Finally Leaving Nursing...For Good!

Nurses General Nursing


Well, I did it. I turned in my two weeks notice. I'm finally leaving the nursing profession, for good. I had planned to do this months ago, but I decided to persevere a few more months to see if my opinion of nursing changed. It has not. These last few months fully confirmed for me that nursing is not where I belong in healthcare. I applied, interviewed and shadowed in various other nursing specialties, including ICU, outpatient clinics, case management, oncology/hospice, dialysis, and even outpatient psych, and none of these were right for me. I thought my problem with nursing had more to do with my specialty (cardiac step-down) being the wrong fit for me, but now I know that I honestly do not want to be a nurse, at all.

Like most nurses, I dislike the short staffing, high nurse to patient ratios, the demanding families with their unrealistic expectations, needy, rude, and manipulative patients, patient satisfaction surveys, the increasing demands being placed on nurses, healthcare politics and drama, and so on. I know I'm not alone on this. But I dislike the basic elements of nursing, I don't like my role in healthcare with so much responsibility and so little power.

Surprisingly, I don't mind patient care. I have no problem cleaning up a patient, helping them to the bathroom, feeding them, or cutting a little old lady's food for her. I have no problem doing this. I also like collaborating with MDs and NPs (well, most of them), I enjoy learning from them and trying to advocate for my patients. I have been told I do very well with critical thinking and problem solving. I don't mind charting. I absolutely love my dementia patients. These are the few positives I have with nursing.

Now on to the negatives.

My biggest issue in nursing is resuscitating a terminally ill patient, not because it is what the patient wants (I would not have a problem with the patient's own decision), but because the family is selfish, unrealistic, and refuses to let go. I have had several instances where a patient in a persistent vegetative state, with a trach, peg tube, and no quality of life is kept full code by family, even though the patient is in that state because family insisted that "everything be done." :banghead: I have had several patients who died peacefully, were DNR, but family insisted that we "do everything" and we had to. I have serious moral and ethical issues with this.

On a smaller note, I'm a perfectionist, leaving work undone is extremely difficult for me. I dislike the routine of passing medications over and over again; how impossible getting everything done feels with 6 high acuity patient and the many issues and problems that come up; running around the entire shift with very little food and rarely my full 30 min break (considering that I've lost 10 lb since becoming a nurse, and I was underweight to begin with). Being genuinely uninterested in what I'm doing/learning as a nurse, while also feeling super stressed and overwhelmed. The lack of hard science in nursing also contributes to my lack of interest.

I also cannot stand dealing with constant issues for 12 hrs and "customer complaints" among the thousands of other things I need to do. I honestly dislike most of my patients (however, I never let this show). I absolutely hate talking with family members. I hate small talk with patients and dealing with patient/family drama. I hate getting blamed for everything (even if I have no control over it) and feeling like a human punching bag. I hate that I feel no connection or sympathy for 99% of my patients, and that nursing has made me see the worst in people. I always feel frustrated and angry. Every minute of my shift I hate it, and then I dread going back to work on my days off. Since becoming a nurse, I feel like I haven't been able to enjoy life anymore due to how much nursing drained me. After being diagnosed with anxiety/depression about 2 month ago (I was crying every day and getting to the point where I thought dying would be a relief - thankfully that has passed and is under control now), I realized I didn't want to live my life like this anymore, and for my physical and mental well-being, leaving nursing would be the best solution.

Since I've "officially" made the decision to leave nursing, I have felt better than I have in a long time. I feel alive again, like a weight has been lifted off my chest and I can finally breathe. I will always remember and value what nursing has taught me, but I sincerely believe that I am one of those people who is just not right for nursing. It does not mesh well with my personality, interests, and especially not my mental/physical health. I have the highest respect for nurses. Everyday, you are able to do what I cannot. I felt like a failure and a horrible nurse for a long time because of this, but I came to realize that it is best for myself (and my patients), if I find something else to do. I also realized that there is no shame that nursing is not right for me, as long as I did my best to take care of my patients, didn't let my disdain for nursing show, and continued to be a responsible and dependable employee while working as a nurse.

I'm going to be moving on to a new career, with no patient/family interaction and way more science involved (Masters in Biomedical Engineering). I'll still be around on allnurses because, well, I love you guys! :)

*Way Too Long to Read: I'm leaving nursing, it wasn't for me at all. I'll still be around. Nurses are awesome, thank you for all you do!!*

Specializes in ICU.

Good luck in your new life! By the way, my cat's name is Cocoa Puff!

Good luck in your new life! By the way, my cat's name is Cocoa Puff!

Thank you! I love the cereal, which is where I got the name ;)

Specializes in retired LTC.

Wishing you well in whatever your new endeavors bring you. Enjoy your new time. :up:

Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty.

The most sincere & well thought out exit post I've seen here cocoa_puff (full disclosure, we prefer Count Chocula at our house)

I've often wondered if I could have coped with the job had I started with nursing as it is today. I won't offer anything in the way of your possible options within the field as a whole as you've already been diligently exploring alternatives.

Your mention of disliking patients and families is a symptom of the other stresses you described. You're not and never were a horrible person.

All the best in your new career path.

Specializes in CMSRN, hospice.

Congrats! This is such a tough decision to make, and it sounds like you put a lot of thought into it and tried a lot of different things. I hope I will have the courage to follow you at some point, though there is at least one more type of nursing job I want to try before calling it. Good luck in everything that comes next! So great that you are moving forward!

Specializes in acute dialysis, Telemetry, subacute.

Good luck on your next career. You sound very sincere. Nursing is not for everyone. I almost left nursing last year until I found my niche as a hospital case manager. All the best.

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Wow! Is Masters in Biomedical Science a biomedical engineering major? Was just looking that up last night as something I was interested in pursuing over NP (no doctorate degree required). (NP does not require a doctorate degree but many programs have switched over to a doctorate degree and those programs have lost me).

Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

OP - I admire your integrity. Rather than continuing to take the path of least resistance - which would undoubtedly result in burnout of nuclear proportions, you're taking responsibility for your own happiness; taking the initiative to make a change. KUDOS!!!

I've encountered so many burned out nurses over the years - absolutely miserable and just going through the motions until they clock out each day. Patients deserve better than this. You're certainly not a failure. Just like the the old adage... insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. ... you've decided to stop the insanity and move toward your own True North.

Keep us posted on your progress. I predict that you'll be a brilliant success in your new career.

I must have missed it, what are you moving on to? With that masters degree and a background in nursing you could make a rather big impression in the medical manufacturing industry. Still have an impact upon health care, actually a rather large impact, and be able to put that degree to use.

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

Thank you for your refreshing honesty, cocoa_puff!

I can truthfully relate to much of what you have mentioned in your articulate, well thought-out post. I am another nurse who does not particularly like patients, family members, or small talk. Working the floor can be mentally draining to those of us with certain personality types.

Good luck to you. I salute you for fighting the good fight while it lasted.

Ditto to having the same thoughts. You have hit the nail on the head for a lot of nurses, although most will sadly admit that they are not in a position to make the career move that would make them just as happy as you are now. Best wishes for a productive and satisfying new work life.

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