burn out, bullying, new nurse blues, affecting my relationship and mental health

  1. Hi all,

    I am a relatively new nurse, graduated in 2012 and working at my first job since last fall. I am a RN and I work on an acute inpatient psych unit. I'm having a few challenges related to work, sorry if this is a bit disjointed.

    The unit I work on is going through a period of low morale and toxic environment. We're frequently short staffed, the acuity level of our patients (and consequently our workload) is super high, the physical environment of our unit is poor (very old and somewhat decrepit building, not really suitable for use as a psych unit.) The staff are generally quite stressed. In addition there is a level of bullying that goes on on the floor, especially of new staff. I got bullied for the first few months I was there, it has calmed down a lot now but there are still incidents from time to time. I'm sad that some of our newer hires have been getting bullied too. I try hard to support the newbies as best I can but it makes me sad they are getting picked on unfairly. Additionally the gossip and rumour mill in my work is out of control.

    Management knows there's a problem and is trying to address it (e.g. doing staff education on communication and respectful workplaces), but I'm not sure how much effect it's having. I've been off on sick leave for a while and am about to go back, and am feeling stressed and anxious at the thought of returning. I am worried about getting bullied again when I am returning from sick leave.

    I think I am going to look for another job. Please tell me that there are places to work where it isn't just constant stress. Another thing is, as a relatively new nurse, I find it really stressful, I feel like I am always strapped for time and don't have enough time to do all that I want to do for my patients. Some days, especially when short staffed, it feels like a struggle just to get the bare minimum done.

    I've realized while on sick leave that I've become depressed, due to some stressful events in my life as well as job stress. I think I am feeling burned out. I can't believe I am feeling burned out and have been nursing for only one year. Am I doing something wrong?

    Finally, this has all been affecting my relationship with my partner. He is really great and a very supportive person, but he has been concerned for some time about how much my work has been affecting me. He is also in health care (not a nurse) and has been suggesting for some time that I consider finding another job, as my unit sounds so bad. I have done too much venting about work to him, it's not healthy for either of us. Also he told me recently that for awhile I have seemed like an unhappy, negative person, and he is worried about me and also feeling a bit stressed himself about it all. Have any of you had job stress affect your relationship? I am hoping if I find a new, healthier job that I won't feel so much need to vent about work. In the meantime, how can I develop some healthier ways to cope with the stress until I can get in to a different job?
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    About tareija

    Joined: Apr '09; Posts: 71; Likes: 38
    from CA


  3. by   LisalaRN99
    Wow! I thought for a minute you were one of my coworkers until you gave a physical description of your unit! It is tough working in psych, isn't it? And then there are all the mentally ill patients we have to contend with!

    It sounds like it might be time to look for a new job. Really research the type of job you want to consider. Do you still want psych? Have you considered Addictions Nursing? There are agencies that hire psych nurses for home health, too.

    Good luck to you!
  4. by   sunmaidliz
    Your story broke my heart. I, too was bullied so bad on my first nursing job, and by a classmate of mine who reccommended me to the manager for the job! My anxiety was so high that it really kept me from performing well on the job. They let me go at the end of probation, mostly because I wasn't yet trained and ready to be on my own. It's aweful how nurses take their stress out on each other. Finding another job will probably make you feel a lot happier but... it's a tough market there and you haven't hit your full year. Once you hit a year, you can sign on to a staffing or travel agency. But I have a feeling that you are going to get workplace drama and crap wherever you go. Not you personally. It's just nursing. I don't know how to tell you to deal with it. I have a hard time myself dealing with drama. I have no idea how to cope with it and it gets to me too. My husband is supportive but it does strain things between us.

    I could give trite advice like start exercizing, meditating, taking deep breaths but we all know that really doesn't help when the problem is serious. Maybe you should decide how seriously this is affecting you and possibly going to see someone who can help you cope with it. If you don't feel like it's affecting you seriously, well, just keep swimming, hold out and finish out your year and move on. However, you are going to get the crap no matter what. If after some soul searching you realize this is affecting you serious ways, don't be afraid to reach out and get some help. Remember, self care is the most important care we can give. BUt my advice is to wait out your year. Then find your niche.
  5. by   AmandaLPNtoRN
    It's so sad that new nurses are being done this way. I have been a nurse for 12 years and I have worked many places. They are not all like that. And yes, if you are really that seriously depressed and dreading work then you need to look for a change. I'm sure that you are doing all you can on those days that you feel like you've done the bare minimum. It takes a while to get comfortable in nursing and to find your niche. I have worked jobs before where I have come home and cried for an hour to my husband about how much I hate it. It helps to have a support person but if it's affecting your relationship then that isn't good, no job is worth losing your relationship. I hope this helps. I really think that if you can find something else that's better your burnout feeling will get better.
  6. by   Been there,done that
    It sounds like your currently facility is privately owned? They are notorious for minimal staffing and decrepit buildings.
    Can you take your current experience to a larger facility?
    Try another shift?
    Use cognitive therapy on yourself. This a only a JOB after all. You're not burnt out, you are just now becoming aware of the realities of nursing.
    Good luck.
  7. by   chevyv
    I too work in psych but ltc not acute. I could have sworn you worked at the same facility. We are going through the same scenario. I found I was feeling stressed and short tempered at home. I had to talk to myself and realize that I had no control over most of what is happening at the job. I had to learn to leave work at work and enjoy my time away. I also started walking everyday in a park like setting with my dogs. There are no other people, cars, or other disruptions. It's peaceful and it's something both myself and my dogs look forward to. It's my time to let my mind go.

    I have also come to the conclusion that it's okay to move on when I feel it's too much. I love psych and I'm pretty good at what I do. I love learning from my pts as well as staff. My facility is supposed to be closing so morale is very low and staff is very stressed. We also have the normal day to day stress as well. So I put out applications, concentrate on finishing my schooling, and let things go. I can't control back stabbing (and I understand stress will increase this), tempers from flaring (except my own), or when my number will come up and I'll be let go, but I'll get through it. I'm sorry you have to go through the bullying. I hate that one especially. This is a good place to come vent and seek out advice and others in similar situations. Good luck and hugs to you.
  8. by   tareija
    Thanks both for your responses. AmandaLPNtoRN, it's good to hear that not everywhere is like this! You are right, I definitely do all I can on the days where I feel the bare minimum has been done, believe me it is not for lack of effort or hard work on my part. Just too many patients with too many needs and not enough time. I'm sure it's like this many places, unfortunately. I agree it is not worth it to let a job affect my relationship. I think I have maybe wound up using my partner as a support more, since he is also in health care and gets it more than an average "civilian" would.

    Been there done that, the facility is a public one, I'm Canadian. I think the solution is going to be to take my experience elsewhere. You are right, it is only a job and it's not worth it to let it affect me so much. When you refer to becoming aware of the realities of nursing, do you mean the lack of enough staff and time to do a good job? or the bullying?
  9. by   tareija
    Yeah, its unfortunate but it sounds like these types of things happen all over the place. Psych can indeed be tough. I was very idealistic going in to it and really wanted to help people and make a difference and all of that. Honestly though, if between your coworkers and your patients, your coworkers are the ones causing you more stress, you know something is wrong. I find psych nursing can be very rewarding in some ways, but honestly it is stressful enough without adding the bullying and low morale on top of it. I am not sure at this point if I want to stay in psych. I am considering staying in it casual or part time (hopefully at a different hospital), but then also getting a casual or part time in a different practice area, just to see what I prefer.
  10. by   tareija
    Sunmaidliz, I am so sorry that happened to you. How long have you been nursing, if you don't mind me asking? I am considering maybe going to counselling for some support if things either don't improve, or get any worse. I have been making an effort this last week or two to be more positive, and spend time doing things I enjoy (e.g. going for long walks, seeing friends and family, etc.) It does seem to be helping. If I go downhill again after going back to work, I think I will see a counsellor. I am coming up on my one year shortly here, so it's almost done!
  11. by   tareija
    Chevyv, I think realizing that I can't control other people, etc, is definitely helpful. I think learning to leave work at work will help to. I am working on it. My boyfriend is also in health care, and we have both find we wind up talking about work to each other a fair bit, since the other person "gets it" more than if we had a partner who wasn't in health care. This is nice, to a point, in that we can be supportive of each other. However I think sometimes we wind up talking about work too much. We are actually both going through a stressful point in our careers right now, and so we've made an agreement to talk about work a lot less and have our home life be a nice environment that is separate from work stress. I think it'll help.

    Thank you all so much for your advice and feedback. I really appreciate it.
  12. by   Been there,done that
    Yes, lack of staff and time is a universal nursing experience. I had 25 years in my most recent hospital job and I struggled to get the bare minimum done. You will find you will learn which corners can be cut.
    Too many tasks, not enough time... it's the situation NOT you.
    Bullying is also every where. New nurses must prove themselves... it's the pecking order.
    Find humor any where you can... it got me through.
    When I worked psych, I always thought...."they've given ME the keys and let me out every night? Little do they know
  13. by   Esme12
    Duplicate threads merged as per the TOS
  14. by   EGVnurse
    I have been a nurse for almost a year now in a large urban Trauma 1 930-bed hospital. At first I thought being on nights would help give me time to learn and grow as a new nurse and for a while it did. But the shift and switching between days/nights has ended up affecting my mental and emotional health in a horrible way. I cry whenever I'm not at work. I am negative and pessimistic whereas I used to enjoy all the little things in life. I now tend to make mountains out of anthills! Which is not my norm.

    I think the wacky sleep schedule paired with the stress (5-6 patients per nurse) has been hard for me. The problem is that day shift is so coveted and only the experienced nurses who have been on my unit for 3-4 years work exclusively days. Plus days come with their own set of stressors.

    What you mentioned about the job stress affecting your relationship with your partner hit home for me. I have a wonderful boyfriend who moved across the country to be with me...and yet I can feel myself pushing him away. I am so unhappy and I can't articulate my feelings; I sometimes wish he could just read my mind. I feel like I'm taking my work unhappiness out on him. I feel very downtrodden and while I love nursing at its core--I love critical thinking and seeing patients get better and actually making a difference (a month ago I identified compartment syndrome symptoms in a young patient with a tib-fib fracture/IM nailing which resulted in an emergency fasciotomy...that felt really good)...but I don't think I can handle this--this being poor staffing, negative comments from management, sicker patients, nurses complaining and criticizing each other--for much longer.

    I hope everyone finds their happiness! Thanks for listening.