Suffering burnout already in Oncology?

  1. Hi all,
    I've been a nurse for almost two years now. I work in one hospital part time on their Oncology floor and just picked up working registry or PRN at a local hospital (we just moved and this one is closer to me) on their Oncology floor. I'm trying to switch over but don't know if I like this new place. They are kinda behind the times, but their ratios are ALOT better. Like 4-5:1 compared to 8-9:1. I guess my question is I feel like I'm burnt out as a nurse. I don't know if others go through this. I just feel like when I'm working I'm just running all nite to make sure I get things done, but not really taking care of pts like I thought I would be doing. I don't know if it's the hospital - maybe I need to go a different route like a doc's office or something outpatient or is it Oncology?? I love my cancer patients but I wonder if it's taking a toll on me. Yesterday I had a 34yr old pt whose dying from colon cancer with mets to her liver. She has a devoted husband and a 3yr old. It took everything I had to keep it together. She was just diagnosed in Nov. and now is a DNR and has a hospice consult. It's very draining. So, my question is is this just regular nursing and what everyone is feeling cause of the shortages or is it the area I'm in? Is there hope for me? I really love nursing but just feel burnt out lately.
    Thanks so much!
  2. Visit AmyRN1227 profile page

    About AmyRN1227

    Joined: Nov '99; Posts: 122; Likes: 1
    from US
    Specialty: 8 year(s) of experience in Oncology, Med-Surgical


  3. by   Disablednurse
    The unit you are working on is emotionally draining because you see a lot of death and a lot of young people just starting to be adults or with families going thru so much. I would not be surprised if you were getting burned out. Then again, it might be the shift that you are working. Maybe on the shift you are working, you are not getting enough people time. You really need to sit down and look at all the different aspects of what you are doing and weigh the good against the bad.
  4. by   renerian
    I worked hem/onc over 6 years. It does take alot out of you and not everyone can do it. Have you taken a vacation lately? We started a staff support group to help support each other, which helped. Maybe a different type of nursing is an option? Is there some other practice your drawn too?

  5. by   LaVorneRN
    I have worked oncology for many years too and while I love it, it's not for everyone. There are too many areas of nursing for you to get the feel of burnout so early. Maybe you should leave oncology alone for a while and try something a little less emotionally draining. What led you to oncology? You may be working too much but it sounds like the trouble is with the emotional aspect of oncology. Try floating to different units-then you can get a better perspective of an area that better suits you. Or you may just like being a float nurse getting lots of experience in different places and having variety in patient circumstances. Hope this helps.
  6. by   AmyRN1227
    Hi everyone and thanks for your replies. I only work part time right now on staff at the one place and I'm only PRN at the other hospital but they are both Oncology floors and it's just too much. I've always wanted to work L&D but when I got out of school, could not find anyone that would hire me without any experience. Then every time I ask about our L&D floor at my current hospital, there are either no openings or I hear that "it's clickish" and noone leaves. Plus my orientation would probably be full time 12weeks and I have a 2yr old and noone to watch him. My husband watches him when I work 3-11's. What other areas of nursing are less stressful???? I can't do office nursing because of the pay cut, we are trying to save for a house right now. Thanks!

  7. by   AmyRN1227
    Hi everyone again...
    Well, I just got off the phone with one of my nursing buddies from school and she is in Home Health Hospice and is seriously considering leaving the field. She's been at two hospitals and now HH and she's fed up. She is looking into massage therapy and she says one of our other friends is also looking into it. Is this that common, people getting burnt this quick and so often? It's very surprising...even though I feel the same way. Any input would be appreciated.
    Anyone know about nurses going into massage therapy? LOL
  8. by   renerian
    HOw about hospice or home health Amy?

  9. by   AmyRN1227
    Well from just talking to my friend on the phone, it's not a good situation with her either and she's doing home health hospice. She said there's tons of paperwork, she has a caseload of 15pts right now, and is on call eight days in a row. This sounds worse than the hospital...she has no life and her health is affected.
    Don't know, but this all sounds pretty discouraging.
    What other areas of nursing are more flexible? Amy
  10. by   passing thru
    Amy, I think it takes a while to get "emotionally toughened up" to the tragic consequences of some cancer patients.
    When I first started nursing, I worked in a cancer hospital.
    I felt exactly like you.
    One day a doctor explained to me that "it is a privilege to be with these people, a privilege to assist them with their ADL, with relieving their physical pain and suffering, with being a member of the team that will prepare them for the loss of all their hopes, dreams, those they love,, and their very lives."

    After that, even though I saw some horrific and unimaginable things, I thanked God it wasn't me or my loved one, and I devoted myself to doing the best I could do to help them endure and cope.
    I read the book, Death & Dying. Must have bought 50 copies in my nursing life & gave them to family members, but most of all, utilized it in my journey as a "member of the team."
    We are not responsible for the trauma and pain they will experience, but as caring people who nurse them to achieve their best each day, we can help them immeasurably.
    They depend on us. They know most of their friends and family don't know what to do or say, don't understand the impact of the surgeries or medications on the patient., they lean on us for help.
    Just try it with the focus on knowing that everything you do is helping your patient cope.
  11. by   renerian
    YEp lots of paperwork and on call in home health and hospice.
  12. by   shelleybelle
    Amy... maybe you need to reevaluate. I mean I understand the paycut w/the dr's office, but can you really put a price on your sanity & wellbeing? Building/Buying a house is a great goal to have, but not if you're a basket case doing it.... so what if a job change (and decrease in stress) sets you back a little bit... sounds like to me you may benefit from the change... GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!