Burnout before Nursing School?

Nurses General Nursing


Specializes in Critical care, Trauma.

I've been in the healthcare field for 3 years. I started off doing home health for private individuals and agencies, and then moved on to being a CNA and a CMA in a nursing home. For the last couple of years I've been really interested in nursing school. I'd done a few years in college majoring in Psychology and I was really excited at the idea of how different nursing school would be -- feeling like you actually learn things from experience and are challenged by more than deadlines for papers.

I've been burning out for a while, mostly due to the fact that I had for 6 months been the only one supporting my boyfriend and me when he lost his job. He was able to start working again in June which has helped a lot but, of course, it takes a while to get back on track financially after that long without working. I did a lot of 60 hour weeks for a while.

It's just been in this last month that the frustration has really taken over. I feel so overwhelmed at work. As a Med Aide in Assisted Living, we are treated as the charge nurses. We are expected to step in an help (as we should be) when our CNAs are not able to get things done. Normally this is not a problem, but in the last few months we've lost 5 people, most of which that were FT. Two people we hired less than 2 weeks ago are already either leaving or transferring. It's just getting so hard to keep people so the people that are left behind are so stressed, thus making them want to leave. I'm passing meds to 24 residents so I'm already allocating roughly 6 of my 8 hours a day just to doing that. The other 2 hours are usually divided between getting vitals, helping CNAs serve meals, testing the wanderguard doors, documentation, sometimes a 30 minute break, etc.

Though we are assisted living, a lot of our residents require more care than a lot of ALs would allow (at least that's my understanding, I've only ever done healthcare before). We have one gentleman that we get up and dressed every morning, we have some ladies that need help with 45 minute showers, and different things like that, so it's not a rare event for us to be called into a room to give extra assistance.

I'm getting so frustrated with myself because...it's like my patience and empathy is just gone. I used to love this business and now it's really hard for me not to get cranky when something puts me behind (which happens pretty often lately). I know that passion waxes and wanes but I'm not even in nursing school yet and I'm already feeling so wiped out.

I started doing pre-reqs this semester but I'm so stressed and expected to put in OT at work until we get more people so I am putting it on the back burner. Just 3 months ago I was sooo excited for nursing school (which I was hoping to start Fall 2011) that I could couldn't stand it, now I am really questioning if it's right for me.

I know burnout is common in nursing but...how do you come back from it? As you can see, taking time off is not an option. I don't want to quit, though there are days when I would give up a limb for a desk job where I never had to deal with people. I never last long in those jobs, though, because I don't feel needed! But right now I can't even enjoy my time off (this if my first full weekend off in a month and I'm too stressed to enjoy it!

It seems like lately all I do is worry, snap at people and cry.

How do you get your passion back for helping people?

Specializes in ER, ICU.

Have you ever heard the phrase "nurse heal thyself". You sound like you have classic burnout which you recognize and know why (which is good). I myself just decided to go part time, which means 2 12s a week instead of 3, and just the first week, because of my required weekend I had 8 days off in a row! I feel like a new man.

Even if it is a long term plan, you should come up with a way to back off your schedule. Your boyfriend owes you big. You should explain clearly to him what his time off has cost you, and he needs to step up and return the favor, either with a second job, or more OT. Maybe you can cut back on expenses for a time so you can study and get started on your classes. Even if you take a class, then take a session off and alternate you will be moving forward. Whatever works for you, find a strategy and make a plan. Talk to your boss and communicate your issues. And my advice is that if your boyfriend doesn't support you in meaningful ways to achieve your goals, he isn't fulfilling his duty to make your life better, not worse. (I hope I'm not selling him short, I've just read a LOT of posts here about living with an anchor, not a SO.) Best of luck!

Specializes in M/S, ICU, ICP.

you have my utmost empathy. i understand how bad burn out can be and it does not just affect your performance at work, it affects your entire attitude and lifestyle. realizing that you have hit a brick wall, burn out, is really half the battle. it causes a combination of frustration, anger, and depression. the passion and vision have gone out of the dream and i would think that you need to find something that excites and challenges you again. it sounds like you do love working with the geriatric population and i sense that you may also enjoy teaching and sharing.

staffing in long term care facilities tend to have a high turnover rate. often cna work is the lowest paid job of all especially in nursing homes. alf's are notorious for saying they do not take total care type patients but if the family is willing to wave the money under administration's nose to keep mom or dad there and "not in a nursing home" then they will turn their head the other way.

money talks and common sense walks.

first and foremost i would suggest stop working overtime. if your toe hurts because someone is hitting it with a hammer, the cure is not to keep hitting it with a hammer. set limits and boundaries and stick to them. a caregiver has to have a certain amount of "caring" for themselves in order to reach outward and share it with patients.

look for ways to meet your own inner care needs. so many of us have to work to stay afloat and live paycheck to paycheck, but is there a way to go part time or prn? is there a way to mix the floor work and direct patient care work with something less emotionally draining such as a desk job or teaching? cpr instructors are always needed and the course used to be a two day course for certification to teach. many places require all their employee's to be cpr certified whether it is a day care center, doctor's office, or a healthcare facility.

good luck and take care of yourself.

Your frustrations won't change once you become a nurse.

I am outraged at how my facility uses one nurse to 120 residents (because someone called in sick and they don't replace the person) then the poor nurse trying to care for 120 people gets disciplined because a 15 minute check wasn't performed on a resident in the area where the nurse called in sick.

The facilities cannot keep staff because it's horrible and the ones that do stay are getting fired for missing something because they are given way too many patients to be able to care for them efficiently.

Pick something else for a career! My sister does Respiratory Therapy and is doing great! She makes better money than I do as an RN and is much happier. She doesn't have all the bull that Nurses are going through these days.

X ray is a great area to get into.

Stop taking on more then you can handle. Make your boyfriend figure it out. Focus on your career, reduce your hours if possible and make your goal of becoming a nurse a reality if it is something you really want. The change will be painful but it will be worth it in the end and you will come out stronger and more confident in your abilities.

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