Injured nurse, out of work a year, feeling lost

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by lostinjurednurse lostinjurednurse (New) New

My low back was injured working in ICU in 2014. I had severe daily pain for three months. It took two years to stop having daily moderate pain. I have also been out of work for about a year. My background in nursing is CCU, ICU/CTICU, cath lab, ER, outpatient endoscopy and preop/PACU. I tried to go back to ICU six months after my injury, then developed rheumatoid arthritis. It isn't severe, but I ended up resigning from my ICU job. I started working at an outpatient orthopedic surgery center in preop/PACU, and then started having trouble with my left hip. I was diagnosed with a labral tear that I may need surgery on at some point. In that job I went from full time four 10-hr shifts per week all the way down to only working 2-4 hours per day. I talked with my husband and we decided I would quit working until I healed.

And now here I am a year later and I feel like I want to try to go back to work, but I have no idea where to go. I feel like the only places I will be able to get a job are in hospitals or outpatient surgery centers. I now live in a remote US territory with minimal job opportunities. Currently available is outpatient dialysis, acute care at a hospital that is very desperate for nurses, or a clinic that also has a surgery center.

I used to be extremely confident, and critical care was my passion in nursing...I have CCRN, which I worked so incredibly hard to obtain. Now I feel like over the last several years I've forgotten everything. I have crippling self doubt. I started seeing a psychologist and they diagnosed me with PTSD from my injury. So I am dealing with emotional/mental struggles. I'm terrified to step foot back in a hospital, but I am struggling to let go of everything I worked so hard for.

I had an interview for ICU today, but told them I can't start until April. My psychologist thinks it isn't a good idea for me to work in ICU again, at least not while I have such high anxiety levels. And for the sake of myself and my patients I also don't think it's a wise choice.

I applied for the clinic/surgery center today. Really the only other thing is outpatient dialysis, but I really have zero interest in working there. The clinic I applied to is a Seventh Day Adventist clinic and they are big on preventive care and eating a plant based diet, which I am also passionate about...so it may be a good fit for me physically and emotionally.

I guess I am just looking for some support from my fellow nurses, and any advice one can give me. Has anyone out there been through something similar and felt utterly lost with so much self doubt it causes depression/anxiety? I also feel like I've lost my passion to be a nurse, which is insane to me! I am in therapy! I know I need it. :)

twinmommy+2, ADN, BSN, MSN

Specializes in ED. Has 17 years experience. 1 Article; 1,289 Posts

I don't have remarks besides my sympathy goes with you. I also have daily back pain sometimes crippling.

Icooka4u

Icooka4u

99 Posts

My low back was injured working in ICU in 2014. I had severe daily pain for three months. It took two years to stop having daily moderate pain. I have also been out of work for about a year. My background in nursing is CCU, ICU/CTICU, cath lab, ER, outpatient endoscopy and preop/PACU. I tried to go back to ICU six months after my injury, then developed rheumatoid arthritis. It isn't severe, but I ended up resigning from my ICU job. I started working at an outpatient orthopedic surgery center in preop/PACU, and then started having trouble with my left hip. I was diagnosed with a labral tear that I may need surgery on at some point. In that job I went from full time four 10-hr shifts per week all the way down to only working 2-4 hours per day. I talked with my husband and we decided I would quit working until I healed.

And now here I am a year later and I feel like I want to try to go back to work, but I have no idea where to go. I feel like the only places I will be able to get a job are in hospitals or outpatient surgery centers. I now live in a remote US territory with minimal job opportunities. Currently available is outpatient dialysis, acute care at a hospital that is very desperate for nurses, or a clinic that also has a surgery center.

I used to be extremely confident, and critical care was my passion in nursing...I have CCRN, which I worked so incredibly hard to obtain. Now I feel like over the last several years I've forgotten everything. I have crippling self doubt. I started seeing a psychologist and they diagnosed me with PTSD from my injury. So I am dealing with emotional/mental struggles. I'm terrified to step foot back in a hospital, but I am struggling to let go of everything I worked so hard for.

I had an interview for ICU today, but told them I can't start until April. My psychologist thinks it isn't a good idea for me to work in ICU again, at least not while I have such high anxiety levels. And for the sake of myself and my patients I also don't think it's a wise choice.

I applied for the clinic/surgery center today. Really the only other thing is outpatient dialysis, but I really have zero interest in working there. The clinic I applied to is a Seventh Day Adventist clinic and they are big on preventive care and eating a plant based diet, which I am also passionate about...so it may be a good fit for me physically and emotionally.

I guess I am just looking for some support from my fellow nurses, and any advice one can give me. Has anyone out there been through something similar and felt utterly lost with so much self doubt it causes depression/anxiety? I also feel like I've lost my passion to be a nurse, which is insane to me! I am in therapy! I know I need it. :)

Been there "felt that". I would say stay alert in keeping your safety card(s) (CPR, First AID, ACLS, ect) current and make sure you know when your nursing license renewal is coming up and keep that paid, as well as staying current with your C.E. credits. Next take a look here in "Nurses" & Specialties". There are so many different types and areas of nursing that I was not aware of before coming to allnurses. It just may be that you are unable to return to your fav area of nursing right now, vs a couple of years from now or in the same capacity (i.e. switch to the administrative side, Policy, Quality Assurance, Medical Coding & Billing,Teaching, ect).

Goodluck

Finds some other areas and set up volunteer exp to see if you would enjoy it, and if so, get

current on their trending topics, and foundational practices through nursing journals (free at your graduating college/aluminai, online national organizations, ect).

Is it possible to return to school for an advanced nursing degree to secure a less physical nursing job? With your disabilities, you would qualify for assistance with this. Where I live we have this place called ACCES -VR (formerly VESID Vocational Education Services for Individuals with Disabilities). They have programs where they pay for you to return to college (public/SUNY) for a different career, or help set you up in your current area with a job, but let you try it out. They pay your salary so you and the company can see if it's a good fit, and after the trial time period, a decision is made.

AliNajaCat

AliNajaCat

1,035 Posts

My therapist used to say there's nothing like feeling better to make you feel better. :) She meant that feeling better is a process that builds on itself. It sounds by your description that the SDA clinic could be a good fit for that and other reasons.

I was a hotshot critical care nurse for a long time before circumstances made that impossible. I was in shock; I took the second CCRN exam ever given and kept it up all those years, thought I'd do it until I retired. But then.... life happened. And I said to myself, "WTF," and discovered a whole new me in a wholly new area. It was liberating in more than one way, not least because I was, in literally almost an instant in my first week, freed of my crippling fear and bereavement about leaving critical care.

You are still YOU. You have a lot of life ahead of you. Go live it. You won't be sorry.

Icooka4u, LPN - I am trying to find other opportunities where I am located, but they are very limited. Maybe the SDA clinic will come through for me. I hope I can find something I love as much as I loved critical care, so I can get my drive and passion back for nursing...I know it's still in there somewhere. I went through a very bitter, depressed time after my back injury. I'm over the bitterness I had, but I haven't gotten my passion back. I am almost certain that I experienced severe burnout the last couple of years I was in acute care. Hurting my back did not help. I'm not sure I'm eligible for any kind of vocational rehabilitation since I'm not marked disabled...even though I know that I definitely partially disabled. I never got labeled as such by a provider.

AliNajaCat - Thank you so much for sharing with me. I knew I couldn't be the only prior "hotshot" critical care nurse out there that life forced to move on. It is so difficult to let something go you once felt so strongly about, and put your heart and soul into. I burned my candle at both ends for too long, and it caught up to me. I'm trying to learn as much as I can from all of this, and one huge thing I have learned is I must take care of myself before I can take care of other people. I am only 30, so I do have my whole life ahead of me. I am glad I finally got into see a mental health provider. I never knew there was a such thing as "orthopedic PTSD," but glad to have some answers and I look forward to working through it all.

LessValuableNinja

LessValuableNinja

Specializes in Cardiac (adult), CC, Peds, MH/Substance. Has 8 years experience. 754 Posts

Start slow. It's in your nature to jump into something headfirst. But your body and brain can't quite agree. I'd advise looking for something part time or PRN at first. See how it feels, both physically and mentally. It sounds like you feel your opportunities are limited. Perhaps it would be helpful to look at them from a cost benefit perspective: toll on body and mind versus benefit. What would be the most pleasing to me and provide the release I need, while allowing me to ensure an acceptable level of pain and damage?

I applied for a PRN ICU job at a local hospital, and I had an interview and told them I could only do PRN, one day per week starting out. Well, when they sent over the job offer it was for part time, so I turned it down. They told me they didn't have a PRN job available when they sent the job offer, but they did not disclose that information during the interview. It is probably for the best though, because my heart really isn't in ICU anymore. I'm finally starting to feel like I can let it go.

I have applied for an insurance company case management job, the local SDA clinic, and a stand-alone birthing center. I have no experience in any of those areas, but I'm hoping I'll get an opportunity someplace I enjoy and that my body can handle. I've gotten a response from the birthing center and insurance company, but not the SDA clinic yet. No interviews have been scheduled yet. Other than that it looks like there are outpatient dialysis jobs available, but I really don't want to do that.

LessValuableNinja

LessValuableNinja

Specializes in Cardiac (adult), CC, Peds, MH/Substance. Has 8 years experience. 754 Posts

I generally read people pretty well. I'm wrong from time to time, but not often. While I feel PRN would be better for you, I don't believe you would be happy with insurance. Part time may be not half bad.

Ben_Dover

Ben_Dover

254 Posts

here's a huge cyberhug!!!!

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience. 6,823 Posts

The most important thing now, is to TAKE CARE OF YOUR BACK! Even one shift in ICU could jeopardize your healing process.

Rethink your attitude. You are NOT lost, you are exploring new opportunities. You are fortunate to be getting interviews and responses in different areas.

For me, passion is not required. I need a job I can do, somewhat enjoy, and bring home decent money.

Best of luck in your decision, let us know how it's going.

Been there,done that: That's the best advice I've gotten from anyone! Especially helpful is the advice to rethink my attitude, and the passion part. Makes sense, and thank you for sharing your perspective.

And yes, I don't think my back or mind can handle ICU again. I'm very fortunate and grateful to have a supportive husband that is okay with me taking my time getting back to work. A year without income has been difficult, though.

I'll keep you all posted.