How do you know when you've found your niche? Unhappy with nursing in general

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Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 2 years experience.

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Hello dear friends, it's me again!!

I recently started at a level IV NICU at the children's hospital I was already working at (I was on various med-surg/step down pediatric floors for a little under 2 years before starting in the NICU). I really am tired of feeling drained by nursing. I can't tell if it's the specialties I'm in or just nursing in general that I'm unhappy with. Now that I've started in a new specialty I've become super anxious in and outside of work--similar to how I was as a complete new grad.

I am so determined to like nursing, but I feel like I've been unhappy with it since the beginning. Obviously I'm going to give the NICU some time... I just wanted a change from my last position. I guess I'm just scared that I'll waste years of my life in nursing when I could be doing something I enjoy...but I'm starting to think I won't like anything. I just feel frustrated and I wish I could say I love what I do. But I don't enjoy being abused by families, administrators, etc. I love taking care of babies but the way nursing is makes me turned off to it. Does anyone else feel similarly? I wish I could take care of the babies without the parents honestly. Maybe it's just adults that make me nervous in general IDK. I just hate feeling inexperienced, confused, and annoyed. Even on good days I sometimes feel lazy to do my job and IDK why. I want to like nursing but I feel like I never will. I don't have that determination that I feel I should have. it's almost like I'm burnt out already without even starting. it's hard for me to care that much but simultaneously I care too much. I know this doesn't make any sense. welcome to my brain.

NightNerd, MSN, RN

Specializes in CMSRN, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

The best nursing job I've ever seen was a community heath nurse who did home visits with at-risk new moms and babies. She worked for the county and ensured that babies were meeting milestones, coordinated any services needed at home, and did a lot of education with the moms. This strikes me as a great fit for your experience! There is still interaction with families, but since it's not an emergent situation, they're in their own home, etc., everyone was relaxed and happy to talk to the nurse.

As you said, not a bad idea to give NICU a chance and get used to the unit before deciding it's not your niche, but wanted to give you some hope - even if this job is hard right now, it could be preparing you for other roles that will feel more manageable.

In the meantime, I hate to sound cynical,  but the goal of liking nursing is a lofty one - for most of us! It's work, and very challenging work at that. I keep trying to remind myself of that whenever I start panicking that I may never find my calling. It doesn't always make my job more pleasant, but keeping that in mind does help me enjoy my days off a little more fully.

Honestly, developing an attitude of "their time" vs. "my time" has been key for me reaching some kind of work-life balance. If they're not paying you for it, they don't get to take up space in your mind. It takes practice, but is well worth the effort. I hope that if you can strike that balance and actually enjoy your time off, it won't seem quite so insurmountable to go in to work. 

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU. Has 15 years experience.

5 hours ago, pinkdoves said:

 …Does anyone else feel similarly? I wish I could take care of the babies without the parents honestly.

16 years of pediatric nursing and I still have this thought at least once a week.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

There are many ways to use your degree, other than hospital nursing. Search them out. I finally ended up with my dream job, working from home for an insurance company.

Good luck.

EDNURSE20, BSN

Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 4 years experience.

Changing jobs is hard. Going from being comfortable, to a new environment with new people with new way of doing things, Is really hard. I think everyone had that oh s*** feeling when start over, especially if it’s a new speciality. But I’m glad your giving it time  

as for nursing, I say stick with it until either you find something else that really interest you or you are so over it that you would rather work somewhere like a retail store. 

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 42 years experience.

Too often, we look for a job or a relationship to be the be-all and end-all in our lives. If we expect something or somebody else to define us, we will nearly always end up being disappointed.

We will, for example, have children and/or become nurses, in order to fulfill and find some meaning in our lives. Once we depend on those variables, we loose control and can end up feeling powerless over our lives.

The only thing or person we can control in our lives is us. We are the constant in this equation- everything and everybody else are the variables.

Once we get okay with who we are, everything and everybody else can be taken in stride. One paramount truth that I've learned in my life can be summed up in one quote: "My happiness does not depend on what others do or say, or what happens around me. My happiness is the result of being at peace with myself".

The title of this thread asks how I knew when I found my niche, and the answer is simple, but its acceptance and practice can be very difficult

I found my  nursing niche by allowing The Fates to guide me and. blooming where I was planted.

My nursing specialty line notes that I have had about 10 years medical and about 25 years of psychiatric. I wanted to be a medical nurse, but got my foot in the door of hospital nursing by getting hired in psych in 1984. With every attempt to work long term in medical nursing got me back into psych, from hospital to HH to administrative nursing. This was The Fates leading me.

It took me 20 years of working as a nurse to finally accept that psych nursing was my niche, and there I bloomed, working the final 23 years predominately in psych.

Also- and this is an important factor- nursing was not my be-all and end-all. Nursing was my calling, but so was art, and together, I felt well-rounded. I have been a professional caregiver since 1979, a professional artist since 1995, had a successful career, and now feel a sense of integrity and pride in the work that I did.

In reiterating, I owe that success to allowing The Fates to guide me and blooming where I was planted.

Namaste.

ThePrincessBride, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU. Has 6 years experience.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but...

NICU is a pretty sweet gig. I'm in both adult med-surg and NICU, and I have to say that NICU is 1000x better than working with adult patients. Sure, you may have some jerks for parents, but most of the parents I have come across are just grateful for the care their child is getting. Plus, I have more patience for frantic parents as having a kid in the NICU can be very stressful than I do with the non-compliant diabetic patients or the pain-seeking patients who are rude, abusive and entitled as hell.

So, I hate to say this, but if you can't handle the parents, then I doubt the rest of acute care nursing is for you as what is bad in NICU is a trillion times worse in any other specialty, especially if you only have to deal with the parents for a couple of cares (and some parents don't even show up at all.) 

You have a few options though: stay and see if NICU grows on you, switch acute care specialties, leave acute care or leave health care in general or do something that doesn't require caring for patients (nursing informatics, insurance companies, etc).  If I were you, I would at least give NICU a solid year--it may grow on you. If, after a year, you don't like it, then I would strongly consider finding something outpatient or pursuing non-patient care fields.

NotMyProblem MSN, ASN, BSN, MSN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health. Has 35 years experience.

It took me 35 years and I can honestly say that I love my job and it is more of the team that I work with, including the doctor, than the area. It’s DEFINITELY NOT the patients or leadership, although I’ve experienced more rewarding moments in this past eighteen months than I’ve had in my entire career. I contribute my ‘good fit’ because of an extensive acute care background that allows me to give my patients a very vivid glimpse of what they can look forward to should they continue to ignore their medical conditions. I’ve actually brought some patients to tears with gratitude because, in their words, “nobody ever broke it down to me like that”.

Seeing just one patient make changes based on something I said has made the 35 years of pure h*** worthwhile....almost.😁

dream'n, BSN, RN

Specializes in UR/PA, Hematology/Oncology, Med Surg, Psych. Has 28 years experience.

I wonder if I'm weird, but I've never had a job I loved.  I've had jobs that are rewarding, or interesting, or better than most other nursing positions; but none that I've actually loved. I have had jobs where I've felt lucky to be doing what I was doing compared to other positions I could of had. But I can say I've never had a job that I would have done for free, just for the pleasure of it. 

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

What dream'n just said. Some worse or better than others, but at the end of the day it is all to finance my real life away from work.

 

morelostthanfound, BSN

Specializes in CVOR/General Surgery. Has 29 years experience.

4 hours ago, dream'n said:

I wonder if I'm weird, but I've never had a job I loved.  I've had jobs that are rewarding, or interesting, or better than most other nursing positions; but none that I've actually loved. I have had jobs where I've felt lucky to be doing what I was doing compared to other positions I could of had. But I can say I've never had a job that I would have done for free, just for the pleasure of it. 

100%, ^^^ especially corporate healthcare today!  Meh, I would have loved to have been a park ranger or nature photographer instead but those jobs are difficult to come by and don't pay what nursing does.

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

On 11/10/2021 at 4:20 PM, ThePrincessBride said:

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but...

NICU is a pretty sweet gig. I'm in both adult med-surg and NICU, and I have to say that NICU is 1000x better than working with adult patients. Sure, you may have some jerks for parents, but most of the parents I have come across are just grateful for the care their child is getting. Plus, I have more patience for frantic parents as having a kid in the NICU can be very stressful than I do with the non-compliant diabetic patients or the pain-seeking patients who are rude, abusive and entitled as hell.

I didn’t feel that this was a helpful response. It sort of reminds me of when I was the parent of a newborn and felt overwhelmed and unhappy, and acquaintances would say “Oh just wait until he’s a toddler, it gets worse.” That wasn’t what I needed to hear! (And also wasn’t true from my perspective— which is part of what I’m going to say here too. Everyone’s experience is different.)

There are so many different niches in nursing, and sometimes what we think we want to do isn’t actually what we end up liking.
 

My clinic has a pediatrics department— it involves caring for children but in a much less-intense way. There are also fields like lactation consulting that you could look into, since you like babies. Personally, I like educating adults (for example, newly diagnosed T2DM) and I’ve found a good fit for me; and when patients come in for that education, they are in a fairly open and approachable mood. Keep your job for now but look into outpatient roles as well as non-traditional ones involving wellness.