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Devastated and Disappointed

Nurse Beth   (4,974 Views 15 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

358 Likes; 10 Followers; 82 Articles; 224,919 Visitors; 1,694 Posts

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I am 26 years old and have wanted to be a nurse since I was at least 10 years old. I always pictured myself caring for and nurturing sick people back to health. I finished my RN in May of 2016 and will soon be finishing my BSN. I started as a CNA then LPN in a nursing home then moved to a critical access hospital as an RN and recently moved to the regional hospital on the cardiac step-down unit.

I am struggling. I feel myself quickly falling out of love with the profession and I can see my dream dying. My best is never enough. The next shift always wants something more, doctors are disrespectful, patients are rude and demanding constantly, all the while more and more work and charting expectations are being pushed on us each day. I am disappointed to think I will soon have a degree in a skill that I no longer feel passionately about. And I am devastated by the thought of leaving the only thing I have ever wanted to do.

Sometimes I think that maybe I am just working in a bad hospital (it is magnet status but still doesn't take very good care of staff) or maybe it is just the population in the area. I still have hope of things getting better and don't want to leave floor nursing yet. Is this what nursing has become everywhere? How do I find the right fit for me? If I'm in a bad hospital, how do I find a good one? If I'm burned out this early in my career should I be doing something else? What else could I do with my BSN?

Dear Devastated and Disappointed,

It sounds like nursing is not what you thought it'd be. And it's almost impossible to know what nursing really entails until you practice as a nurse. Many of us are drawn to the nurturing, caring aspect and it's a shock to realize nursing is a often series of urgent tasks with little time for reflection in between.

Those who stick it out reconcile their values with the reality of the working world. They recognize the good they are doing by applying their assessment skills, and how you can comfort a patient with a quick word or touch or even eye contact. They see the bad, but also the good that is there, every day, every shift.

Those who are unable to reconcile the two value systems suffer from the conflict. This is where you are at. If you choose to leave bedside clinical practice, you don't have to leave nursing altogether.

You have your BSN, and good experience. You can qualify for many other positions where you could use your BSN and still help people, but practice away from the floor.

Read Fleeing the Bedside for other job options.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and works as a Nursing Professional Development + Academic Facult.

242 Likes; 5 Followers; 57,546 Visitors; 12,974 Posts

Great response, Nurse Beth. I hope lots of people read it.

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Rainbow_RN is a ADN and works as a Staff Nurse.

1 Like; 1,291 Visitors; 67 Posts

I love this

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1,485 Visitors; 26 Posts

Please remember your experience on the floor as you go to a different possible management position. I feel many nurses in management forget the stress and strain of patient care. Increasing acquity and increasing patient load is leading to ever increasing disillusionment of nurses. Many times we hardly have the time to adequately address the needs of all our patients. By needs, I mean not just medication adminstration and ADL's, but reviewing their charts in depth, looking for trends in their behavior, labs, vital signs, and educational needs let alone their need to express their feelings and keep them safe. I often leave work worrying about my patient's mental,physical, and spiritual health. It's easy to feel like your inadequate and not good enough.

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Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

358 Likes; 10 Followers; 82 Articles; 224,919 Visitors; 1,694 Posts

Great response, Nurse Beth. I hope lots of people read it.

Thank you kindly

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lee113 has 6 years experience.

631 Visitors; 6 Posts

In your situation, I would consider taking the NICU post. It's a specialty of its own, and skills learned there will be somewhat of an asset in a future L&D job. Of course, I say this as someone who never worked in women's health or maternal-fetal health. I understand your disappointment, though. My first new grad job interview was for a CVICU job at a community hospital. I was the only one out of all my classmates who had applied who didn't get a job offer. The other 4 students got the job. Years later, I am an ICU nurse, with cardio/pulmonary and neuro experience. I consider it that hospital's loss.

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30 Likes; 1,226 Visitors; 119 Posts

In your situation, I would consider taking the NICU post. It's a specialty of its own, and skills learned there will be somewhat of an asset in a future L&D job. Of course, I say this as someone who never worked in women's health or maternal-fetal health. I understand your disappointment, though. My first new grad job interview was for a CVICU job at a community hospital. I was the only one out of all my classmates who had applied who didn't get a job offer. The other 4 students got the job. Years later, I am an ICU nurse, with cardio/pulmonary and neuro experience. I consider it that hospital's loss.

This is exactly what I was thinking! All the NICUs I've worked at have been very well staffed, the doctors are nicer (not perfect but no one is) and I've gotten lunch and bathroom breaks! There can be some nurse-to-nurse snarkiness in big city NICUs, but that can happen in any unit.

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2,420 Visitors; 62 Posts

Another tragic epitaph due to the failure of the system to address the causes of nurses burn out and. the high washout rate. Studies have identified a rate from 30-50 percent by the 5th year. New nurse's exit their first job 60 percent in first year. Often identified as the chief cause is the direct manager. To date you cannot get this discussed at professional conferences. Just in the last few weeks I have attempted to contact speakers who have abuses of power in the description of their seminar. At first I was so excited that it might actually happen. I even posted it on blogs. Looks like I will have to pull the reigns on my excitement as my inquiry to get clarification has gone unanswered. When the topic of managerial abuses of power has been raised by me and others we are ignored or misled. Our new nurses deserve a better chance at succeeding. There is no accountability for abusers. Not even at a so called Magnet hospital in this case. I have experienced that, too. Perhaps it awaits them when they become aged and are patients staffed by what is left of the workforce depleted by their abuses.

Edited by rnpatrick
Correct error

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judybsn has 40 years experience and works as a long term care.

1 Article; 5,661 Visitors; 79 Posts

Going to a casual on call position was all I could find to cure my burnout. It worked wonders. I still could work full time hours if I chose, but initially it helped to cut back.

Also working in a specialty like Labor and Delivery or ICU where the staffing ratios are better helps a lot if the fast pace of the floor is overwhelming. The extra training required is well worth the effort and expense. And as an added bonus the doctors treat you with more respect.

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582 Visitors; 37 Posts

Another story of ABUSE in the nursing field and another response that brushes it aside. "Those who stick it out reconcile their values with the reality of the working world. They recognize the good they are doing by applying their assessment skills, and how you can comfort a patient with a quick word or touch or even eye contact. They see the bad, but also the good that is there, every day, every shift."

First, while it may be a reality (and getting exponentially worse every year), abusive, disrespectful behavior, as well as dangerous working conditions (yes, these conditions hamper nurses' abilities to perform patient care) should NEVER be accepted as being okay or normal in any way. NO ONE should tolerate such treatment! It always amazes me that (usually other nurses) give the advice that it is somehow "a part of the job" to suck it up and accept this kind of abhorrent behavior.

Second, it is almost impossible to do your best (apply excellent assessment skills, for example), and provide any kind of comfort for patients when you are not able to take care of your own needs given such a toxic environment.

Third, coming from someone who is keenly aware of the difference between nursing and other kinds of positions, everytime I step back into nursing from spending time in my other jobs (writing/editing, teaching), it's like having a cold bucket of water violently thrown in my face. I never cease to be utterly stunned with the difference of how I am treated: As a writer/editor, I am respected and appreciated by both supervisors, colleagues and clients. I am given the opportunity, trust and freedom to be creative. My ideas are taken seriously. No one treats me with disrespect, let alone abuse! I am not bullied. The work environment is pleasant. I can take care of my physical needs like sleep and nutrition.

As a nurse, rarely does anyone listen to my ideas. I am not only disrespected by some supervisors, but other nurses are often like packs of hyenas - hostile, petty, gossipy, bullying and unbelievably insecure. I have witnessed countless hostile/abusive interactions between other nurses. I am the same person - whether writing or nursing; yet, the way I am treated is like night and day. As a writer, I am not expected to stand on my feet for 12 hours having only gotten 3 hours of sleep the night before...and STILL be able to write my best pieces. I can even take care of my bodily functions when necessary; e.g., going to the bathroom. I can eat (without having to gobble it down in 2 minutes) when I am hungry.

Nursing (specifically, bedside nursing) is one of the only - if not THE only - profession where its employees are treated like paid slaves. AND, most nurses (mostly women) think it is NORMAL to be treated so horribly. Talk about denial! DO NOT let ANYONE convince you that you should put up with ANY kind of incivility, hostility, bullying, disrespect, unreasonable expectations that will inevitable affect your physical and/or emotional well-being. It is NEVER worth the tiny bit of "comfort" you give patients. Take care of yourself first!

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