Jump to content

DON job is mentally stressful-should I stay or should I quit?

Nurse Beth   (140 Views | 0 Replies)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Writer Innovator Expert Nurse

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

19 Followers; 115 Articles; 238,148 Profile Views; 2,169 Posts

Dear Nurse Beth,

I have recently switched jobs after almost 10 years with the same employer. It was (so I thought) a well thought out decision. My past experience as an RN has been in Med/Surg and OR settings.

My new position is DON of a small public health. My reason for making the switch was many things. Personally I felt I wanted to get away from the drama and "social work" part of bedside. My last shift I had a patient's wife cuss me over the phone and demanded to be called with every lab value/ order/medication given, etc...Talk about icing on the cake! I also made the switch to try to gain a more regular home schedule. I went from three 12hr shifts, to now five 8 hr shifts.

When I made the switch I moved from hourly pay to my first salary position. I was offered a too low amount, I accepted a yearly amount that was a little more than initially offered, in order to meet the difference in the increased babysitter days I would have to pay for. When I made this decision I referenced my past W-2 amount. I made the mistake of not figuring in my hourly increase since the W-2. I actually ended up taking a pay cut. I did not realize this until I was in the position for almost 3 weeks!

In addition to the complete job change, I came in the middle of COVID-19! (Which was not yet happening when I accepted the position.) I have received no formal training at all. Just a “jump in and help wherever you can” type of environment. It has been mentally stressful to say the least. On top of the cut in pay, my hours have increased and I am working even on weekends. There is no additional compensation for any of it. There are no guaranteed pay raises in the future either.

I also miss my work family and working in the clinical setting. The main questions I ask myself are:
Is it just about the money? Is it worth the loss of pay?
Do I just feel uncomfortable? Will this place eventually feel like home? Or is it because my heart is not in this type of work and I’m really made for the clinical setting?
Will it look bad on me if I go back to the hospital before giving this job a full year?

I considered having an honest conversation with my boss and asking for a higher pay, but don’t know if that is appropriate. I don’t want to waste their time. I also don’t want to waste mine. If I do decided to go back to my previous job, I would like to give them a heads up before I even consider it, but also don’t want to run the risk of having a red letter on my back!
I thought decisions like this were supposed to get easier over time!! Looking forward to hearing your input!

Dear Undecided,

Congratulations for landing a DON position! 

You left your hospital job to get away from some negatives, more than to embrace a new set of skills and challenges. If you have a passion for leadership, it would make the new negatives tolerable. If you have no desire to be in leadership, there are other nine to five jobs, and in the hospital setting, which you miss.

Looking down the road, if you are drawn to leadership, this is an opportunity. Consider sticking it out for a year and then re-evaluate. In the long run, the pay will be higher than for a bedside clinician, and the job of bedside clinician does have a shelf life once your body begins to age past a certain point.

The negatives that are bothering you now are part and parcel of switching from bedside clinician to a leadership role. Nursing is notorious for not training new managers and directors. It's very often just as you describe "Good luck!" 

Typically in starting a leadership position with no experience and coming from a role with many years of experience, you do take a pay cut, although the pay ceiling is higher in leadership once you gain some experience. Transitioning from hourly to salary is a mindset change. The job is always with you, and you have 24 responsibility. There are definitely advantages to being salaried, such as leaving for a doctor's appointment or working half a day before you cut out for vacation.

If you decide to stay, ask for a raise. If you can find out comps in your area for a DON position in a small organization, that'll give you an idea of how much to ask for. In my first managerial role, I realized, like you, that I was actually earning less than I did at bedside.  I basically told my boss that while I loved the job, I couldn't afford it. I was about 5 months in at the time, and they didn't want to lose me and start over. I got the raise.

If you do decide to quit, give 4 weeks notice, but be prepared that they may let you go at the time. Have your next job lined up.

If you go back to your previous job, your current employer won't be pleased but the hospital will probably be thrilled to get you back.   

Best wishes in your decision,

Nurse Beth





Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

This site uses cookies. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Read our Privacy, Cookies, and Terms of Service Policies to learn more.