sorry to hear of your plight.

Yes, there are unfairnesses in life and work. Hold your head up high knowing that you did your very best.. appreciated by others or not.. what matters is that it matters to YOU. That YOU KNOW you gave your patients the time and care they deserved.

Please be careful not to paint all of nursing or all hospitals, managers, etc. with the same brush. It sounds like you've had some bad experiences, for sure, but just as surely, there ARE still some fine hospitals and managers out there. :)

Please don't give up on yourself or on nursing. Just a thought.. have you considered a switch from hospital nursing to another field of nursing? There are so many options out there. HH nursing, for example, might be far more suitable for you. Why not give it a try?

I'm sorry you're so discouraged.


367 Posts

They won't regret it. They haven't a clue. None of them due.

You will love this: My last job had only 2 nurses on their nurse retention committee and the things they were "allowed" to ask for had nothing to do with actual retention.

One request was a food cart for when we couldn't get lunch breaks. Come on! How about getting lunch breaks?

I knew there would be support here. I am totally done. I really can't do another application and put on a fake smile for the interview. I hate the field and I am so sick of working in pain and not being appreciated.

I did home care. My managers were a nightmeare there too. It didn't matter that my patients were pleased with me if one visit went wrong. And that would normally be a non-compliant patient that you couldn't please unless you gave them more than they deserved. People who complain and scam.

I was sexually harassed at a crack house and watched cock roaches run past my nursing bag one day. I drove for miles and miles and put 45,000 miles on a brand new car and had paperwork at the end of the day. I was having to get oil changes and tires rotated every time I turned around and my income went back into my car and it was worth nothing at trade in because of the miles. I had to roll over thousands of dollars of negative equity. Again, the management was the problem. You could never do anything right.


49 Posts

Specializes in M/S, Infectious Dieases, Pediatrics/NICU.

Hello, I totally understand. The hospital I work in has a unionized "service aides" position. Well they do nothing but a bed bath (for two of your 7-8 pts.) and maybe set up a tray and do vitals. That is all. I understand about getting burned out. I suggest that you find maybe another outlet in nursing. Maybe home health or a surgi-center? I am still a newbie and have yet to truly decide if I am going to stay where I am at or jump to ICU, but I can relate on the med-surg level.

HAng in there.


17 Posts

wow, i'm really sorry to hear that. i'm a new graduate and i'm hoping to have a wonderful and fulfilling career ahead of me. although i can't say that i understand how you feel, i think if i found myself in the same situation i would be unhappy also. have you ever worked in peds? i'm asking b/c i enjoy working with kids and maybe this would be a good change for you. i think you are a great nurse and knowing how good you are but being ignored can be frustrating. :icon_hug:


174 Posts

Specializes in med/surg.

So sorry you've had such horrible experiences... but please don't give up... maybe as a previous poster stated ou SHOULD look into home health... people do need caring nurses.

Please don't be quick to lump all new grads into the same category... I'm a new nurse & I'm working my tail off... however, it's just not possible to go to the lengths we'd like to to provide our pts with everything... I am married & the last thing I need is some MD... please take some time & try to find a niche that works for you... I hope you the best in whatever you decide to do... Good luck to you & know there are people out here rooting for you!!


367 Posts

I know you say they are not all like that. But, most of them are and that is the problem. I hear the same from other people in the field and I have been to enough places to see why there is a problem in this field and a shortage.

I go to work in fear. Fear of not being appreciated. Fear of not being safe. Fear of not getting things done. Fear of getting in trouble for things I had no control over. Fear of the intense stress of the shift. Fear of the negativity. Fear of having to work harder because there are co-workers that refuse to do their job.

I am in total fear of this job and the people that manage it.

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.
I really can't do another application and put on a fake smile for the interview. I hate the field and I am so sick of working in pain and not being appreciated.

I completely understand. Sometimes you just have to rest, regroup and reevaluate where you're going and what you want.


367 Posts

I know not all new grads are like that. I see many a new grad overwhelmed with the reality of this. Trying to get used to the job and do it right and be safe.

But, what I also see is that there are many units that are staffed with mostly agency and float nurses and the regular staff is very clicky and unprofessional and they aren't going anywhere.

They will continue to chase people off and their manager is their friend.

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