Hi All! I graduated nursing school a little more than a year ago and have been at my first job for about 9 months now and I can honestly say that I am miserable. I've decided to post on here because I feel like my family members and friends can't really relate to how I'm feeling and I just need some kind words and advice from nurses who know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. I know for a fact that I am not alone in how I'm feeling.
Again, I've only been at my first job on a very busy post-op floor for nine months now, but have been considering leaving very seriously for the last few months. I made it my goal to stay for at least one year, then regroup and look into my options, however anxiety, dread, depression and hopelessness has slowly started taking over my life. I know they say your first year is the hardest, but I am a realist, and do not believe in sacrificing happiness, health and enjoying life for a job. Let me explain further whats going on...
I work on a busy, busy, BUSY ortho/neuro floor at a teaching hospital. I can have anywhere between 4 and 6 patients during a shift. Most of you will say thats not a lot (and I totally agree), but the types of patients, meaning their needs can be very overwhelming and stressful. Most days with my ortho patients I feel like a human pyxis machine passing percocet and dilaudid, running from room to room getting everyone up to the bathroom, making sure no one gets out of bed without assistance (because if they fall, its on me) and dealing with the psychosocial issues of many too. I also find about once a week I get a patient who was a poor candidate for an elective surgery and is often taken to ICU due to other medical issues exacerbated by the stress of the surgery. Oh and with pain medication comes the constant worry of over medicating someone who can not seem to get their pain under control. But on the flip side if I use my brain and nursing judgement and say, lets slow down the pain meds for a while, boy am I in for it! I'll also mention with regards to controlling pain that our hospital is HUGE on patient satisfaction, so controlling or at least having people with minimal pain is a must (even though these patients have had surgery and with surgery comes pain, right!?). The neuro patients are usually a little easier to work with, unless I get a patient with uncontrolled gran-mal seizure activity, a patient in DTs screaming, hitting and cursing at me, or the non-compliant ataxic and weak patient who refuses to call before getting out of bed. I'll be honest, last week I had a group of patients with at least one of these issues mentioned above. Needless to say, I left work that day exhausted. I knew that nursing was not a glamorous or easy job to get into, but I had no clue that I would be crying at least once a week during my shift. This is so embarassing because I am a strong, tough girl and I feel like at this point in my time on the unit I should not feel so stressed and overwhelmed. I keep waiting for the day that I will wake up and not dread going to my job, and actually get through a shift without wanting to scream. I'll also mention that management is so unrealistic, and completely delusional when it comes to standards and patient satisfaction. I think that they have totally disconnected from the time that they were floor nurses and really do not understand what its like anymore. You cant approach them with anything. They are also constantly coming up with some new policy, and breathing down my neck when they decide to come out from behind their desks with their clip boards checking off what I did and did not do that morning as Im running around getting STAT this and that, assisting people to the bathroom and not getting people their pain meds fast enough. Im sure all of you know what I mean...Oh and I almost forgot to mention the surgical residents!! What gems they are to work with! NOT! I have never been so disrespected, demeaned and made to feel so stupid before in my life.
I went into nursing to care for people. Im a very compassionate, genuine person and wanted nothing more than to make a difference in people's lives or just be there for them in their time of need. Bedside nursing makes that impossible though. Im very depressed and have recently started seeing a doctor. I dont think its normal to cry at work, before work and after you get off work. Im nauseated writing this post because I had no clue that I would feel this way. Im So stressed, hopeless and on the verge of handing in my 2 weeks. I really believe I have reached burn out in 9 short months. How sad!!! I am so afraid of looking weak and like a failure if I leave though. I go into work with a smile on my face every morning, always looking to make it a good day, but it usually gets the best of me. Maybe I wasnt meant for bedside care?? Not sure what to do, but know that I cant keep going on like this.
Advice, comments and reassurance on my feelings are so appreciated!
Jan 7, '13
I also meant to mention that I have been looking into positions as an RN outside of the hospital. I dont think that continuing to pursue bedside nursing is worth all the stress on my mind and body. I've looked into home health and working in clinics at my state and county health department. Would love to hear feedback stories from anyone who has worked or is working in these areas. I'm not at all concerned about the pay cut I will get from taking a position in these areas either. :O) Id rather be living paycheck to paycheck than endure than immense amounts of stress in the hospital.
Jan 9, '13
I feel like you have read my mind! I am also a new nurse about a year out of school and have been working on an extremely busy neuro/ medsurg unit for the past 10 months. I took this compassion fatigue and burnout assessment and found that I was scoring off the charts for job related stress. I have been suffering from depression and anxiety, with symptoms of nausea, dizziness, fainting, cold sweats, lack of sleep, constant crying, and heart palpitations. This week it seems to have become to much, and I have a VERY unsympathetic boss and no one I can really talk to at work. I have an appointment this week to see a counselor through the EAP we have here and I also have an appointment to see my PCP on friday. Don't know what they'll be able to do for me but I hope I can get some relief. I am a very sensitive person but I am also generally a happy person. I'm applying to other places and I do feel guilty about looking around before a year is up but I don't see why I have to hang around when I'm so unhappy. Alot of the other nurses here are also leaving for other jobs; it's not just me feeling the strain. The mood here is generally unhappy. I hope we can both find help
Jan 10, '13
Hi Joy- Please know that you are not alone. It does get easier in some ways after you have a year or more experience. However, your description of your neuro floor sounds like all the med surg floors I ever worked on. I just don't care for that type of acute care environment anymore myself, for the very same reasons. One nice thing about working in a large hospital, though, is maybe you get floated to other departments and see if some other area is a better fit. There were always a few floors that I liked better than others. But I feel most of the acute care floors were all the same. The high acuity, general lack of support, heavy workload and ever growing list of new responsibilities is hard to endure. I think this type of nursing would be much more do-able and less burnout if you actually had the resources to do the job...aids to help with patients' toileting and feeding needs, charge nurse to assist with admissions/IV starts/troubleshooting, supportive administration that pitches in when help is needed.
I can tell you that it would be helpful to have a year under your belt in terms of what employers would like to see.The job market is very tight right now. There are a million RNs available and applying to positions.I'm not saying don't leave the hospital...just sharing that it is a tough market out there and to be aware. Personally, I am still looking for a better fit, too. I don't see anything shameful in trying to find a job that better suits you. Maybe look at home health, clinics, the county, hospice, insurance companies, school nurse, etc. Being a nurse is more than just working at the hospital. Please don't feel like a failure. Hospital nursing is very hard, stressful, physical/emotionally draining. Your feelings echo so much of what I feel, and I have been a nurse for years. I wish you luck in your search & hope you find what you're looking for. Please let us know how it goes. :-)
Last edit by Genista on Jan 10, '13
Jan 10, '13
I completely and totally understand. But don't give up. Stick it out as long as you can, I made the mistake of leaving early and finding a non floor job just months after being on floor. After 5 years I am looking for a new job on the floor or anything at this point and 84 applications and only one job interview later I am kicking myself for not sticking out a year. Thank God that the only interview I got offered me a job.
Now that my job has sucked out every single bit of happiness the only things that helped me get through were crochet and running. that was it. It even sucked the joy out of planning my wedding. the only thing that will make it better is finding something else or changing your attitude. Like my mom always says if you can change your circumstances then change them if not then change your attitude. (which is easier said then done though)
I honestly don't think you need to leave floor nursing, you just need to find a place that fits you better. IT WILL GET BETTER THOUGH.