I made it exactly one year in hospital nursing. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I had no idea. When I found another job and quit, I figured that sooner or later I'd start worrying about "losing my skills" or missing out on the higher pay.
Knowing this, I actually hunted down an old journal to write myself this note:
"I feel compelled to reopen this after eight years to tell myself this:
Whatever happens, however tempting it may seem, I am not cut out for hospital nursing. Even if it’s a float position and I’m only going to work one day a week, and it’s $100/hour. Even if it’s a low-acuity unit. Even if my friend works there. No. Don’t do it. Why?
I worked probably 65 hours in the past six days, and yet I have been awake since 3AM worrying that I didn’t chart something, that I was supposed to pull that guy’s Foley before he went to the nursing home, that I completely forgot to assess a critically ill patient (which turned out to be a dream, but it took me a long time to be certain about that).
I like taking care of people but I don’t like grimly scurrying from one task to the next, always late, always interrupted, rarely with any time to read or talk in depth about my patients to truly understand what’s going on - even on this unit with only 4:1 ratio and good CNAs. The doctors, or at least a good 50% of the doctors, are unspeakably rude and disrespectful. I don’t like having so little control over my working conditions. Everything is about moving bodies out of here as quickly as possible, regardless of whether they can take care of themselves, and getting in new bodies with billable insurance. I don't ever feel like I can really take care of people; to survive in this environment, I have to plot my tasks to absolutely minimize any time spent interacting with the patient ("time management"). It's infuriating, exhausting, and sad.
For the past two days I worked 13.5+ hours with one 15-20 minute break to cram food in my face. And speaking of food, I’m also tired of forcing myself to eat when I’m not hungry (because maybe the 9:30 AM lunch is the only chance I’ll get). Yesterday I hated myself because a very sweet patient was telling me how much he appreciated me, and asking about my dogs, and all I could think was that every minute he talked was one more minute between me and food. It was 15:30, I hadn’t had even a sip of water since 06:30, and I had been busting my ass the whole day.
I have bouts of insomnia, which I never used to have. I wake up literally groaning with anxiety about some forgotten task. I bit all my nails off. I can’t make myself exercise. I don’t read. I'm crabby or zoned out, or both, at home. I've always loved cooking but dinner last night was cereal, ice cream, and a gin and tonic.
Nope. Too much. Don’t do it."
That pretty much sums up my feelings on the topic.