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3 Months Orientation: I Want to Quit.

by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Flustered,

Short answer- Hold off before talking to your supervisor. Give yourself a little more time before doing something you may regret. It can be viewed as unprofessional to leave your job at three months.

You are very close to being on your own and the negative preceptor experience is behind you. Your concerns going forward are workload and social fit.

Transitioning to acute care is challenging at best. Psych and Home Care do not prepare you with the skill sets needed for acute care nursing. Most likely you felt comfortable and competent at your previous jobs, and it must be a shock for you to be having this experience. Actually, it's a well documented phase of starting a new job, called Reality Shock in the literature. Know that you are not alone.

Good days followed by over the top crazy busy days is typical of acute care nursing. Every nurse has days when he/she feels like flying out the door- even seasoned nurses. Caveat- if your patient load is unsafe or you routinely are assigned more patients than is typical for like units in your area, that's a different story. You don't want to practice in a setting where patient safety is undermined and your license is at risk.

You already have shown that you have a good work ethic by your five year work history. You are going to do better on your own than with a non-supportive preceptor. It's even possible that this could still end up being your dream job.

Make an effort to get to know your coworkers. Take the first step. Ask them about themselves, their family, their children, pets, etc. Listen to what they have to say. Ask for advice and address people by their names. Asking for advice makes you appear warm and, ironically, competent. Bring a treat to the breakroom. Take the high road and forget whatever negative conversation you overheard. Reach out to one of the guilty parties.

Consider sticking it out until the six month mark and then re-evaluating. If you quit, will you be comfortable explaining a short tenure to your next employer? Are other jobs readily available?

In the end, you have to find the answer within yourself and go with your instincts. If this is truly not a good fit for you and you know it, then cut your losses and move on. If you are unsure, then give it more time. Whatever you decide, weigh the pros and cons thoughtfully so that you make the best career and personal choice for you.

What do our readers think? Quit...or stay?

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Edited by tnbutterfly

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

This is a common situation that many nurses find themselves in when starting a new job. Hang in there and really take to heart the great advice that Nurse Beth gave you.

Let us know how things go.

Take a bit more time to hit your stride, Flustered. I am an RN with 30+ years of nursing experience, including 15 on a very busy telemetry med-surg unit. There are days when I feel exactly as you do! We are caring for sicker, more complex patients on these units every day. It will take you much more than 3 months to feel comfortable on such a unit since you are coming from a job where you utilize such different skills.

Additionally, I hope whoever supervises the nursing preceptors in your hospital gives you an opportunity to critique their performance as well. They need to know that your preceptor wasn't the best one for this job. Hospitals spend a lot of money training new nurses and if your experience is typical for this particular preceptor, new nurses to your unit will be leaving in droves! Good luck to you!

I say your health first. You don't have to list EVERY job on your resume'. This is 3 months it can be omitted. You took 3 months off for health reasons. Now, based on postings about nurse treatment I read on these sites, It sounds like Management, Prioritization & Communication training are very NECESSARY for nurses. It's very important to have a professional unit where people hare treated fairly & with respect. NOW GROW A THICK SKIN. :)

Like Nurse Beth, I say stay and see what happens. Take her advice, stay positive and strong. Know that acute care is extremely different than psyche. Also remember, that unfortunately, seasoned nurses eat their young. You, coming into acute care with little acute care experience are the young in this case. I have an interesting story about being a new hire at the facility at which I am now in upper management...I started as a floor nurse and was "trained" by two nurses who were just awful to me. They didn't answer questions, wouldn't show me facility processes and actually once closed the door in my face. Only two years later, I found myself "rescuing" one of those same nurses who was suspended from her charge nurse position because she was rude to patients and families. Guess what? She became my subordinate and has been a great worker for the past year. Take away? Hang is there, listen to Nurse Beth.


Specializes in NICU. Has 45 years experience.

I'm sorry to hear it said that leaving a job after 3 months is not professional. I was at one place for 18 years. I quit after 5 days at a new job. I am seasoned enough to know I do not have to put up with impossible work loads and nurses talking behind my back. I had 18 years of it and made a choice never to put up with that kind of work environment again. My job now is well staffed and professional just what I was looking for.

Mavrick, BSN, RN

Specializes in 15 years in ICU, 22 years in PACU. Has 30 years experience.

In addition to excellent advice from Nurse Beth, I am concerned about your use of "dream job" You had preconceived notions about what your new job was going to be, that you would be good at it and it would make you happy. Your expectations may be at odds with reality. I assume you became quite competent at your previous jobs after a couple of years. You are not near so competent now after only 3 months and you are still learning exactly what is expected of you in your new job. Not very satisfying to be the "dumb" new guy.

Unless the staffing is really atrocious/unsafe you will get more efficient and learn to incorporate better time management skills. With effort, you will learn to work with your new co-workers and feel part of the team. I would say give it a year test drive and if it's not a significant improvement by then, move on. Right now you are evaluating both the unit and yourself. 3 months is a very short time, 12 shifts if you're working 12-hour days.