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Desperate to leave the bedside, possibly even nursing entirely

by GenericUnicorn GenericUnicorn (New) New

Has 5 years experience.

I am in need of some guidance. I've been a nurse for a little over 3 years now and have been regretting my decision to become a nurse ever since my first anniversary as a nurse. When I first started nursing, I was excited and compassionate about my job. Now many days I cry on the way to work because I'm so unhappy. The stress, hospital politics, ungrateful patients and families, time away from family (weekends, holidays, vacations)...nursing just isn't worth it anymore. The only thing I can honestly say I love about nursing is knowing I only have to be there for 3 miserable nights each week and then I'm done until my next session in hell.

I feel trapped in this career because what else is there for me to do with a degree in nursing? I've been contemplating going back to school to earn a masters degree; the school I'm looking at offers a masters in nursing as well as a MBA. My family have offered suggestions of looking into getting a job at a doctors office. Most offices aren't hiring nurses, or only have 1 on staff to supervise all the unlicensed staff with no forecast for openings.

Any suggestions for non-clinical nursing (and how to get into that field seems to be the mind block for me) or even starting a separate career would be appreciated.

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

This question gets asked a lot. At least once a week. You might try doing a search or going through the "nursing career" archives to see the various suggestions.

I wouldn't delve into getting a Masters unless you know that you want to stay in nursing, because that will only add more student loan debt to worry about.

You have a solid few years of bedside nursing experience which is going to work in your favor. There is way more to ambulatory or clinic care than stand-alone doctor offices. Look through the openings of the major hospital systems in your area -- they probably utilize RNs in their clinic settings and/or as "nurse coordinators." Day surgery centers employ RNs. As do clinics that tend to be heavy on the procedural side like plastics and dermatology. Look for places that do eye surgery or dental surgery as they utilize RNs for sedation, recovery, and teaching.

Call centers employ RNs. Google Express Scripts or United Biosource. All of the major insurance companies employ RNs as case workers and sometimes for phone triage.

What about case management openings at the hospital you work at? Does the hospital have an infusion center? Cancer centers need RNs to give chemo to outpatients.

I used to dream about moving into a clinic position but never thought it was possible. Even the other nurses on my unit would discourage me, saying stuff like "oh nurses down in X all have at least ten years of experience..." so I never applied to anything and just grew more miserable. It wasn't until I couldn't work in bedside acute care anymore because of stipulations placed on my license that I applied to the clinic that I had always wanted to work for when I was doing acute bedside...and they hired me knowing that I was in a monitoring program for alcoholism and had stipulations on my license! If I can get a job like that, I am a firm believer that anyone can.

I'm sorry to hear about your bad experiences. You're smart to know you need a change. It'd be far worse to be in denial and taking your anger and frustration out on others.

There's an option you might consider, particularly if you live in a big city. A few months back, my health insurance company called and my caller was a nurse. Perhaps they thought I'd feel more comfortable dealing with a nurse. Perhaps the insurance company felt better having someone who knew health issues talking to me.

She didn't sound like she was part of a boiler room operation—you know the ones where you can hear the murmuring of others in the background. She might have even been able to work out of her home. And the work wasn't bad. She was, after all, representing my insurance company and not selling me anything. Mostly, what they wanted her to do was encourage me to get regular checkups. I happen to have seen my physician today and he said that insurance companies are doing more and more of that today, perhaps because they believe early detection saves them money.

I have no idea how to get into that or into related fields like taking health surveys for government agencies. And yes, I had one of those recently too, although she wasn't a nurse. In either case, you're using your nursing training and getting better paid for that, but not doing what you hate. For the most part, you'll simply be asking questions of people in relatively good health. That would be a big change from what you are doing now.


What confuses me is that you're considering getting a masters in nursing. That's a bit like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. You'll either be doing more of what you hate, or you'll be supervising nurses. The former won't help your frustrations. The latter will put you in situations where you'll in essence be saying: "I hate nursing, but let me tell you why you should love your nursing job." Somehow, I can't imagine you being happy doing that.

What you might do is something similar to what a friend of my was considering as she wrapped up her undergraduate college degree. She knew for certain that she did not want to become a physician, but was considering getting her MD just to have credibility when she did what she really wanted to do, which was get a PhD and do genetics research.

And yes, you're probably thinking, "How can she afford to do both?" I asked her that too. It turns out that her uncle invented one of the heart stents and along the way he let her parents invest in what had become a lucrative business. Her parents had no problem paying her way through as many years of schooling as she wanted. Yeah, some people had all the luck.

What I reminded her was that, in the process of getting her MD, she'd have to do a lot of training that she might both hate and that wouldn't help her when she eventually went into genetic research. That's a bit like your getting that nursing masters. You'll be diverted from whatever else there is that you'd enjoy doing just to get a credential. She didn't really need that MD. You may not need a MSN for whatever non-nursing path you pursue even it it is in health care.

If that whatever is administration—you mentioned an MBA—the go directly for the business angle. Your RN is probably enough to allow you to pursue an administrative or business angle in a medical context, perhaps managing the group practice of MDs, without spending more time learning skills you never use. A MSN won't add to that.

And yes, a lot of this depends on what that other thing you'd like better is. I could never manage a job that had me managing businesses finances. I don't even do a good job managing my own bank account. But if that—or something else—is what you'd enjoy better, then pursue it directly. Use your RN perhaps as an in to a job, but if you hate what RNs do, no amount of lateral moves within nursing is going to change that. Nursing is dealing with often unhappy sick people and working gosh-awful hours because they—ungrateful wretches that they are—insist on being sick 24/7 rather than just from 8 to 5 on weekdays.

I'm not sure if I helped, but I did want to warn you to move carefully, so you don't find yourself plunging once again into work you hate. Weigh carefully what you enjoy and build on it. If that makes use of your RN, then well and good. You'll get something from that investment But if it means writing off that schooling and experience totally, then the sooner you make that move the better. As they say, don't throw good money (in this case your time) after bad.

--Mike Perry

What areas of nursing have you worked in?

What are the top 3 things you like in your current job and the top 3 things you hate?

Why did you go into nursing?

n2biology, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case Management. Has 8 years experience.

Might I suggest case management?