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Burned out

MICU   (701 Views 11 Comments)
by emmjayy emmjayy, ASN, RN (Member)

emmjayy is a ASN, RN and works as a Medical-Surgical ICU Nurse.

7,042 Visitors; 472 Posts

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I've been a nurse for 9 months. Started off in a MICU. I just feel so burned out. I've been off orientation for a little over 3 months. I feel stupid 99% of the time. I just had two bad weeks in a row, with poor patient outcomes (one through no fault of my own, another because my pt went from fast asleep/sedated to self-extubated in literally less than five minutes while I was in another room), stress, drama with patient's families, and dealing with mid-levels who truly take pleasure in acting like jerks (this is not just my opinion because I'm upset, both providers I've been dealing with have a reputation on the unit for being intentionally mean/rude to staff nurses). I feel so dumb and like I shouldn't be on the unit. I have had great feedback from my management, co-workers, etc., but I always feel like I'm one dumb error away from a disaster. This week just reinforced for me that I work at a job where the slightest bit of inattention can result in someone dying and I just don't feel like I can handle it anymore. I had a literal panic attack on my drive home from work the other day and the only thing that made me calm down was telling myself I didn't have to go back because I have a couple days off. 

I have spent my days off looking at other jobs, but I just don't feel like any other nursing job is going to make me feel less stressed. I could never handle the patient load on a regular med-surg floor. Our progressive care unit is a horrible place to work. I always used to want to be a labor and delivery nurse, but I don't think I can handle the stress of that, either. I truly feel like being in an outpatient setting might be best for my anxiety and how miserable I feel, but I can't afford to take the pay cut right. I just wish there was an easy answer and I'm dreading going back to work. 

I guess I'm looking for suggestions about how to cope better so I can get through the next few months and at least make it to 1 year at this job. Suggestions about jobs where my training might be applicable but the work would be less stressful would also be nice. 

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1,569 Visitors; 32 Posts

I've found that it takes 12 mos to feel ok, and 1.5 to 2 years to feel comfortable.  My vote is to hang in there, but not if its affecting your health.  Just know it won't last forever and one day it'll just hit you :)

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emmjayy is a ASN, RN and works as a Medical-Surgical ICU Nurse.

7,042 Visitors; 472 Posts

On March 2, 2019 at 3:54 PM, isis07734 said:

I've found that it takes 12 mos to feel ok, and 1.5 to 2 years to feel comfortable.  My vote is to hang in there, but not if its affecting your health.  Just know it won't last forever and one day it'll just hit you 🙂

Thank you for your kind response! I felt much better after having a few days off and I'm in the middle of a stretch at work right now and doing okay. I've been assigned to some less challenging patients the past couple of days (in the sense that they aren't imminently about to code) and that has been nice. I do think I'm going to stick it out at least until I get my BSN/CCRN at the end of this year and reevaluate my feelings then 🙂

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Hang in there! You will learn from each experience. 

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I would inspect your work life balance, as a preceptor, nursing instructor, and practicing nurse myself, I find that most of my peers who experience burnout is not because of the job itself but because they have "at home" issues and also "at work" issues and so they are in a constant state of stress every waking hour. They may not have control of the life issues but the work issues can be resolved by quitting, big mistake. There was something that brought you to ICU, perhaps the acuity, the need to have the experience for graduate school, the continuous learning, the bragging right, the training to do travel nursing...something. My advice is always to do two things: 1. Resolve the at home issues and decrease your out of work responsibilities or 2. Work less hours if financially feasible. Do some introspection and analyze your stress tolerance and whether critical care is what you want, if so why do you want it?

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emmjayy is a ASN, RN and works as a Medical-Surgical ICU Nurse.

7,042 Visitors; 472 Posts

55 minutes ago, AGRN152 said:

I would inspect your work life balance, as a preceptor, nursing instructor, and practicing nurse myself, I find that most of my peers who experience burnout is not because of the job itself but because they have "at home" issues and also "at work" issues and so they are in a constant state of stress every waking hour. They may not have control of the life issues but the work issues can be resolved by quitting, big mistake. There was something that brought you to ICU, perhaps the acuity, the need to have the experience for graduate school, the continuous learning, the bragging right, the training to do travel nursing...something. My advice is always to do two things: 1. Resolve the at home issues and decrease your out of work responsibilities or 2. Work less hours if financially feasible. Do some introspection and analyze your stress tolerance and whether critical care is what you want, if so why do you want it?

It's funny that you commented on this today... I am actually now in the process of looking for other jobs due to witnessing a major ethics violation at my current job. I would like to report the violation, but am sure that doing so will cause me to need a new job and I'd like to have something new lined up before I take the plunge. I think I am not cut out for the emotional stress of working in the ICU, on top of the moral distress that I am now experiencing. By the time I have a new job lined up, I will be at my year there anyway and a year of critical care experience is likely to take me a long way.

I am looking at non-critical care jobs. I think I need something where I will see positive patient outcomes more often - I'm concerned about how jaded I feel regarding death and suffering. Recently I've had a couple of patients who were alert, doing well, and who I was able to talk to, connect with, and comfort meaningfully and it reminded me of how great nursing can be. One of them ended up having a poor outcome and I just was so upset by it - but it felt nice in a way to actually have feelings about someone dying rather than shrugging it off and hustling to get the room clean so I could get the next crash and burn admit from the ED. I've gone from being thrilled to go to work to consistently feeling depressed, upset, and exhausted at the thought of having to go in - to the point that my last day off before re-starting work gets ruined. I feel like such a stereotype for being so burned out and jaded after such a short time in the ICU, and it feels weird because I think the unit is honestly a great fit for the way my brain works and my detail-oriented personality. But, I am going to have to find that somewhere else because I can't see myself being happy and healthy in this job long-term. 

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Snatchedwig is a LPN and works as a LTACH.

241 Visitors; 56 Posts

Friend your a new nurse. You are experiencing what we all felt. The fact that your coworkers and management see your worth, it makes me wish you saw it too. The great thing about this forum, you get to connect with nurses from all forms. Specifically, tell me how you destress after work and on days off?

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emmjayy is a ASN, RN and works as a Medical-Surgical ICU Nurse.

7,042 Visitors; 472 Posts

2 hours ago, Snatchedwig said:

Friend your a new nurse. You are experiencing what we all felt. The fact that your coworkers and management see your worth, it makes me wish you saw it too. The great thing about this forum, you get to connect with nurses from all forms. Specifically, tell me how you destress after work and on days off?

Thank you for this response.

I destress immediately after work by talking to my significant other and going to sleep. I work out, try to hang out with friends, do some self-care steps like planning little trips or getting my nails done, and hang out with my kiddo when she gets out of school. Now that the weather where I live is improving, I'll go for a walk whenever I can and I'm getting a puppy soon who will force me to go for walks every day. I think part of the issue might be that I'm switching back and forth between days and nights and have a very unpredictable schedule without a lot of stability, but I'm switching to straight nights soon to see if that helps. 

I definitely can see that I've grown as a nurse and that I have a lot of skills and even some competence that I certainly didn't have before but I just feel so tired all the time! I honestly do enjoy a lot of things about work once I arrive and get started, but I dread going if that makes sense. 

Edited by emmjayy

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Snatchedwig is a LPN and works as a LTACH.

241 Visitors; 56 Posts

On 4/8/2019 at 9:49 PM, emmjayy said:

Thank you for this response.

I destress immediately after work by talking to my significant other and going to sleep. I work out, try to hang out with friends, do some self-care steps like planning little trips or getting my nails done, and hang out with my kiddo when she gets out of school. Now that the weather where I live is improving, I'll go for a walk whenever I can and I'm getting a puppy soon who will force me to go for walks every day. I think part of the issue might be that I'm switching back and forth between days and nights and have a very unpredictable schedule without a lot of stability, but I'm switching to straight nights soon to see if that helps. 

I definitely can see that I've grown as a nurse and that I have a lot of skills and even some competence that I certainly didn't have before but I just feel so tired all the time! I honestly do enjoy a lot of things about work once I arrive and get started, but I dread going if that makes sense. 

Sorry about the slow response, ive had a incredibly stressful week with school. Anyhoo, what you said is awesome. I love how you are pampering yourself because you DESERVE it. The time change you are going through because of work is def not helping you, that itself can cause more stress. How much sleep do you get when you alternate from days and nights?

 

The new nurse blues is a thing in my eyes.

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emmjayy is a ASN, RN and works as a Medical-Surgical ICU Nurse.

7,042 Visitors; 472 Posts

On April 11, 2019 at 7:56 PM, Snatchedwig said:

Sorry about the slow response, ive had a incredibly stressful week with school. Anyhoo, what you said is awesome. I love how you are pampering yourself because you DESERVE it. The time change you are going through because of work is def not helping you, that itself can cause more stress. How much sleep do you get when you alternate from days and nights?

 

The new nurse blues is a thing in my eyes.

I do try to get 8 hours of sleep no matter what shift I work, but it's tough committing to that when I'm on night shift because then I feel like all I do is work and sleep and then I hate my life. I usually sleep two-three hours after night shift, get up and hit the gym, and then go back to sleep for a few more hours because I have to do something to feel like I'm more than just a nurse who sleeps and works all the time! 

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I was a relatively new nurse when I transferred to ICU. Reading your story reminds me 100% of mine, except I only lasted 4 months. Even if I had a stretch of 5 days off, I still constantly dreaded the idea of having to go back. I cried almost every day driving in. I had so much anxiety. Now, I did get a cruddy orientation, but I also realized very quickly that I just wasn't cut out for it. So, yes, some of it may be that you're still a new nurse, but some of it may be that you're not cut out for it either. And you know what? THAT'S OK!!!

The biggest joy that I found in the world of nursing was oncology (something that NEVER crossed my mind before I saw a job opening at an outpatient clinic and applied).

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