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My Reasons For Avoiding The Acute Care Hospital

Nurses Article   (52,454 Views 71 Replies 585 Words)

TheCommuter has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Case Management RN.

1 Follower; 228 Articles; 315,928 Visitors; 27,607 Posts

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Some nurses have never worked one day inside a traditional acute care hospital during the entire length of their nursing careers. How could this possibly happen? While I cannot speak for other nurses, I will provide an answer to the question that multiple people have asked: "Why don't you want to work at a major hospital?"

My Reasons For Avoiding The Acute Care Hospital

I've been asked the same question by members of allnurses.com, real-life coworkers, and even some of my own family members: "Why aren't you interested in working at a major hospital?"

My relatively short nursing career consists of experience in long term care, rehabilitation (acute and sub-acute), and psych. For the past two and a half years I've been employed at a small specialty hospital that provides acute rehabilitation services, and to be honest, I think it's wonderful when a patient discharges to home with the ability to walk and talk when he was bedridden and unable to speak just two weeks ago.

My career is about to traverse into a new chapter when I enter the realm of developmental disabilities nursing starting next week. Twelve years ago, when I was 19 years old, I was employed as a direct care staff member and caregiver at a group home in a residential area that housed six developmentally disabled clients. I mostly enjoyed working with this particular patient population and will be thrilled to finally work as a nurse in this specialty.

Meanwhile, let's venture back to the original question. . .Why do I not want to work at a major hospital? Honest introspection is a major part of my career decision. In addition, my experiences while attending clinical rotations during nursing school at multiple hospitals in two different states cemented my choice to avoid acute care like the plague, especially after seeing how appallingly the nurses were being treated. After much painstaking self-reflection, I realize that an acute care hospital job is not for me. Some people would interject and say, "Well, you'll never know unless you try it!"

To be perfectly blunt, I know my personality is not compatible with acute care. I'm a mellow type B girl who does not like responding to codes. I dislike dealing with changes in condition. I detest taking off orders that constantly change on the whim of the doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant. I cannot stand constantly performing procedural skills such as IV starts, Foley catheter insertions, nasogastric tube drops, or blood draws. I despise having to drop what I'm doing to address a stat order. I do not look forward to constant interaction with physicians, families, dietary staff, visitors, RT, and other people.

I hate the liability involved with acute care. I do not enjoy the idea of not knowing exactly what I'm going to walk into. I do not like making decisions NOW, and in acute care the nurse must make decisions NOW. Acute care involves a pace with which I'm not comfortable. I'm not an adrenaline junkie. My preferences include low acuity patients, low liability, minimal stress, and the same old routine. I know that several years of acute care hospital experience would be vastly beneficial to my career as a nurse. After all, you don't know what you don't know. However, if I would likely be unhappy during those years, why follow through with it? If I could steer clear of the acute care hospital for the remainder of my career, I'd be content.

Some uninformed people insist that real nursing only takes place inside the walls of the acute care hospital setting. People can think whatever they darn well please. As long as I'm happy, secure, and comfortable with the work I'm doing, that's all that matters to me. Patients outside the hospital setting need nurses, too.

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TheCommuter, BSN, RN, CRRN is a longtime physical rehabilitation nurse who has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a Registered Nurse.

1 Follower; 228 Articles; 315,928 Visitors; 27,607 Posts

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I really enjoyed reading your post. I am a new grad and I have always wanted to be an NP at a women's clinic. I dislike hospitals also. Our personalities seem very similar. I received a job offer at a cataract surgery center and after working a day, I found it was really low stress. I also received a "volunteer" opportunity at an acute care hospital in which I would put in 240 hours of my time to undergo preceptorship and when I'm done, if there are positions available at the hospital and they "like" me, I "might" get hired. I am just thinking about my future and I know that working in a hospital would definitely look good on resume because I could probably land a job anywhere. I would also be making almost double what I'll be making if I worked at an ASC. What is causing my dilemma is that I dont know if I could take the "chance" of getting hired, especially if I have a job offer right now. I don't even want to work in a hospital, so why would I take a chance of being slave and then not get hired. If I could please have your advice and opinion I'd appreciate it!

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TheCommuter has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Case Management RN.

1 Follower; 228 Articles; 315,928 Visitors; 27,607 Posts

If I could please have your advice and opinion I'd appreciate it!
Many nursing educators and experienced nurses will urge you to accumulate that golden year or two of experience at the exalted acute care hospital because it will open doors in your career due to the amazing foundation that it provides.

However, if you envision yourself being happy at the cataract surgery center and have a firm job offer there, I would go for it. Many nurses would kill for the chance to work daylight hours in a low-stress setting. Sometimes you must take the path less worn. In addition, there's no guarantee of any firm job offer at the hospital once your free 240 hour unpaid preceptorship is completed.

It would be nice if others would chime in with their advice on your situation. Good luck with whatever you decide.

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gonzo1 has 15 years experience.

23,099 Visitors; 1,695 Posts

Commuter-I so respect you. I do ER and ICU and before that I did physical therapy. I did go for the hospital job. But, you are right, it is not the only avenue. You touched on every hot spot of why most nurses hate the hospital. And most of us that work there are simply hostages to the higher pay.

It is refreshing to have someone, after careful review, decide to take the non-traditional route. You are absolutely right, nurses are needed all over. Not just in hospitals. The patients/clients you are going to be working with are very lucky to be getting you. Best of wishes to you in your new adventure.

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brandy1017 works as a RN.

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Sounds like you are making the right choice for you! Congrats! Many of us working in the hospital system have the same feelings and personalities but struggle on anyway and end up depressed, anxious or having a nervous breakdown! Plus all you've said is true, working conditions are grim and getting grimmer at many places. There is nothing wrong with not going the hospital route and you'll probably have a happier, saner, better life! The nurses I know who quit the hospital never came back.

I miss the job I used to have before I became a nurse, I never knew how good I had it, unfortunately it did not pay a living wage. Why are there so few jobs in America these days that pay a living wage? But I resent the constant cutbacks and nickling and diming of benefits and working conditions in the health system and can't wait till I can afford to retire and get the heck out of dodge! At least working 3 12 hour shifts makes it more bearable, the worse thing is I fear how much worse things are going to get before I can retire! I don't see working conditions getting better only worse as the hospitals and nursing homes and healthcare etc keep cutting costs in this messed up healthcare system that is America!

Edited by brandy1017

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imintrouble has 16 years experience and works as a RN.

50,961 Visitors; 2,397 Posts

I think Commuter and I were twins separated at birth. Only she got all the smarts.

You could be describing me and my nursing career. I've actually said to my co-workers what you've written in your post.

You just have to know yourself well enough to resist those who try to persuade you the only "real" nurses work in hospitals. The "best" nurses work in SCU or ER. Those who work in LTC only work there because they couldn't get a job any place else.

The best thing about nursing, is there's a place for all of us.

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DaniannaRN has 13 years experience and works as a Utilization Management at Insurance Company.

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THANK YOU!!! These are my thoughts exactly. You perfectly described every single reason why I hated working in a hospital for 3 months, and why I would never EVER do it again.

You're right, real nurses aren't confined to a hospital. I'm a real nurse too, I help people in a different way.

And to nemobear, take the cataract center job. I'm pretty sure the hospital will let you volunteer then claim there is no job for you at the end.

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smurfynursey works as a RN.

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imintrouble and The Commuter...perhaps we were siblings separated at birth! I think I am younger than both of you but I feel the same way!

Cheers!

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Nascar nurse has 25+ years experience and works as a Hospice Nurse.

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After being an LPN for 19 years I finally got my RN in 2005. Couldn't wait to get out of LTC and on to a "real" nursing job at the hospital. Applied to local hospital, got the interview and got the job. Went home, thought about this for about 24 hours and came to the conclusion "What the hell am I doing this for? To please others or to please myself"? Decided I love my little old people and they seem to love me and by gosh, I'm darn good at this job both in my heart and clinically.

I called the hospital back and declined the job. No regrets.

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NurseCard has 13 years experience as a ADN and works as a RN.

3 Followers; 2 Articles; 35,097 Visitors; 2,844 Posts

Commuter, I think you and I are soul sisters. I TOTALLY could have written that. I too am very Type B, hate dealing with doctors, hate dealing with new people all the time, hate dealing with family members, and like knowing what I'm going to walk into. Now, I don't mind a little bit of an adrenaline rush every now and then, but not from being in the middle of a code blue; I prefer a good roller coaster. =)

I've found that long term care and psych both, fit my personality SO much better than acute care and so I also avoid big hospitals. I'm finding however, that I'm really growing tired of the stringent regulations and harsh realities of long term care nursing, so I'm getting good and ready to go back to psych.

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Little_Mouse works as a RN.

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I am glad you shared this. You sound a lot like me actually, but you really stuck to your personal beliefs and preferences...you stayed genuine with who you are and did not falter despite what other people may have thought, especially when you stated,

Some uninformed people insist that real nursing only takes place inside the walls of the acute care hospital setting.
I admit that I fell for this false belief and that's why I'm still working in an acute setting and miserable! I tried to convince myself that working at a more prestigious hospital is what I want, but it's not. Unlike you, I haven't really contemplated what I want and actually stick to it and stay genuine. I get too caught up in what other people think of me--parents, friends, other nurse colleagues--if I were to leave the acute care setting and "settle" for something not fast paced or a hospital with a big name.

I'm going to really take an introspective look at my own personality and beliefs in order to feel content and happy with my work because frankly, I have a hard time leaving work at work. I think if I don't make a change it'll just continue to bleed into my personal life and I can't have it affecting my patient care either.

Thank you for sharing.

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pre-nurseshan works as a Student.

4,344 Visitors; 139 Posts

This is a very helpful and reassuring article. You named all the things I fear about a hospital job. Thank you for reminding me that nursing =/= hospital.

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