Leaving bedside for health concerns

by angelsigns angelsigns (New) New Nurse

Specializes in cardiac. Has 7 years experience.


This is my 4th year of nursing. I have worked 3 years on a step down cardiac tele floor where I have worked as a preceptor and charge nurse. I left 3 months ago to the cardiac icu in hopes of having a better job experience. I was hoping to find some relief from the burn out I felt while working on cardiac tele. We take care of a lot of open heart patients on that floor and having to reposition them, ambulate them, etc while they are weak and almost total care has worn my body down.

I am only 27 years old and my body hurts every day so much. I have scoliosis so I live in chronic back pain but it has gotten so much worse. On my days off I feel so week and my entire body and back hurt. I feel like an old lady. Someone my age shouldn’t feel the way I feel.

I left to the icu 3 months ago hoping it would be better. I have realized it’s not. Not only that, my body, back, and neck pains hurt so much more. I think it’s from the higher level of stress caring for icu patients. I think I’ve been carrying the stress on my shoulders and my neck and upper back are so sore. I realized the ICU is also so much more stressful and I was not expecting to experience all this stress. I have a hard time eating sometimes because I clench my teeth so badly at night from the stress.

I don’t feel like I see any hope from here on out. And I am wondering if this is a sign for me to leave.

I didn’t want to be like all the new nurses who flee so soon. I was hoping at least going for 5 years at the bedside. I don’t see my over all health getting better.

I feel like a chicken and I feel like a weak person for deciding to leave.



Has 4 years experience. 471 Posts

You have to do what is right for you. I have seen some CXR of some bad spinal conditions and wonder how do those people get through the day! The fact that you have pushed yourself to work, even in pain, says volumes about you. You should be proud, but you need to realistic about this too. I have said before that nurses advocate for their patients, but need to advocate for themselves. Don't beat yourself up about moving on.

Take care.

Edited by juniper222

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 30 years experience. 32,333 Posts

^^^what those guys said.



Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience. 1 Article; 2,125 Posts

There is absolutely no reason that you need to stay any amount of time if your health is at risk and especially 5 years. I am sorry for your situation and agree with the others, you need to do what is right for you. Maybe look for a job with less stress and less physical work. Search this site and others for a different setting that interests you and that you think would help with your health issues. Taking care of yourself is neither being weak or a chicken. Please take care of yourself, it is most definitely OK and a good thing! Good luck.


"nursy", RN

Specializes in ICU, ER, Home Health, Corrections, School Nurse. Has 40 years experience. 289 Posts

22 hours ago, angelsigns said:

II feel like a chicken and I feel like a weak person for deciding to leave.

When I started in nursing 40 years ago, ICU was my dream job and I felt like the luckiest person to be able to do that kind of work. Throughout the years, I did all different kinds of nursing, away from the bedside. A few years ago I returned to ICU with the plan of getting my skills back and becoming a travel nurse. Let me tell you, ICU has changed over the years, and it went from being my dream job, to the job from h***. Nurses are burning out right and left, going home in tears, etc. etc. So long story short, you are not a chicken or a weak person. There may be ICU's (or med surg, or any unit) out there that provide good working circumstances, but they seem to be in the minority. I am now a school nurse, and just love it. I am sure you can find something else that would be less stressful and hard on your body, and would make you a happier person.

jobs in nursing whether they are on the floor or in critical care are tough on the mind and the body. the beauty is that once you get your skills and experience you can take nursing in all kinds of different directions. Perhaps your body is telling you to take better care of it. If that means walking away from bedside to teaching or managing or something else, so be it. Dont beat yourself up over some "5 year plan you made in ur mind" and do what makes you happy.

Edited by justanothersunshinenurse


speedynurse, ADN, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU. 544 Posts

100% agree with what Nursy said. I have seen where nurses go into the field with the best intentions (myself included)....and then realizing that it is no longer about providing patient care and being kind and empathetic, but instead meeting metrics, having overwhelming nurse-to-patient ratios (that even the most competent and brightest nurse cannot handle), and meeting patient satisfaction scores. It has become less about patient-centered care and more about time-centered care and processes. I see new graduate nurses who are struggling as they are going through the reality shock of nursing....often going home crying or feeling inadequate or like a failure. This is not the minority anymore, but is actually the norm.

At the same time, I struggle with leaving bedside nursing. I am definitely exhausted all the time and do not feel well physically. However, I feel guilty leaving my team and especially the newer nurses who need that support. It makes me smile when I see a new graduate nurse with relief on his or her face because I was able to encourage them for a few moments. I try to remember why I went into nursing and occasionally, I meet a patient or family who is truly grateful or who I know I actually helped or comfort - and it means everything.



Specializes in Supervisor. Has 10 years experience. 1 Article; 40 Posts

On 1/14/2020 at 11:13 AM, angelsigns said:

I feel like a chicken and I feel like a weak person for deciding to leave. 

You health trumps your profession.

Find a nursing gig that's safer.

Try outpatient ambulatory nursing for instance.


speedynurse, ADN, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU. 544 Posts

I hope you found a solution that works best for you and your health. Nursing can be so hard on the body.....

Lynker, LPN

Specializes in LTC, Rehab. Has 3 years experience. 255 Posts

Maybe look into a local clinic. They have many less duties, but are still extremely vital to the team. Maybe even an office RN. My mom is an administrative RN after many years of hard work in LTC, being a DoN and such, maybe you could look into that same path. Your options are endless. Don't kill yourself over your work though.