Need advice on leaving nursing!


I am in serious need of advice. I don't know if I'm experiencing burnout or just a cumulation of not being happy as a nurse, but I feel like I can't stand another day of work in my ER nursing job. I feel very depressed all the time and work is all that I can think about, namely how much I dread having to return. Even if I have 4 days off, all I can focus on is how many more days until I have to go back. I have dreams about being at work and they are more like nightmares. It is affecting my relationship with my husband and family, as they are so tired of hearing how much I dislike my job and how much I regret going into nursing.

To give some background info on my situation, I have only been a nurse for about a year. Even prior to graduating, I started having doubts about my choice of nursing as a career. During my senior year in particular, I started really regreting my choice and thinking about other options. I originally went into nursing with the goal of becoming an NP. During my senior year, I went ahead and applied to a few schools for FNP and I was accepted. After a lot of thought, I finally decided to turn down the acceptance and work as an RN for a year to get some experience.

I started out on a med-surg floor and I hated it. I was only there for a few months. After leaving, I found a job in the ED. At first, I was very excited and it seemed like a good nursing job. In comparision with many other bedside nursing jobs, it is a good nursing job. I get a guaranteed paid hour lunch break every shift. The staffing ratios aren't great, but they are better than at some hospitals in the area. I enjoy working with most of the staff. I like the variety of patients. My commute to work is only about 5 minutes and I even go home sometimes on my lunch breaks. Even with all of the positive aspects of the job, I still just don't like it and I'm starting to really dread going to work. I really think that I'm just not cut out for nursing. I hate working weekends, nights, holidays, and 12-hour shifts. I hate wearing scrubs. I hate performing most of the skills and tasks that go along with nursing. I really don't enjoy direct patient care.

I just don't know what to do anymore. I applied again for admission into an FNP program and I am still waiting to hear back from the university. I'm not really even sure if that's what I want to do anymore though. In the meantime, I'm searching for another job outside of acute care, but I'm finding it very diffcult without that year of experience. Also, I'm worried if a move outside of acute care so early in my career could affect my chances at future FNP jobs if I still decide to go that route. I've also thought about getting out of nursing entirely and my husband is encouraging me to pursue a waitressing job, but it feels like such a waste after earning a 4-year degree. I'm also very frustrated that every other career that I've considered would involve me returning to earn another BS degree and then going onto graduate school. I already have enough loans from the first BS!

Whew, thanks for letting me get all of this out. All of the stress is really starting to get to me. I would appreciate any advice or input.

Specializes in L&D, PACU.

I've threatened to get a job delivering pizzas before, but I'm not sure I could handle waitressing!

Have you thought about something like public health/community health nursing? It's 8-5, no weekends, and it is very different from bedside nursing. I'm doing that rotation right now. There is a high degree of autonomy. You are often out and about the community.

There are other things as well, that aren't direct care. I would hate to give up on something I'd put that much effort into.


160 Posts

they let you go home on your lunch breaks?


160 Posts

what are you so afraid of? There are sooo many options for you. Take a breather and try something new. If you don't like it, move on! You have the power of choice!

I feel the same way. I have weeks where I don't sleep at night because I'm so worried. I've got 8 months experience in the OR only and have been off on medical leave .. now I want to go back but at the same time dread it. My situation is different though, its more because of how I was treated by the staff, the older nurses that is. I have come across that quite a bit so far actually and thats the part I hate.

My solution was to go part time but my employer wouldn't let me as I didn't have enough seniority. That might be something you might want to look into as well as public health.

As it stands now I'm trying to get back to work but they are putting lots of roadblocks in my way. I'm considering, seriously, just applying for other positions, such as psych, peds and homecare. I don't have a lot of references however as its been a couple years since I graduated and how would I explain to my current employer why I need them as a reference.

I would actually like to go to a bigger hospital in the same health network, but I know if I didn't get the job, and I went back to my floor they would give me an even harder time. It would be nice to get a fresh start somewhere though.


13 Posts

Specializes in icu, dr office, med surg, day surg,.

could you teach with a BSN? i think BSNs can teach in the LVN program here. if not nursing what are you interested in? i am just wondering where your fear level is as far as being a new nurse and maybe expecting too much from your self.

also what about the education dept in your hosp?

good luck with what ever you decide. i agree you do have a lot of options.

Specializes in Emergency Room.

i admire you for being honest with yourself. so many nurses feel obligated to stay in nursing because they feel like failures for admitting that the profession is not what they expected. it is okay that you feel the way you do and I think it is good that you know early on that it is something you don't want to deal with long term. I am also an ER nurse, and although I like it, I don't love it and I don't always enjoy it. I am also tired of shift work too and so many weekends. I plan to move on very soon. I think to some degree I will always do some bedside care but I know I can't so it full time for too long. explore other options. nursing is the only career that offers tons of other opportunities, take advantage of it. good luck and keep us posted.

Has 25 years experience.

It sounds like you truly don't want to be a nurse, and are not just "burned out". Why did you pursue nursing as a career? That will give you important clues (money, prestige, ?). If it wasn't, at least partially, a desire to "help people" or "make a difference", then the unpleasant aspects of nursings will be much harder to bear and you may just have made a mistake in career choice.

That said, if it's patient care that's bothering you - or your current coworkers, the hours, weekends, holidays, etc. - there are other areas of nursing you could pursue. For instance, some nurses work for drug or insurance companies with regular hours and good $.

But honestly, if you would rather be a waitress than a nurse - you must truly dislike your profession, and if this is the case, you will probably never be happy as a nurse. But I could be wrong of course, it's just the impression I get after reading you post.

Wishing you the very best,



26 Posts

Specializes in rehab and LTC, some psych.

Only you know what your initial intentions were for attending nursing school. If they were choices your purposely and gladly made, you may be experiencing alittle burnout. Maybe consider case management assignments. There are new and not so new HMO's popping up vying for state contracts to cover Medicaid HMO programs and they badly need nurses. It's a desk job, usually 9-5, no scrubs required, very little patient interaction. Private insurance companies and workman's comp also has similiar positions. If, however, you attended nursing school to proove a point to others or to fulfill other's expectations of what you should do with your life, you have one of two choices: either continue living out their expectations they have for you and stop complaining or cut your losses and move onto what you really want out of life. Don't mean to sound blunt and print has a way of sounding harsh but that's not how I mean to come across. There's a thread about "why I became a nurse". Read through it to renew your original committment and then decide for yourself what's best for you.



541 Posts

Thanks for all of the replies. I pursued nursing as a career for several reasons. I do enjoy "helping people" and "making a difference" is really important to me in a career. I liked the options that nursing seemed to offer. I was also told that I could get a job anywhere as a nurse, which was appealing in the economically depressed area where I used to live. I learned about the NP profession and it seemed like something I would really enjoy. Becoming an RN was a step in the process to become an NP.

I thank everyone for all of the ideas on areas of nursing to pursue, but I feel like I have exhausted a lot of options. I've applied for public health, home health, school nursing, insurance companies, case management, private duty, infusion nursing, occupational health, and office nursing positions. Either I am not even granted an interview or I am told that I do not have the experience and to contact them after I have 1-2 years of experience. It is very frustrating.

Ashes, thank you for being so honest. I do need to stop complaining and just move forward with my life. This is not the life or the career that I envisioned having.


50 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 15 years experience.

Hello Katryn, as i have read your sentiments regarding leaving nursing, i felt that you need to break for awhile to assess things first before you make your next move.It seem that you are really confused since the day you entered your nursing career. My advice is for you to take things slow and don't jump into something faster. Try taking a leave first,give yourself time. Please continue praying and ask lord for guidance. Ask him to lead you on the right path.I'm sure everything will turn out right.


50 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 15 years experience.

Katryn,try focusing what you really like in life. All of us are in search of something we don't really know. You cannot or will not accept advices,if you yourself don't know what you want in life. Take things easy,listen to your heart and not the people around you. I could see that you are still in good shape since you are in ER.

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