Nurses General Nursing


  1. is it normal to feel so disenchanted with nursing so early in your career?

    • 21
      yes, of course
    • 8
    • 5
      in time and with experience it will pass
    • 7
      maybe you need a career change

41 members have participated

i am a new nurse working on a psychiatric intensive care unit. i loved psych during my clinical rotation as a student nurse and i worked as a mental health worker till graduation. although i was discouraged to go into psych straight from school i knew there was no other nursing i would much rather do. when i received a job offer in feb 2001 i jumped at the chance. i was enthusiastic and ready to help people. now, almost 7months later, i find myself in a rut. i am not sure if it's due to the sometimes lazy staff or the ever revolving door. i am beginning to get frustrated seeing the same patients over and over again. i feel as though i am not contributing to this population as i should. i am beginning to question whether i made the right decision to even go into nursing. i worked so hard to get where i am and now i am feeling miserable. is this what you would call burnout?


1,091 Posts

Specializes in ER, PACU, OR.

because........to tell you the truth I'm not so sure? there are alot of varibles? How long have you been in the same unit or area? Same hospital? etc etc? The one thing I have noticed......at least in the ER, either most seem to hit the burnout/I'm going somewhere else stage after about 7 years. They head to PACU, amb surg, agency, GI lab, radiology, even cath lab......all places where your patient load is way less, and it's basically a controlled or one on one environment.

Just don't feel I'm capable of filling in the poll blanks with the answers supplied? sorry :o

me :)


5 Posts

thanks for being the only one who replied to me. maybe i'm just freaking out. i graduated from nursing school wanting to help everyone and i suppose i was just frustrated at the fact that some psych patients just do not want to be helped.

prmenrs, RN

4,565 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Infection Control.

When I got out of school, it took me quite a while to realize work is different from school!!!

e.g., in school, it's a new challenge almost every day! New procedures, a new rotation, new instructors, something was always changing. At work, after a while, it dawns on you that things don't change that much. At first, while you're trying to learn the routine, get oriented, put names with faces, etc., it's still like school, but once you have all that stuff down pat--you start thinking, "Hmm. Is this all there is?"

You may be at that stage now. Unless you change jobs and/or specialties frequently, or go back to grad school, it's called "work". I do NOT call that burnout, I call it reality.

Get to work reading everything you can about your specialty, go to conferences if you can, learn new techniques and try them out. If there is certification, go for it as soon as possible (some require a minimum # of years in the field before you can take the exam). In order for this career to STAY interesting, you have to start being self-motivated. Before there were instructors galore piling (sp?) on the reading assignments, now there's just you! See if you can find a mentor--is there someone who works there you admire?

Your degree and license gave you a job; making it a career is up to you!! Good Luck! I really wish you the best.

p.s.---REALLY didn't mean to get on a soap box, sorry.


951 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care.

I think one of the reasons your replies are few is explainable under the other poll--which area of nursing would you LEAST like to work in...Psych is topping the list. Many of us are unsure how to answer 'cause few of are psych nurses and many, like myself, would do anything BUT psych nursing. It's a whole different ballgame.

Were you in a more "medical" field of nursing, I'm sure you would have a zillion replies by now.

If I were responding to, for example, a new med-surg nurse, I would say "give it time." Your feet are barely wet (with unmentionable liquids, of course ;). Also, sometimes there are just bad runs...months where you have lots of really bad patients, lots of deaths, etc. And then you'll have a stretch of good things happening. It's cyclical. I have no idea how this relates to psych. My worst assignment is when I come to work (ICU) and find I have a 302'd Overdose/Suicide Attempt to take care of.

I hope you can resolve this uncertainly within yourself. I know it's very hard going to work everyday when you are questioning yourself as to where you belong.


1,091 Posts

Specializes in ER, PACU, OR.

You know Zee??????? I never thought about it that way.........and I think you hit the nail right on the head and buried in the wood!!!


5 Posts

You know I suffered burnout after I had been a Nurse for 18 years. I was stuck in a job where my supervisor overlooked me for promotions and inservice modules. And the sad thing about it was I wasn't even aware I was in burnout until I started getting out of the unit I normally worked in. I had gotten to a point where I was forgetting vital information, I didn't care if I was acls certified or not didn't really care if I was ever cpr certified or not. I didn't know when laws changed. I didn't even know about Clinton"s fmla law until janurary of 2001. I had to completely cahnge areas of the hospital and feel the people I worked with actually cared about my well being before I could start to make a come back. If you ever suffer burnout I pity you. It's a very miserable feeling and it takes literally nothing to send you back into it. The hard part is recovering from it. To prevent burnout I suggest a change of atmosphere. Work in a different area of the hospital or a different area all together for a while. Floating really helps to keep you from being bored. Prevention is the best policy.




97 Posts

NewpsychRN, I don't know if you have burn out yet or not... but I do remember vividly my first year of nursing. There were times when I was ready to pack it all in, feeling like I'd gotten in over my head, was an awful nurse and wasn't making any difference in any one's life. Sigh! I'd gone right into home care from school - against the advice of several nurses.

It helped me a lot to have a more experienced co-worker tell me that the first year is pretty much always difficult and a trying time. Give it the next few months and see if it's any different. If you quit every time you're feeling low, you'll never progress. I think it's kind of like being in love - if you break up after the infatuation wears off, you'll never discover the deeper joys of a life partner. My guess is that you are in a really normal place and need to give it more time to see if you are really not cut out for psych or if you've just hit a slump. Be gentle with yourself. Do something that is totally unrelated to work and gives you joy - take a walk, go out for coffee with a friend, pray... whatever. I think it's healthy for RN's to develop a selfish streak!


566 Posts

Specializes in ER, Hospice, CCU, PCU.

WE all went through periods of dissatisfaction. I have found through the years that one of 3 things will happen.

1. (least likely) With time you'll feel more comfortable..However from the sounds of your post, after 7 months I don't think that is going to happen with this particular position.

2. (more likely) If you stay you will become so frustrated and dissatisfied that you'll chuck it all. Not a good move so soon in your career, You worked hard to get where you are, don't loose it all with out trying something else in nursing.

3. (best option in my opinion) Look into something different within the field of nursing.. Now please understand that I'm an ER nurse through in through so my views are not objective. In saying that I would suggest you consider ER. Your Psyc. backround gives you an excellent advantage as a large number of patients we see have underlying psyc. problems. There is little time to get into a rut and there is always something new and different behind the next door. If that doesn't appeal to you you might want to look into outpatient psyc.

Best of luck in what ever you try. By-the-way all the way through nursing school I was sure I wanted to do Psyc. nursing. As there were no positions available at the time I found my way into ER, and have lived there ever since. During school, I would have never considered ER.

The biggest thing you need to remember is to take care of yourself. If you are unhappy and frustrated you can't give you patients the care they deserve no matter how good of a nurse you are.

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