Is this burnout?

  1. Lately, I've been feeling something towards work and I can't put a finger on it. A little background: I've been in the ICU at my facility since the second semester of nursing school (Jan '04) as an Apprentice Nurse and started my career as a professional RN in Aug '05. Up until about a month ago, I had nothing but positive feelings towards work. I love going to work, I enjoyed taking care of my patients, and when asked what I thought about being a nurse, I always responded with a joyful, "I love it!".

    For the past month or so, I don't feel like going to work and I almost feel like I'm dragging my feet as I head in for a shift. I don't feel as though I'm giving much back to my patients these days and almost feel as though I'm "doing enough to just get by". That is NOT the kind of nurse I pride myself on being. I have always done the little extra things and tried to really put my heart and soul into what I do. I don't know what on earth is wrong with me but I've only been an RN for about 18 months and can't imagine going through burnout already! I used to absolutely adore and love my job, my patients, and their families.

    Have any other "new" nurses gone through this? I knew what I was getting into prior to starting my career as an RN in this unit as I had worked in it for over a year in the capacity as an RN in the Apprentice Nurse program. I've seen so many changes and so much turnover. I've outlasted quite a few that started at the same time or after me. I was walking through the General Surgical Unit this morning to say goodbye to a patient I had transferred there overnight and found myself envying the nurses on that floor. The environment is so much different, so much "warmer", etc. I know that a floor nurse's job is NOT easier, but it certainly the polar opposite of what I've been doing for so long. I don't really know any other kind of nursing and when I had to do my practicum upstairs on the Med-Neph floor, I was overwhelmed with all the RN's had to do there. I was practically in tears from the constant tugging and pulling in all different directions by the multiple patients and their demanding families.

    I'm so confused and am starting to get this weird feeling like I choose the wrong career/profession. That scares the hell out of me because just a few months ago, I loved being a nurse with all my being! I felt that I had really chosen the right path for my individual personality and mind. Now, it's the complete opposite. Do I need a change? Do others go through this as well? I certainly don't think the pastures are greener elsewhere, just different landscaping. But I am the kind of person that finds it extremely difficult to step outside my comfort zone. Travel nursing, especially at this time (I have 2 smaller kids), is not an option and may never be. I can't afford to "take a break" due to financial obligations. I don't want to become one of those people who just go through the motions of a job and are simply a warm body for 12 hours. I was just curious if this was normal or have I gone mad! Maybe I should up the dose of my antidepressants before making any sudden moves! Any advice, suggestions, personal experiences, etc. are greatly appreciated and welcomed!

  2. Visit LilRedRN1973 profile page

    About LilRedRN1973

    Joined: Sep '03; Posts: 1,163; Likes: 464
    Registered Nurse; from US
    Specialty: 8 year(s) of experience in ICU, psych, corrections


  3. by   DutchgirlRN
    It took me about 2 years to hit burnout. I took a 3 month break and went back. About 9 months later burnout hit again. Now I'm much older than you. I'm 51 y/o and have been a nurse for 31 y/o years. I never faced burnout except in the hospital.
  4. by   GingerSue
    good plan to make no sudden moves

    think carefully about pros and cons re: any changes
  5. by   caliotter3
    You are normal. The honeymoon is coming to its logical conclusion. You now need to find your equilibrium. Vacation, religious retreats, dates with your hubby (without kiddies), a class on something totally new (like knitting), anything involved with life that may or may not involve hlth care, a change: something to look forward to. Change in your present position. Maybe different floor, area of expertise, another shift for awhile. Change jobs. Many nurses are able to survive b/c when they "hit the wall" that you are describing, they change jobs. Often hard to do. Maybe you could start a higher level of education online. If you like adventure, some people engage in extramarital affairs, (I am only saying this b/c I want to emphasize CHANGE). Think about the TV ad where the lady daydreams about Fabio. Hey, whatever it takes. But realize, you have hit the first of probably many, plateaus. You have to figure out what to do to keep going with less than optimal enthusiasm. It is as much a part of life, as it is a part of nrsg. I am myself going through the throes of figuring out that nrsg is not the end all and be all of life. Too bad, but that's the way it is. Hope you find your relief.
  6. by   RNperdiem
    In my Surgical ICU, I've noticed that something happens to nurses at the 2 year mark.
    Many start looking around at what else is out there.
    Others wonder if they can handle long term nursing survival in their current nursing position.
    Some go back to school. Others leave for different specialties.
    At the two year mark, the honeymoon is over. You are expected to pull your weight by your co-workers, and might have extra responsibilities.
    If a nurse lasts beyond those 2 years, they will probably stay a long time.