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First Year Nursing Depression.

tinge2942 tinge2942 (New) New

Hello All.

I have been a practicing RN since February. I had been working at a smaller community based hospital on the med-surg floor. I recently transfered within the company to a large medical center on a surgical floor.

I am really struggling here and am at my wits end. I do well at my job. I receive compliments and praise. However, I hate it. I am so exhausted at the end of each shift. I had been working full time days and recently converted to full time nights. I am seeing the benefits of nights on this floor as the insanity is toned down approximately 10%. However, I have no time for myself. My sleep schedule is so topsy-turvy that I cannot eat. I find myself sitting at home and starring into oblivion but I cannot sleep. I then proceed to cry like an infant child.

But do not misunderstand. It is not simply night shift transition. It is nursing itself. Or perhaps med-surg nursing. I work so hard, but it never seems to be enough. I count myself lucky that I do not have to stay 2 or 3 hours past my shift to chart. I have made it an extreme priority to never do that, but in turn by the time my shift is over I am praying for a bolt of lightening to strike me down so I do not have to return the next night.

I am so disappointed. In myself. In this career choice. I want to quit. I want to walk right into work (I am still finishing up my orientation on the new surgical floor) and hand over my badge. However, this company is the largest employer in my tristate area. I do NOT want to become a DNR with them. There are many opportunities there. However, I don't think I can make it six months.

I have also developed huge trust issues with upper management. When I got hired at both of my jobs, I was given the rose colored glasses tour. The "We have strict pt to staff ratios", "We only care about delivering the best care while maintaining employee satisfaction". Immediately my ratio AND the aides ratios were debunked. When I asked about them, people just roll their eyes and say, "you fell for it too". It makes me really depressed. I am really trying to be the hard ass nurse. The "we will prosper!", but deep down I feel like I am defeating myself. I have been trying to mold these floors into something I love. I have been trying to say, "my job matters. I am a great nurse. I make a difference. It isn't just about money". But the ONLY thing keeping me at this job is my paycheck and the disappointment in my husbands eyes (which will soon breed a resentment, I know).

All of this stress in my career has put a real toll on me healthwise. I cannot sleep but am forever tired. I am frequently nauseated and tearful. My husband and I would like to try and have a baby, but my stress levels have left us without results for the past 6 months. My husband fortunately has a career in a field that he absolutely loves and fulfills him intellectually and in turn, us financially. I get the feeling he is tired of hearing all this. I know he knows I want to quit. I just see such disappointment in his eyes, which in turn makes me more depressed.

I have been thinking about ED nursing/ Labor and Delivery/ any other field. My two great friends are ED nurses and always provide me encouragement that they felt the exact same way in med-surg. I have six months before I can transfer or take the risk of turning in my badge and say I just can't work this floor anymore. I know it's only 6months, but life is very short and the past 8mos have already taken a large toll.

This post is incredibly long. I don't really know what I am looking for. I haven't really shared how incredibly unhappy I am with my supervisors because I am scared they will tell me what I secretly already know: Get over it or Get out.

I have used this site for 4 mos reading similar posts. I felt it was my turn to let it all out, even if no one reads it.


Specializes in ICU.

I am really sorry things are so crappy for you right now. I would highly recommend finding someone you can talk to- a friend, a parent/sibling, or even a therapist. It takes time to adjust to a new job and feel comfortable- it also takes time to adjust to nights, and I know of several people that just could not do them because of the depression they induced. I, personally, would try to make it until you can transfer and then try for a different unit. But if you honestly can't stick it out that long, that's ok too...your health is more important than a job, and that includes your mental health. (((hugs)))


I felt that way when I worked nights in home health. I got out of that asap. Im now working days in a group home and it is a lot better. I am such a night owl that I thought working nights was the way to go. I always felt tired. That was half the problem. Maybe you arent geared for nights and the added stress of a unit that you are not really interested in is putting you over the top. Thats what happened to me.

amarilla, RN

Specializes in MS, ED. Has 2 years experience.

First of all, ((hugs)), and sorry you are feeling this way. It might sound trite, but you're a new nurse, still in orientation on a busy floor; much of what you're feeling is absolutely *normal*. I felt the same way and I'm sure if you've been reading posts from others in this forum and the 'first year of licensure' forum, you see that we all felt overwhelmed, anxious, nervous, doubtful...

and unhappy.

Think about what you've written here though and ask yourself if it's really "nursing" - as in, taking care of patients, providing teaching, administering medications and thinking through their plan of care - or the strains of working a hospital floor that you're finding so awful. I too thought I'd made a very expensive and stupid mistake - changing careers in my 30s only to find that my first job - on a busy general surg floor of a big teaching hospital - was so....awful! I wanted to quit and never go back; I tried so hard to think it through and try to articulate what it was that felt so wrong, but couldn't come up with an exact answer. I'm convinced now, two years later, that sometimes it's the transition to the floor with its demands, (many times) unsafe ratios and sink-or-swim working environment that breeds this sense of discontent. I also felt badly, because DH kept saying, "it's okay, maybe you should just switch jobs - maybe that's it!" - he tried so hard to be supportive and I just wasn't happy.

I did switch jobs - transferred to another floor, then to float pool - and I finally found out what was wrong: my hospital system was ridiculous. 11 patients at night - I should've turned in my badge and never looked back, but being my first hospital, I didn't know if things were better elsewhere. I took an agency position to do M/S float at another hospital and actually had time to sit down, go pee, eat food - amazing! Of course, part of this is that you need to give yourself a solid 1-2 years to grow into your role; you recently underwent a big change moving from a smaller facility to a larger one, with a new orientation - it's almost like starting over again, with much of the same anxiety. Most of my anxiety began to melt away as I began more and more accustomed to my patient population, skill set and job. Once those feelings started to fade, I took another job and am now in the ED. Given this path, I think I can tell you that going to a busier, more rough and tumble area isn't going to be less stressful; it will ask even more of you than the floor and utilize a different mindset and skillset than what you're developing now. Don't jump out of the pan into the fire just to flee the floor - if anything, put in your time with the only goal to develop your skills, learn and then use them to get out. Count the days, mark them off on a calendar, whatever it takes - just get through it and take away what you can.

It can get better and it does - there are many stories of proof rolling around on this website (including mine, here!). Hang in there, develop your skills and keep your eyes on the prize - advancing your knowledge and moving along to a more suitable specialty, whichever it may be. Good luck.


Specializes in ER trauma, ICU - trauma, neuro surgical. Has 10 years experience.

Hanging in there....There are so many other positions that you can look into. You might be fed up with the number of pts. ER can be VERY stressful. You can have stable pts or 5 unstable pts with ambulances rolling through the door. Some like the idea of not know what happens next. The ICU usually has a 2:1 ratio. It is a lot of work b/c you are managing everything for 12 hrs but you can concentrate on your two patients.Some nurses just don't enjoy being at the bedside for hrs and hrs. You can look into interventional radiology or cath lab. You get to focus on that pt and be involved with the procedure part. You can do IV team where your involvement is the procedure and not fetching things or dealing with overbearing family members. You could even try a surgery center. There's a ton of positions where you can be happy. I worked nights for a couple of years and I think I made the right decision when I switched to days. When I did nights, I was always tired...even on my days off. I needed a full day to recover and everyone thinks you are lazy if you're asleep at 4 in the afternoon. I felt like it aged me. Keep you head up. You will find your niche....

You are still a relatively new nurse and are a new nurse in the unit you are on now. It takes time to get acoustomed to things. Did you feel this way before when starting a new job or your last nursing job? . How do the other nurses handle their assignment, especially the experienced ones?

Honestly, I think the ER or LD will be a lot more stressful. A lot more. In the ED, you will have to be competent in everything you do in med surg plus a ton more. If it is in the same large hospital you work at there will be traumas rolling in the door, cardiac /resp arrests etc. You will have to manage those pts and the ones you manage now in med surg. Try to stick it out six months to see if having experience helps change your situation or not.

I was very very miserable when I first started. Looking back , I can say a lot of it was unsafe pt ratios but some of it was also being slow due to being new, knowing less than I do now. etc. From experience, most people don't like complaints, so I try to keep them to a minimum ( aside from on this message board) unless they are in nursing, they don't have a clue. I never complain to mangament because it is useless and the attitude is put up and shut up or get out. New grads are a dime a dozen throughout the country. We have people comming in from hundreds of miles.


Specializes in urology, pediatrics, med-surg. Has 4 years experience.

As a med-surg nurse at a busy hospital, I understand and sympathize. I cried what seemed like every day after work most of my first year. I was exhausted. I never felt I was doing as good a job as I wanted to because I was constantly running, chasing my tail and never getting done. It does get better with time. However, as others have pointed out, nights may not be something you're cut out for (I'm not for sure), and med surg may not be your thing either. The beautiful thing about nursing is that you have so many different specialties to choose from.

As a bit of encouragement, I've switched to Staff Support at my hospital, allowing me to work different floors and manage my work schedule around my life. That's taken a lot of the stress out of working for me, and I'm still in med-surg and love it. My time management and organization is finally, mostly, under control and I finally feel competent most of the time. It's taken me a long time to get to this point, but it feels good. Whether in med-surg or another specialty, you will find your groove, and learn what works best for you. You worked hard to get that license. You will find your niche.

I don't really have any advice for you, as I am still in nursing school. I just wanted to say to hang in there. :unsure: I'm sorry for what you are going through, and I hope things get better for you soon.

Edited by B in the USA

Thanks for writing this post.. My 23yr old son is looking to enrol in nursing course 2019 it's the gravity of the ongoing work load I am concerned about as he has a connective tissue disorder. If you were my daughter (I'm not a nurse or qualified to counsel) I would say to you. "Yes medical nursing is continuous and physically demanding. But maybe it's like Boot camp and at the end of 18mths you are better qualified to apply for new jobs that are more on your terms, e.g, temping where you do short stints of 4 weeks etc if you wanted and then be n/a for a couple of weeks. Or take a community type job, or a cruisy job in a Day Spa 9-5. When you take the new job you'll be super fit from working on the ward and do great in a lifestyle friendly role. (Too many young woman give their best years to career expectations tbh). Thanks and hope life got better :)