Losing my 1st Nursing Job and I feel helpless & hopeless

Nurses New Nurse


I'm so upset and feel as though I've painted myself into a corner. I'm a new nurse and I was hired onto an amazing PCU floor where I stayed for 4 months before I went on maternity leave. I loved the challenge of this unit, the patients are moderately unstable, you have to stay on top of their labs, constantly assess and keep a close eye on the telemonitor. Since returning from my leave, I've become a completely different and incompetent nurse. I find myself "scared" and "nervous" around my unstable patients, praying that they don't "go down the tubes" during my shift. Ever since I returned, I've had difficulty concentrating, identifying potential problems/risks for my patients and prioritizing care. It's as though I have some block that doesn't allow me to think as critically as I used to. At home, I feel apathetic; I've lost far too much weight, I don't have an appetite, and my usual interests (reading, exercising, playing with my children) is simply gone. For the past 3 weeks, I've become nauseous before my shifts just because I feel completely stressed before I report onto the floor. I've had several meetings with my manager in which she asked me what do I think could've possibly led to this complete transformation in my ability to critically think.

I ended up going through my EAP last week and was ultimately diagnosed with moderate depression. My new doctor wants me to go on a medical leave of absence and begin taking Prozac in hopes of addressing my depression. I called my manager and told her what was going on and she told me that I was eventually on the path to getting written up and that a leave was within my best interest. The only option that I have at this point in time is to take the leave, during which I can still apply to positions within the hospital and still get treatment, or get the write up which would prevent me from getting a job at this hospital that I love. I understand my manager's response since I'm posing a safety risk for my patients and I agree that I need to take the leave. I'm really concerned about being away from the unit floor for too long because I will loose my technical skills but once again, the patient's saftey is the priority. Unfortunately, light duty isn't available either.

I'm meeting with my manager in 2 hours and I feel as though I'm going to pass out from anxiety. I can't believe that I'm going to have to start looking for work again and I'm terrified that I won't find another job. I really love nursing--I was so happy and proud to graduate from nursing school and start my career. At this point, I just want to work as a nurse, I don't care what kind of unit I'm on--I feel as though my career has just come to a standstill. If anyone has any suggestions on how I could maintain my skillset while I'm on leave (any particular online training modules or books) I'd really appreciate it.

Specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health.

I'm afraid I don't have any advice for you as far as how to keep up your skills while being on leave, in fact I would suggest you use your leave to get yourself better, as that is what it is for.

When you are ready to come back to work, perhaps look at taking a job in which the patients are much less acute, and maybe you can work your way back up to the type of unit that you are on now.

Your nursing career is FAR from over and you will feel better about everything after you have taken this leave and gotten yourself better. Good luck!

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

Having a baby immediately after starting your first nursing position would challenge pretty much anyone. Take the leave to get better. Nursing will still be there after. Whether you will return easily or not is still to be determined. Do not anticipate the worst. Don't anticipate at all. Take care of today. A healthy you will be better equiped to deal with tomorrow.

A PCU of all places should be able to recognize the effects of postpartum depression. This is a well-understood, treatable condition and as temporary as any other similar condition. Your obstetrician should be able to refer you to a specialist if s/he isn't comfortable managing this. Take the leave, heal, recover, and thank your manager for being so understanding in letting you come back when have done so. She should be able to do that.

Thanks for the words of encouragement. My manager pretty much told me that I was getting terminated if I remained on the unit floor so I don't have any choice but to go on a leave and look for work elsewhere and definitely someplace with a lower acuity.

Taking a leave was the best thing. Take care of yourself. As not.done yet. said, "nursing will always be there after". Good luck with everything.

Specializes in Oncology, OR, Surgical, Orthopedics.

After battling depression for years, I have learned the meaning of 2 common phases. 1. You can not care for anyone if you do not care for yourself first. 2. When a door closes, a window opens. I was terminated from my 1st 2 positions because I didn't have my depression under control. When you have this ILLNESS, your mind is not at it's best, and you don't think clearly. This does put your patients at risk, and makes you more anxious, and the cycle cintinues. Take the leave, get better. I do recommend going to a psychologist and a psychiatrist. They are medical professionals, so they do know how the industry works, plus it really helps to talk it out. A psychiatrist deals with this stuff everyday vs. your other doctors who see it in the office. They also more familiar with medications, which make work better or faster for you. Don't lose hope! Like I said, I have been there, and this year is my 7th year as a nurse. It will all work out.

Specializes in Dialysis.

While I didnt lose my job or have to take a leave... I did have a battle with depression that affected my work. Tie depression with anxiety and add in changing my meds for ADD then add 35 LTC pts I was responsible for and is was like typhoon juan was roaring thru my life. My supervisor at the time who also was a good friend pulled me aside and said "what is going on with you??? Your not the same person you were 6 months ago"

I felt terrible... like I was weak, a bad nurse etc but that wasnt the case at all. It took about 4 months but I got myself straightened out. You will too just take the time to heal yourself and go from there.

Specializes in Forensic Psych.

I'm so sorry you're going through all of that. I struggled with postpartum anxiety after all three of my children were born, and I know for a fact I could not have gone back to stressful job 4 months after giving birth. When you're hit with anxiety/depression, things that once came easily become a struggle, but in the case of a postpartum hormonal culprit, know that it does get better. I think women are still all too unaware of the changes and issues we face AFTER the baby is born, even with all the awesome information that has been spread in the last decade.

I agree that you're doing the right thing by going on leave. Get the help you need. Enjoy your little one. Good luck!

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