Is this burnout?


I don't know what to do anymore.

Background... graduated in October as an LPN/LVN. Finished a preceptorship in med/surg, decided it wasn't really for me. I've been working on call in LTC since January (there are no permanent positions for new grads in my area) - I'm the charge nurse when I work a 12 hr shift, with 3-5 care aides for 30 residents (depends on time of day), and it has been fine so far. I am not overly stressed about the work - Nothing that seems out of proportion. My coworkers are great, everyone works more or less well together, very little 'ego' issues... my nurse manager is a lovely person, and always supports me in my work and in my requests for more/less staffing if need be, and I certainly enjoy the residents at the facility where I work.

So why am I so unhappy? I dread hearing the phone ring. I feel hunted.

In nursing school I hung my scrubs in the closet in their own little section, all freshly pressed. Now they are in a drawer. I don't even want to see them. I was excited to take some post-LPN/LVN courses/workshops, and my instructors in school thought I'd do well as an RN. I graduated at the top of my class. I just looked again at the college I planned on attending (more advanced wound care stuff was what I was going to take) and NOTHING interested me. I just don't really seem to care. There was no emotion or excitement at all.

I do a good job when I am working - I am present and thorough. But the work in uninteresting to me. I am not energized by it. The thought of continuing on to be an RN makes me feel sick.

I feel grateful that I have work, and I know there are many for whom nursing is a dream...

What should I do? Even if I were to quit eventually, how do I cope in the meantime? I feel like I was once passionate and excited about this, and I feel very cheated. Can I ever become interested again? How can I get some joy back in my life? The negative feelings are starting to extend everywhere and I feel paralyzed at every turn.

I want to enjoy this work. The best case scenario is that I can be excited about it... but I don't know how to get that feeling back.

I don't want to just 'wait and see' anymore. I think I've already been doing this for months...

Is this normal?

morte, LPN, LVN

7,015 Posts

i certainly am not a mental health professional, but i would suggest that it may be as much depression as burnout.

I would suggest you make an appointment with a psychologist psychiatrist...and go from there.


194 Posts

Maybe it's just the type of nursing you are currently doing? I used to work in L&D as a nursing student and now I work on a surgical unit as an RN. Not very exciting. Not very fulfilling. I have a few moments while working that I know I am making a difference for my pts with my care, but for the most part it's just pass pain meds and antibiotics. I miss the newborns and new moms, but I am grateful to have this first job as a learning experience and stepping stone for whatever lies ahead.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

You have stated that your job is fine - supportive co-workers and boss. Seems to me you have a bit of the "Peggy Lee syndrome" setting in . Note to non-boomers: one of PL's most famous songs was "Is this all there is?".... sort of an anthem for being let-down by situations that didn't live up to one's expectations.

When we are in hot pursuit of a goal (education, diet, career change, etc), we are completely focused on that goal. We idealize the goal - achieving it will make something wonderful happen. Otherwise, it would be hard to stay motivated, right? Unfortunately, rarely do all our dreams come true in the real world - certainly not due to only one event.

Just because you in a bit of a slump does not mean that there is anything wrong with you or that you need to seek pharmaceutical intervention! No one's life is perpetually cheerful and upbeat. We all have cycles of highs and lows. It's not about your job or any one thing. You are in a low place right now and have a case of the blahs, but that will eventually subside. Your job should never be the entire focus of your life or even the most fulfilling part of your life.

My advice? Decide to be happier and do something about it. Day dream a little - what gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you feel good about yourself. What are you passionate about? What is missing? Make some changes in your life to include more of these things. Chances are, they are not huge changes. In my case for instance, I realized that I need periods of solitude to stay in balance - getting away from other people's demands and re-charging my batteries by doing something creative or simply reading or goofing off.

Eventually, you may decide to return to school - or not. This will not have any bearing on your worth as a nurse or as a person.


932 Posts

I could have written this first post. My job is the job that I would have written for myself, if I had a "what will I be when I grow up" essay. Its ideal. There are some issues, but much less than what many other people have to put up with, and the stress level is fairly low. Yet, I am unhappy.

Not sure how I will handle it, but we'll see how the next few months play out. I hope you find something to inspire you again. We all deserve to have that in our lives.

Annaiya, NP

555 Posts

Specializes in PICU. Has 5 years experience.

What was it about nursing that you used to like? Do you think your expectations of nursing are not aligned with reality? Or are you just not doing the type of work that gets you excited?Getting your RN would allow you more variety and responsibility, which you might enjoy more, unless you just don't enjoy patient care. You sound really bored with your job, so maybe you just need a change?

Specializes in OB/GYN, Peds, School Nurse, DD.

I wonder if you might be depressed? You say you've lost interest in things you used to like, you're not excited or energized, you feel paralyzed. Going from the school environment to the work environment is a huge change. It sounds like you're working in a job that wasn't your cup of tea to start with. I don't think it's the environment itself--your coworkers sound great and you're work load doesn't appear to be overwhelming. Are you doing anything other than working? Do you need to find something to fill up your non-work hours? Do you have friends outside of work? Does it feel like your life has gotten one-sided, perhaps?

Maybe before you quit you might think about seeing a therapist to help you sort this out. Changing jobs might help, but if you're putting yourself right back into the same situation you're not going to be happy--again. Think about it, okay?