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Is this nursing burnout?

Nurses   (1,162 Views | 9 Replies)

jpicurn has 19 years experience and specializes in PICU, peds, nursing instructor.

710 Profile Views; 25 Posts

Hi all, I have been struggling a bit lately. I have been a nurse for a long time (20+ years) and have worked in many areas throughout my career. I currently work in a PACU and have "tried" to love it for over two years. It's hard. I don't love it, I am constantly hating both my commute (over one hour in am's, 45-50 min home) and the job, and have lost my passion for nursing in general. I am very kind and a very organized and thorough nurse, but the job is just that....a job. And one I hate. I am also a nursing instructor and that is hard and stressful, and don't want to teach full time either. I went to bed crying again last night because I just want to do something meaningful and I don't mind if it's working as a bank teller, working at Kohl's, or a desk job somewhere. My family life is busy and hectic, I enjoy being outdoors, reading, and cleaning on my days off, and I have plenty of friends and family. I just don't feel like my husband understands, most of my friends are not in healthcare, and (on paper) this should have been my dream job! My schedule is not terrible, I have some flexibility, but nursing hours are unlike other jobs and I am tired of missing events at home and tired of all of it. Should I change hospitals/jobs again *preferably closer to home* or just hang it all up and try something else entirely? I don't want to continue to complain and do nothing; I would rather be the change and maybe find something that will bring some joy? I don't know what to do. Money is important, and being at the top of the pay scale is nice, but I am very underappreciated, overworked, and overwhelmed. I have applied for and received offers for school nursing, which I have turned down because of the hours worked vs. salary. I don't know that Mon-Fri is right for me after so many years of shift work and 12 hrs/10hrs/8 hrs scheduling, but I am willing to try anything. Is this normal? Or should I just plug along? Thanks for listening.....

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JBudd has 39 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

2 Followers; 1 Article; 3,764 Posts; 35,975 Profile Views

It does sound like burn out but more like depression (not that I am in any way qualified to diagnose that), before dropping it all for less, seek some counseling. If, on paper, it is a dream job, maybe someone could help you have it be that.

Underappreciated, overworked and overwhelmed? doesn't sound like a dream job to me; but you already considered and rejected a change of venue. Again, why? that's what counseling can help with.

Hugs to you my sister.

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TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

14 Followers; 3,784 Posts; 40,817 Profile Views

Sounds like burnout to me and I think you need a breather. Just how important is the money? Can you just take a year off to regroup?

I just don't know that a change of venue would make any difference. If your dream job is a nightmare, where do you go from there? I know the feeling of being chronically overwhelmed and unable to get off the hamster wheel. And no, no one understands who isn't doing it themselves.

If it's possible to do without the paycheque, I would look at getting a recommendation from your doctor that you need a break for the sake of your health. That'll help you sell it to your husband. Good luck.

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275 Posts; 5,387 Profile Views

jpicurn, no answers unfortunately, but I did want to commiserate. I read and reread your post and it continues to resonate with me. Except for a few minor details; your story is mine. I have been an RN almost 28 years (practically all of my adult life) and sadly, my light has flickered out also. I too, struggle to find meaning and have long entertained the idea of just leaving nursing completely. However, at my age, my emphasis is on building my retirement savings and I can ill afford the kind of salary that a non-nursing, service job would likely offer. Early in my nursing career, I knew of a nurse who quit nursing to become a postal carrier. I absolutely didn't understand it then (thought she was crazy)-but kind of get it now. The assembly line mentality, the inane policies, the politics, passive-aggressive coworkers, gossip, rude/condescending physicians... The only solace I find, is knowing that I (we) are not alone. Personally, I think that 3-day weekend getaways and mini vacations do help, as well as being outdoors and some form of regular exercise. Hugs!

Edited by morelostthanfound

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L-ICURN has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU.

90 Posts; 1,021 Profile Views

I am with you. The other day, I sent out 4 applications for jobs that I held prior to being a nurse. The problem is companies see that RN and think you'll leave because the money isn't the same. I'm in school right now, hoping that it will help move me away from the bedside. But I fear with the oversaturation of NPs, that's not going to happen either.

If your love of nursing is gone and you're convinced that it's not coming back, I'd say move on. But not before looking at your bills and retirement and seeing what financial position you're in. If you can tolerate teaching more, then try to make that a more permanent job.

I'm not married, so I bounce these issues off my parents. My father was the one who worked shift work, and he firmly believes that 12 hour shifts are the devil 🤣. He argues that 12s take away any chance of recuperating for the next day.

All I want is a normal life, and it sort of sounds like you do too, however you define normal. Is it possible to go part time? Maybe one less day will give you more of a chance to live life the way you want.

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jpicurn has 19 years experience and specializes in PICU, peds, nursing instructor.

25 Posts; 710 Profile Views

Thanks for the replies .....

To further answer some questions, I am working part time currently (two 12 hr shifts) but working full time hours most weeks. My home life is busy and I have two teenage sons who are in sports and school activities, and I am usually pretty busy at home on my days off.

I never felt this way about nursing prior to taking this job. I worked in a level one trauma hospital PICU for over 13 years, and had lots of stressful patients and families, but a wonderful team of nurses and docs to work with. I would cry over losing patients, or having bad outcomes, or feeling down when we admitted kids into hospice, your normal "triggers". I would eventually dust myself off, get out of the funk, and work hard. I felt like nights and weekends and holidays were my trigger to find a new job, because I had been working off shifts and missing out on some things @ home so I wanted better hours.

This job has been....challenging....from day one. It's like being in high school but worse. It has every variety of patient and shift, and I like that. Some of my coworkers are amazing, and I've been trying to focus on that. But it's hard. I don't feel "home" and I don't feel valued, and I work hard and try to be a good nurse every day. But other people have complained that our PACU is "toxic" and "catty" and the environment is just insane to work in. I have been making the best of it for over two years, and most days, I get to my car and just cry because I don't want to go back. I am now fighting insane traffic (welcome to days!) both ways sometimes, and when I get home, I have missed a lot with my family and feel guilty.

It is not an option for me to quit entirely, unless we want to sell our house and cars, and I like part time, although financially, we have been needing me to work more and more lately....so I don't know what the answer is. I have anxiety nonstop, I don't sleep the night before my shifts, and when I have asked my primary doctor, I am usually told, "It's normal, you're a busy working mom, this is life these days!" I get it.

Thanks for listening. I hope things get better soon. I just wish I had some answers.

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calliope26 has 7 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Med Surg, Hospice, Wound Care.

29 Posts; 1,411 Profile Views

Do you have enough PTO accumulated to take a couple of weeks off? Sometimes that amount of time will let you reflect on your most important priorities. I think you need another opinion than your primary doc is giving you on not sleeping well--losing sleep is often caused by anxiety, which is treatable. Find a good therapist to help guide you through these decisions, it might help clarify what you're struggling with. Best of luck!

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13 Posts; 567 Profile Views

I would recommend trying agency PACU work in your local area. I did that after feeling burned out in the ICU for the past 10 years and loved it. I would still be doing it if it weren't for the benefits that I needed. The health insurance requirements changed to requiring a three month full-time contract for benefits. I wanted to be a free-bird and make my own schedule like I had been for the past decade. It's great because you get to "try out" different facilities and that's how I found the one I work in now. It would give you flexibility with your kids and other job too. I made my own schedule and worked from 7am- 1 pm everyday. It was nice 🙂That's not the case everywhere and I occassionally did some 12's, but that was my normal routine for a long time. Many facilities don't want to pay for agency for the entire shift, but just for "rush time" to get lunches finished, etc. PM me if you want more info on my organization. They work all over the U.S., but you can do "local" travel too. I made my max distance 30 min. drive or less. A lot of it was day surgery, although still some hospital PACU as well and the change of pace was nice. The nice thing is that YOU get to say yes or no to working somewhere and make your own schedule. If you go somewhere and don't like it you don't have to go there again. Also, the pay difference is usually a bit higher for agency than full-time staff because of the flexibility and no benefits deal.

Edited by Sunshine716

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JBudd has 39 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

2 Followers; 1 Article; 3,764 Posts; 35,975 Profile Views

On 9/30/2019 at 11:55 AM, jpicurn said:

I have anxiety nonstop, I don't sleep the night before my shifts, and when I have asked my primary doctor, I am usually told, "It's normal, you're a busy working mom, this is life these days!" I get it.

Your primary is an idiot. You don't "got it", you got blown off. Find someone who will help with the anxiety, as Calliope said. My adult children all have anxiety in one way or another, and therapy helps!

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evarunnr1 has 41 years experience and specializes in icu.

2 Posts; 33 Profile Views

you are at a crossroad. it is time to move on. Learn to say no. This is one of the hardest things nurses can accomplish. we are passionate and always want to help. However, you have done alot, move on. Find something meaningful, stop teaching or cut way back on the teaching. If you still have to get a paycheck, do the finances and see how much. Then, if you want to stay in nursing, step into the era of agency. you walk in and walk out--doing the great job you always do, and lose the politics. it has saved me. as an ICU nurse and instructor, preceptor, committee addict, i am done stretching. i have started to back off on teaching. dropped 3 committees, and now i do much more for myself, outside of the hospital. i have been nursing since 1979, still passionate, worked management- stopped that nonsense, and still love my ICU. I just take care of me first now..

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