I'm burned out


  • Specializes in LPN. Has 16 years experience.

I work in a nursing home. After making repeated med errors on the job, I chose to use up my vacation time with some time off to try to pull myself together. Unfortunately, it's not working.

I have no desire to go back to work. The nursing home I'm in is actually a pretty nice one and I've been there 2 years. It's not that I want to work in a different nursing home, I'm just tired of doing this altogether. When I became a nurse, I had dreams of going for RN and getting an advanced degree in midwifery. But I got stuck somewhere along the way, and now I'm years away from even going back to school for RN since I would have to repeat a lot of the prerequisites.

I would like to do something different, but I feel like I have nowhere to go. Nothing else pays as well as nursing home work, but I hate to feel like I'm in this only for the money. :(

So how do you get out of a rut, in terms of attitude toward work?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

I burned out when I worked five 8-hour shifts per week in the nursing home setting. For some reason, it felt as if I was always at work when I had to report to work more frequently.

I prefer to work two to three 12-hour shifts per week because this enables me to have more days off per week and, therefore, more days away from the workplace. I am also a PRN employee, so I simply take days off on a whim when I feel the need for some rejuvenation.

Good luck to you.


991 Posts

I think this is a set of feelings and a place that transends across the licenses. I too am at that place.

Five years ago I wanted to go back to be an NP worse than anything: An acute care NP to boot. I felt my brain and learning ability were geared up for it. Then life happened, the economy and it's personal effects with it compounded by the nursing profession's reactions to the economy- the hiring freezes, the unemployment, the employer attitudes, the change in focus from patient centered to money centered and the push for this BSN. Now all I want is out completely and to not look back. Good riddens and bye-bye nursing.

Sadly, I don't think we are alone.


991 Posts

Does this sound like any of our nursing working environments? Why and for whom(which big boss) are we being burned out for?

Job Burnout: Job Factors That Contribute to Employee Burnout

What Makes Some Jobs More Stressful?

By Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com Guide

Updated February 21, 2010

About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board

Job burnout is becoming increasingly common where one's devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results,” and is a stress-related state. (See this article for the symptoms of burnout.) There are several factors that can contribute to burnout, including job-related features, lifestyle factors and personality characteristics. This article focuses on the job-related features that can cause or exacerbate burnout. Some companies and industries have much higher rates of burnout than others. The following features tend to cause more stress, taking more of a toll on workers:

Unclear Requirements:

When it’s not clear to workers how to succeed, it’s harder for them to be confident, enjoy their work, and feel they’re doing a good job. If the job description isn’t explained clearly, if the requirements are constantly changing and hard to understand, or if expectations are otherwise unclear, workers are at higher risk of burnout.

Impossible Requirements:

Sometimes it’s just not possible to do a job as it’s explained. If a job’s responsibilities exceed the amount of time given to complete them properly, for example, it’s really not possible to do the job well. Workers will put in a lot of effort and never quite feel successful, which also leaves them at risk for burnout.

High-Stress Times with No “Down” Times:

Many jobs and industries have “crunch times”, where workers must work longer hours and handle a more intense workload for a time. This can actually help people feel invigorated if the extra effort is recognized, appropriately compensated, and limited. It starts becoming problematic when “crunch time” occurs year-round and there’s no time for workers to recover.

Big Consequences for Failure:

People make mistakes; it’s part of being human. However, when there are dire consequences to the occasional mistake (like the risk of a lawsuit, for example), the overall work experience becomes much more stressful, and the risk of burnout goes up. (This is part of why nurses have such a high rate of burnout.)

Lack of Personal Control:

People tend to feel excited about what they’re doing when they are able to creatively decide what needs to be done and come up with ways of handling problems that arise. Generally speaking, workers who feel restricted and unable to exercise personal control over their environment and daily decisions tend to be at greater risk for burnout.

Lack of Recognition:

It’s difficult to work hard and never be recognized for one’s accomplishments. Awards, public praise, bonuses and other tokens of appreciation and recognition of accomplishment go a long way in keeping morale high. Where accolades are scarce, burnout is a risk.

Poor Communication:

Poor communication in a company can cause or exacerbate some of these problems, like unclear job expectations or little recognition. When an employee has a problem and can’t properly discuss it with someone who is in a position to help, this can lead to feelings of low personal control.

Insufficient Compensation:

Some occupations just are stressful, and it’s one of those things that you just accept along with the paycheck—if the paycheck is sufficient. However, if demands are high and financial compensation is low, workers find themselves thinking, “They don’t pay me enough to deal with this!” And the burnout risk goes up.

Poor Leadership:

Company leadership can go a long way toward preventing or contributing to burnout. For example, depending on the leadership, employees can feel recognized for their achievements, supported when they have difficulties, valued, safe, etc. Or they can feel unappreciated, unrecognized, unfairly treated, not in control of their activities, insecure in their position, unsure of the requirements of their jobs, etc. Poor company leadership is one factor that can influence many others—many of which can put an employee at risk for burnout.

mc3, ASN, RN

931 Posts

Has 12 years experience.

A few years ago, I knew all about burnout, but didn't think it would affect me. (Hah!) This article validated everything I was feeling at my previous employer. Sometimes, the expectations really are impossible. My boss used to say it was a "time management" issue....the greatest excuse I've heard to date for dumping yet more work on someone. I did leave, but didn't realize how much it was affecting my stress level and body until I was out of there.

I'm sorry you're going through this. I know how it feels. I ended up taking some time off without pay (yes, it was hard but I had to do it). Take some time to heal yourself - body and mind. For some, a weekend or week or so will help. For me, it was a few months. The great thing about nursing is there are many different fields you can work in. I switched from hospice to school nursing. I never in a million years thought about school nursing! I went on the interview just so I could "practice" an interview and to my great surprise, I wanted it badly. It's completely different than I ever would have thought and I love it. No, it doesn't pay as much as other areas but the benefits (vac time) are definitely worth it. I initially ended up taking a PRN job on the weekend and pretty much worked when I wanted to. I found I was able to make it on the smaller salary and left the PRN job.

Long story short, don't give up yet! Take a little time for yourself to heal, then look for nursing jobs you'd never even thought about. You'd be surprised what you find.

Good luck!

mc3 :hug:

Specializes in 4. Has 7 years experience.

Although I have to experience burn out, I suggest finding a new job ASAP. When are others going to learn that life is not about money & money doesn't make you happy. I have wanted to be a nurse since I was 19 & it took me almost 20 yrs to become an LVN. I am now taking my RN pre-reqs & absolutely LOVE being a nurse. I know it is the right profession for me. Now there are many other jobs you can do as a nurse. You can work for a health insurance company as an Appeals Nurse or Medical Review Nurse. They are on production but pay is decent. Check online at Anthem.com. You don't need experience either. It is a desk job & you have all the benefits of a cubical. It wasn't for me as I wanted a hands on nursing job & I hated being indoors all day. There is also home health that you can do and you are independent. So motivate yourself before you feel worse & start applying elsewhere. As soon as you start applying out, hopefully you will start feeling better. You seriously need to set time aside for yourself & meditate. Focus on the big picture & don't stress yourself out. Things will be ok. :)


180 Posts

Has 20 years experience.

For me personally, I had to leave nursing for a while because of burn out. I have been in school for over 2 years, initially to get my RN but through a strange set of circumstances, I ended up doing the paralegal studies program. I completed the program with the exception of an internship. I started a paralegal internship and realized that this was not something that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. The only thing I could see myself doing was nursing, so now I am in my final semester of nursing prereq's before hopefully gaining admission into the LPN to RN accelerated program. I worked as an LPN for over 15 years before I decided to do something else, and after 2 years of preparing to do something else I have decided what I really want. I want to be a nurse! It took some distance to give me a renewed appreciation for nursing. I know there will be days where I will still wonder what I have gotten myself into, but after really coming so close to no longer nursing, I at least know what I am meant to do. If you can take some time outside of nursing to look at other options it may give you a clearer view of what you need to do as well. Wherever your path leads you, I wish you luck and hope that you find happiness and contentment!


16 Posts

I needed a change after working in Nursing homes for a couple of years and tried Pediatric home health. It has its unique stressors but you don't have the huge med passes like in nursing homes. It is a much slower pace and can be rewarding.


351 Posts

After 3 years as an STNA and 2 years as an LPN in LTC I had to walk away. I love the elderly but the massive work load, no breaks, and constant pressure was too much. I took an almost $5 pay cut and went to a family practice. Best choice I have ever made. I love nursing again! Sure there are still hectic, chaotic times but the difference is you are working part of a team instead of what feels like a solo mission in LTC. Paid holidays off, work every fourth saturday, and have good benefits. There are other things you can do as an LPN besides LTC, look into different options like corrections, occupational health, school nursing. GL!

kythe, LPN

261 Posts

Specializes in LPN. Has 16 years experience.

I know it's been a while since I posted here, but I thought I would give an update. I used up my paid LOA and am currently looking for another job in a different specialty. There isn't much out there for LPNs aside from nursing homes, but I have seen opportunities in clinics, group homes, and outpatient psych centers. It wouldn't pay as well, but that is no longer a top priority for me.

I've just come to a point (after 5 years) where I can't do nursing homes anymore. I'm tired of the heavy workload and frequent criticism with little encouragement from management, as well as being in a field where I get close to people who decline and pass away, rather than recuperate. I have found myself completely drained, rather than emotionally nourished by this job, so its time to move on.


623 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Documentation Specialist, LTC.

I'm a LPN in the process of changing environments myself. I thought I was burned out from being in an office for so many years, but it's the whole LTC scene all together. I adore the elderly and working with them, and thought I would never want to go anywhere but LTC, but the corporate greed and lack of caring for employees by upper management has gotten ridiculous. Too many LTCs these days employ warm bodies who care about nothing other than a pay check. The good nurses and CNAs go where they are appreciated and paid for their hard work, so sadly patient care suffers all because of the almighty dollar :(

Good luck to you OP! I'm glad you had time to really think about where you want to go from here :)