Job Flip-Flopping: When Will I Find My Place?

This is just a short story about how my career has gone so far. I have a hard time staying in one place; I constantly chase the perfect position and sometimes, I feel like I just can't be happy with anything. Nurses General Nursing Article

My career has been marked by one main constant - change! Can change really be constant? Read my story and decide for yourself.

I started my career as a home health nurse. I was really happy with it for a while because I got to spend one-on-one time with my patient and I made (what I considered at the time) good money. But after about a year, I was looking for something else.

Home health nursing was wearing me and my car out. I was putting about 600 miles on my car every week and I was working about 80 hours a day. My poor husband told me, "I feel like I live alone because you are either at work or working at home." And he was right! I had a huge territory, and I saw 7-10 patients a day. I was constantly being asked to pick up extra work because there were not enough RNs. This got old, and besides, I became a nurse to work in a hospital.

This led me to my second job: working on a cardiac step-down unit. I loved this too! My job was 10 minutes from home, I didn't have to bring home any paperwork or documentation, and (what a privilege!) I was given health insurance and paid time off. I thought I was in heaven (again).

So what happened? I was working with some really snooty nurses who didn't like new people at all, it seemed. This made me feel sort of lonely for 36 hours a week, and my pay actually went down.

My husband and I had always wanted to do travel nursing, so I got signed up with an agency and off we went! That was a really fun time in life, filled with so many adventures, good pay and more choices. Travel nursing is full of change: a new hospital every 13 weeks. This was good for me. I guess I'm sort of gypsy at heart. I loved moving around all the time. I loved the change. Every new place was a new start and by the time I started being temperamental about the hospital, it was time to go and start over again.

What could possibly go wrong, you ask? Well, living in an RV or a hotel most of the time started feeling cramped. I missed my (grown) kids because I was away from home so much of the time, and about this time I was also feeling really burned out in hospitals.

To give myself a new change, I decided to go back to home health. Here is my current problem. Working in home health requires being available 5 days a week to make enough money. I thought it would be a good trade-off for the reduced stress compared to the stress level I was feeling hospitals. But it has been less than 6 months and already I am tired of working 12 hour days 5 days a week. I am tired of having to call doctor's offices on my days off. I am tired of working all day in the field only to come home and have to document, answer emails, call patients to set up my next day, and I'm tired of being tired. I miss having 4 days off every week.

Yes, I have applied and been offered another hospital job. Will this make me happy this time? I sure do hope so.

Before the comments start - I have considered other types of nursing. I have looked at and applied to many non-hospital and home health jobs. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get an interview for a single one. Additionally, I really do love 3-12s, and I have only seen that in hospitals. I realize that I am going to have to accept the fact that no job is going to be perfect. I think I've done that. I hope I've done that.

If I am to be 100% honest here, I know that working for myself is the only answer that is going to make me feel satisfied in the long run... and I am working on it ?

Specializes in ARNP.

I think I’m going to be like you! Pretty much ruled out med surg as a place I don’t want to be!!

Specializes in ARNP.
On 7/11/2019 at 9:42 AM, myoglobin said:

To me it sounds like the travel nursing offers the best combination of pay, and work-life. Perhaps, this could be made even better by working as a travel nurse in a higher paying state like California. Perhaps, you could work three, three month contracts per year and make as much as regular job and then take three months off back "at home". Perhaps, as a travel nurse if you upgraded the camper/RV to a somewhat bigger model this would help in that you would have more space and better living conditions.

Another thought....Travel nursing in your own area. Most agencies allow you to specify how far from home, I know several who travel in nearby towns and return home each night.

Have you thought about case management/discharge planning either in the hospital or for an insurance company ?

Specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.

I've applied with insurance companies a couple of times. I got an interview, but not the job.

I relate to this so much! Working in ICU, I watched nurses drop like flies with back injuries. I tried SAR, and just like you, I was happy for a while. After 12-18 months, I get discontent. My latest move was to FNP working 5 8-hour shifts in a clinic. I often bring work home with me and chart late into the evening. After only 12 months, I'm already feeling like I can't keep this up long-term.

I agree, I need to be independently wealthy and volunteer when and where I choose.

2 hours ago, aingram71 said:

I relate to this so much! Working in ICU, I watched nurses drop like flies with back injuries. I tried SAR, and just like you, I was happy for a while. After 12-18 months, I get discontent. My latest move was to FNP working 5 8-hour shifts in a clinic. I often bring work home with me and chart late into the evening. After only 12 months, I'm already feeling like I can't keep this up long-term.

I agree, I need to be independently wealthy and volunteer when and where I choose.

"I agree, I need to be independently wealthy and volunteer when and where I choose."?...luv this....

I appreciate your honestly about the FNP. I have thought about doing it but something doesn't sit right with me concerning it. I have seen too many frazzeled looking NPs. Some look more burned out than the RNs on the floor. The role reminds me of a doctors role but with less pay if you work for a doctor. I am considering HIM. I have so many classes for it already. It will be HIM or a coder position. I have seen RN coder positions. We will see.

Specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.

Just an update for anyone who might be interested.... I did take the hospital job and I did a week of orientation.

To my great wonderment and utter surprise I REALLY think I will love this hospital!!!

My husband who is not medical has cautioned me that I may be setting myself up for disappointment, but I really have all the warm fuzzies about this place.

I went in sceptical with a "I hope they are not bs-ing too much" attitude, but so far they have done many things that truly make me feel really good about it.

Wish me luck!!

And BTW this will give me more days to focus on Etheria Wellness, which is one reason to get out of home health.

I really don’t see “job hopping” in nursing as a negative.. It’s experience & a form of learning that can’t be gained from a book. You can be a “specialized” nurse, but I would argue that you are also expected to be a “generalist” overall - if you think about the difficult cases you run across in nursing, they’re often only difficult because what you are seeing is outside of your normal routines in your (current) specialty. A new-grad learns the common stuff in your specialty pretty quickly.

I think recruiters & HR people have a natural distaste for “job hoppers” that is actually contrary to their organization’s own benefit. The recruiter role is to plug-in a McNurse into whatever hole there is in the organization and to keep them in that box as long as possible for expediency. You can be an expert in everything that can possibly go wrong in your job by doing the same job for so long that you’ve “seen everything”, or by working for a period of time in other specialties.

A nurse that’s been around the block in different areas of healthcare can see early signs & symptoms & patterns based on the other roles they’ve held. A nurse that’s worked as part of an awesome team knows when they walk into a place with a sick team. They might have the experiences to help keep the ship afloat - they might just run away - and both options are valid choices..

The biggest problem for HR and recruiting in our current healthcare system as it relates to “job hopping” is that previous employers give new employees a basis to judge between empty jingoism about “doing the right thing” and actually experiencing a culture that expects everyone in an organization to actually do the right thing. If you’ve ever worked for a company that actually tries to behave ethically, you know pretty quickly when you’re hired by a jingoistic pretender. And I think everyone here knows how many jingoistic pretenders there are in healthcare today.

Specializes in ARNP.

I can’t wait to read all the responses because I feel like I’m reading my own story here. Before I read everything and make suggestions, I’m trying to get my bearings here. It sounds like you’re in a career change if you’ve been an RN for six years but your children are grown? My nursing career is short and was a career change. And I think that’s my problem. I have always worked high integrity professional jobs, and never dealt with some of the rudeness and some of the lack of structure and fly by the seat of your pants as I see a nursing so far. I think that’s been my problem is adjusting from a truly autonomous, highly structured, truly empowered world to hospital nursing, which is what I’ve done so far. It feels like factory work to me. I did home health care also for a short time, it just wasn’t a good fit at the time. I hope we both find our answer!

Specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.


I've had a few career changes. Nursing now after years of no medical management and customer service.

What got me the most about nursing is the way so many hospitals treat nurses as disposable. "If you don't like it here you can just leave" is that attitude regardless of how unfair or unrealistic the expectation is.

Luckily for me, I found a place where I really like working... So far... It's only been 3 months. The problem here is the pay is low... I may love it, but may not be able to afford to work here long term.

It's always something.