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Leaving first job after 1 year

by JulietRN JulietRN, BSN (New) New Nurse

Specializes in Cardiac ICU. Has 2 years experience.

I am currently in my first job out of nursing school, and am extremely unhappy with my unit. I love the specialty and my patients (for the most part), but I am completely drained by the unit politics and a passive-aggressive Staff Leader/charge nurse/“educator” who hovers over me and is repeatedly reminding me of my new nurse mistakes (none of which have caused harm). My unofficial “contract” is for two years (one of which I’m committed to the unit I was hired on to, then I can move to another unit in the hospital if I want for year #2). I say “contract” because I signed nothing, and many, many, many of the nurses on my unit transfer or leave the hospital entirely before the 1 year mark. The only penalty I’ve heard is that the hospital will not give me a recommendation, which is one of the big reasons I’m here to begin with.

Some additional info... I moved across the country by myself to take this job. This is a reputable hospital and would help me get into grad school someday if I decide to go that route, and I was looking for a new big adventure. Well.. Coronavirus hit two months after I moved here, so I have been struggling to make friends, do not feel comfortable or safe going out to explore the city due to the pandemic, and am not connecting with anyone on my unit. I feel like I’m just working and hiding at home, alone, on my days off. I’ve been seeing a counselor but know that I am still fighting a deep sense of depression and regret. Because of all this, I want to leave this hospital at the one year mark and move back home/closer to home. I’m just scared what that’s going to mean for my resume. . My career is so new and I don’t want to make a bad decision, but my mental health is also important. I feel this is not an environment I can productively learn in because I am depressed, and because I feel unsupported by those who are more experienced/tasked with being my “educators”. I worked last night and felt I couldn’t safely approach any of the nurses without judgement, which happens often. Our patients are extremely sick, so I always ask anyways, but I leave feeling stupid and judged. My mistakes have also been brought up repeatedly, and my educator has gossiped about them so the entire unit knows (again, no one has gotten hurt). I understand wanting to enforce a point so mistakes aren’t repeated, but it’s getting to the point where I feel like I’m not allowed to move on and grow from them, if that makes sense. Like I’ve given them fuel to “attack the newbie” so now I’m stuck reliving it.

if I do stay at this hospital, I will definitely transfer units at the end of the first year. But there’s a huge part of me that just wants to leave and go home. I don’t want to live my life feeling like this. But I also don’t want to damage the brand new career I worked so hard to achieve and feel that I could be really good at one day.

Sorry for the long post. I’m a little lost.
thanks for the input in advance.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Moving on after one year is acceptable. Moving back home is understandable.

Have you found a job back home?

JulietRN, BSN

Specializes in Cardiac ICU. Has 2 years experience.

I haven’t started applying because my first year isn’t over for another 6 months, but there are fellowship positions posted in the specialty I am looking for (ICU).


Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 4 years experience.

I know exactly how you feel!

I left my job in float pool, to move to the other side of the country to work in ED. Then Covid hit, and it’s been a rough couple of months.

I’ve always been so independent, so I didn’t think anything of being so far away from everyone I knew would be such a problem. Plus I Was already living 2 hours away from my family before moving here. But I just feel isolated and have a bit of FOMO

Also the job is OK, like I don’t hate it, and I’m good at my job. But I already know in the short time I’ve been here, ED is not my specialty. it’s not my passion. I saw a job today, much closer to home, in a area of nursing I’ve always been passionate about but I’ve only just started to get myself settled here, which has been costly, and moving after only a few months will look bad on my CV. I can’t stop thinking about this job though.

March next year my student loan will be paid off, I’m aggressively saving every cent this year, will have a year of ED experience (plus 2.5 of float pool) and will have the freedom to do anything I want! That’s what’s getting me through.

For you Just keep focusing on getting that magical 1 years experience and then you will be free! Another 5 months and you can start applying to new jobs, and hopefully Covid will be over or slowed right down, to make it much easier.

JulietRN, BSN

Specializes in Cardiac ICU. Has 2 years experience.

it’s nice to know I’m not alone!! Thank you for sharing. I’m trying to hold on to the fact that I’ll be much more marketable with my first year of nursing behind me, and with this hospital on my resume, but it’s hard to look ahead at the next several months and anticipate the same thing I’ve been dealing with. I am diligent, but I am also human... and my mistake is being held over my head as a tool for taunting more than an opportunity for teaching.

This has been unfortunate timing to be starting this career and have made a gigantic move in the midst of a global pandemic. Doable, but it’s testing my strength. Have to say I am still thankful to have job security, even though my current position is nothing like I expected it to be. I am leaning towards moving in a few months, but we’ll see how things go as it gets closer.

I suppose we’re all learning what and where we “jive” in this field - I hope you find yours wherever you decide to go! Best wishes to you. Thanks for the input.

Edited by JulietRN

JulietRN your story is almost exactly like mine! New job, moving cross country, COVID. It is so hard to deal with all this, and I know exactly how you are feeling. PM me if you ever want to talk!

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

I know covid is a hard time to get a new job, especially in a non-bedside role (not sure if you are looking for that though), but it doesn't hurt to apply. If the area where you're hoping to move back to has been hit hard with covid they may be hiring. My unit is hiring because we are burned out on doing OT, but for now we have a bunch of travelers helping us.

I also moved for my first job and got too homesick plus the ratios were not safe, so I started applying at the 7 month mark and got a clinic job at home, then was able to take my time and get a hospital job a few years later. For me taking a break from the hospital was worth it for my mental health and happiness, plus you can learn in any job! Good luck and you can also PM me if you would like! Maybe you can come save my unit from covid, we have good teamwork! LOL

Left my first ICU after a year and have never regretted it. Your first years as a nurse are very formative and you’ll learn and grow more in an environment and situation that you are comfortable in 🙂 make the move.


Specializes in MedSurg. Has 2 years experience.

Hey! I understand where you're coming from. I moved across the state away from friends and family and signed a 2 year contract as a new grad. I came here not knowing anyone and only made a few real friends. I'm almost done with my first year and I'm about ready to leave my unit. Unfortunately I made a medication error and it stays on my record for 1 year, so I'm unsure if I'll have difficulty transferring units. I definitely experienced some bullying on my unit and don't always feel comfortable going to my coworkers for help, especially my charge nurse. I've been trying to stick it out and hold my head up high, but it's been very trying.


Has 1 years experience.

Hi! May I ask what you ended up doing? I am going through this right now.

JulietRN, BSN

Specializes in Cardiac ICU. Has 2 years experience.

@Maggiecbee hi! I had to reframe my perspective every day, and for every shift, but I managed to finish out my first year and then transferred units (still at the same hospital). I’m only 2 months in at the new job, but already amazed how different it is - in the best way possible. It’s a bummer this is such a relatable feeling for us new nurses, but I have learned from experience that it is survivable and there are better jobs waiting for you! If you can, stick it out through your first year- it will strengthen your resume, and more importantly, give you something to reflect back on. I say that with the caveat that no job is worth your mental health in the long run, so if you aren’t able to find relief to take care of yourself, move on sooner. Feel free to message me if you need!!