Need advice about leaving a position.

Nurses General Nursing


  • Specializes in Pediatrics, ER.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for me and I could use some advice. In January I obtained an amazing position working on a women's and children's floor. It's a combination of pediatrics, women's health, and maternity. I started in March and had a wonderful orientation, great coworkers, a sweet-as-can-be boss who genuinely cares about her employees and patients. The only drawbacks: it's about a 1 1/2 hour drive with traffic into the next state over from me, and about $4/hour less than the pay for my area. I just finished my 90 days and I'm feeling very guilty because I need to leave the position. I'm taking another job which is far from my dream job, working with adults on a very busy surgical floor, mostly ortho, 32 hours/week 3-11. However, because of low pedi volume at my current position I have been mostly caring for adults anyway. I have cared for roughly 10 pediatric patients since I started.

I love my current position but these are my reasons:

1) I work overnights, which I love, but I CANNOT stay awake on the drive home. I've tried everything, music up loud, a/c on, head out the window singing at the top of my lungs, eating right before I leave work, coffee on the way home, Red Bull, and green tea. It got to the point where I wanted to ask for a prescription of Provigil to take just before driving home but then found out I can't take them because of a mild cardiac issue. I'm also afraid if I talk to my doctor about it she will want to suspend my license as far as driving at night. I don't remember driving home most mornings and several times I've caught my hand slipping off the wheel from falling asleep and once I woke up seconds before hitting a guardrail. I'm usually okay after one shift, but really struggle after two in a row. I've fallen asleep driving before after working overnight at another job during a bad snowstorm and woke up in a huge snow bank. Thankfully no one else was on the road at the time.

2) I didn't know when I took this position that I wouldn't be able to keep my doctors. The insurance they have is for that state only, and I can't go to Boston for anything, which means I have to give up my cardiologist who has cared for me for 22 years, as well as my PCP who knows me inside and out. The major hospital Level I hospital for the state I work in is over 2 1/2 hours from my house.

3) I didn't know at the time I took this position that my coworkers wanted someone with one year of experience, which they were told I had. They wanted someone with a med-surg background who wanted to learn pediatrics, because taking care of adult patients was new for all of the nurses on the floor (the floor expanded from just pediatrics to also taking med-surg patients because of low inpatient volume for peds) and they wanted someone who could be a resource. One of my fellow nurses was talking to a coworker and made a good point about me, which she didn't mean harshly but it's true. She said [about me] "This is my back-up if I ever need help? A new grad?" There is only one nurse per shift for our side of the floor, with the OB side as a back-up if we need help with patients. I have been feeling more anxious as time goes on, wondering if I will be able to keep calm by myself in a crisis, if there are things I don't know that I don't know. I have been wondering if I'm doing my patients an injustice by just sticking to the skills I learned on the floor and not knowing any other foundation. My nurse manager told me not to worry, that the patients I've cared for are predominantly the patients the floor gets, but we get standbys a couple times a week and if I want the hours I need to float to med-surg, which I don't mind, but the workload is much more intense and I definitely lack those skills. I've been worried since the day my coworker brought up that point, and I've been feeling like maybe I need to go to a bigger place and get more experience to bring back there.

I love the hospital and the coworkers and would love to stay per diem, but I'm worried I will permanently burn this bridge and they have been so good to me, so good that I've agonized over and over if I should just sleep there between shifts, suck it up and start over with new doctors, find a way to make it work. I didn't know when I was hired that there was a baylor for weekend overnights, and I was told by HR I'd be working every other weekend. I thought I'd be spacing out my shifts, but there's one other overnight nurse who works Monday and Friday, so I'd be working Tues/Weds/Thurs and then rotate with her every other week so she doesn't have to pick up every Friday. I feel most guilty because I feel like I'm orienting and running. I was not counting on this new position, or even really looking. It just kind of fell into my lap. I'm very loyal and I'm not a big fan of change, so this is a very hard decision for me.

Changing full-time positions ultimately brings me farther from my goal of working in pediatric oncology, but would help with my second love, the ER, at some point in my career. It would gives me a wide range of skills as they do cell-saver type of things on this floor, lots of blood products, chest tubes, ostomies, major surgeries, etc...and it's only 8 miles from my house. The drawbacks to the position are that it's four 8 hour shifts a week, considered part-time, and insurance there is over $200/month as opposed to the $110/month at my current job. It's also union and the dues are $16/week. I've thought long and hard and I don't know what to do. HR at my prospective job needs the okay to check references from my current job tomorrow. I would appreciate any feedback.

Wow - ok let me see if I can help you. I own a staffing firm and so have been dabbling with HR matters and recruiting.

First, it sounds as though you've already made up your mind BUT you're trying to talk through all the excuses because you feel guilty. Leaving a position is normally NEVER easy and guilt is natural. However, you need to do what's best for your career and at the end of the day you are making a "career decision" not an "unprofessional decision" due to conflict with co-workers, wrongful behavior on your part or the like. So, my conclusion is to go for it, move on, and be happier, closer to home and more alert on your drive home. You don't have to burn a bridge at your current place either. Just be honest and tell them how difficult this decision was for you. You sound like a nice enough person that they will know you didn't mean any ill harm and will appreciate your honesty (or should appreciate your honesty!).

Years ago I once worked in a psychiatric hospital per diem for the overnight shift so I completely understand. That alone is what led me to quit because I just couldn't get used to sleeping during the days and I, like you, had some incidents of almost falling asleep at the wheel that scared the life out of me! Well that and the fact that the job was part-time and I really needed a full-time income!

I think moving forward that you should definitely do some things when it comes to making your decisions to accept employment and TRUST ME I say this because HR and recruiters, the usual gatekeepers to forwarding your resume on to a hiring manager for just about any job, will care about these things. Here are my suggestions:

1) Try to keep tenure and not job hop (some professions are more ok with this than others, but for the most part HR never looks at it lightly)

2) Learn from this past experience and ask all the questions you found to be problematic this time around UP FRONT (i.e. - what are the benefits? what type of insurance providers are available for employees here? ...and these are definitely acceptable questions)

3) Make sure you choose one main reason why you're leaving your current job and be consistent with telling future HR and recruiters that reason for now on because they do like to find out why people left jobs (especially when you've only been there for a few months)

4) Always consider your job satisfaction level and no that you can't perform well if you're worrying or stressed or feeling something else negative day after day

I think there's more I can suggest but my hubby just came home and I need to finish up dinner! :)

Good luck!


1,714 Posts

How much money are you spending on gas and car maintenance? The time you spend commuting is valuable, if you think about it. And ruining your health isn't good for anybody either.

Take the new job, as difficult a decision as this is.


945 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics, ER.
How much money are you spending on gas and car maintenance? The time you spend commuting is valuable, if you think about it. And ruining your health isn't good for anybody either.

Take the new job, as difficult a decision as this is.

I spend almost $70/week in gas. I just bought a 2009 Honda CRV with 12 miles on it in March, and I have over 8,000 on it already. I agree with the commuting piece, that is one of the major issues. I'm going with Boston traffic on the way home from work, which means I don't get to bed until close to 10 am, and then have to be up at 4ish to start the commute all over for 7 pm. Originally the position was 32 hours, but they got rid of 8 hour shifts and you had to pick either 36 hours or 24, I couldn't afford to go down so I bumped up to 36, but that means there's no break to catch up anymore on the night I used to do one 11-7.


127 Posts

Specializes in Oncology, radiology, ICU.

I quit a job because of the commute about 1 1/2 years ago. Like you I was working back to back 12 hour shifts and there were times I don't remember the drive home. I just kept thinking that one day I wasn't going to make the curve leading onto the bridge crossing a major river and go into the river. I landed a job at a local hospital and although not my dream job my life and seeing my kids grow up are the most important things to me. Leaving that job wasn't easy but it was something I knew I had to do for myself and my family and it's a decision I don't regret to this day.


38,333 Posts

Without addressing any of the other issues: an acquaintance worked at a job as far away as you describe. She worked 12 hour shifts and avoided the commute this way. She worked her three or four shifts and stayed in town until her days off. She drove home for her days off and came back to work her cycle of shifts. It so happened that she stayed in the hospital for free. They had an empty ward where on duty doctors and people in her situation could sleep. Only catch was when a doctor needed a bed, the nurses had to give up the bed. If you couldn't do something like this, you might be able to arrange an inexpensive sleeping room. All of this is only if you want to keep that job. If it were me, I would be too enticed by the job that's only 8 miles away from home. Just an idea.


658 Posts

Specializes in Medical Surgical.

Personally I would stick with the job I love, get the sleeping room and go back to my real life when the shifts are over. I am biased because I really believe a nurse is unbelievably lucky to find a job she loves. Whatever you do, don't look back and think, "If only I had chosen the other road." That way leads to madness in life.


945 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics, ER.

As much as I would love to do that I can't afford to pay for an extra room. The pay is much lower where I work compared to where I live because the state I work in has a significantly lower cost of living and no state tax, which I still have to get deducted from my paycheck. Because of the difference in pay, I actually have absolutely nothing left over for extras, and have been working per diem to be able to enjoy myself here and there. I also have pets to care for and responsibilities in my home, and at this time I'm not able to pack up and move closer to work. I have thought this over through and through, every angle possible, and I just can't find a feasible way.

I can't tell you which way to go. Only you can do that. However, I will say that you should not feel guilty if you do leave your current position. I would just explain to them that you have fallen asleep driving home from this job and fear having a serious accident some day.


658 Posts

Specializes in Medical Surgical.

Ah, well, I take back what I said about getting a sleeping room. If you are not making enough money to have even a few extras and you have pets who need you (they ARE a real responsibility, both of your time and your heart), it's a different ball game. It sounds like you know what you have to do. You cannot risk your life on the road.


1,016 Posts

I don't know if you've considered it, but could you possibly MOVE closer to the job you really want?

My husband and I have moved to be closer to jobs, and it's worked out great. We rented our home out, while renting a new home in the new area. Sort of had to do it, and it was a lot of work, but now he rides a metro and I am 15 mins from work. It's just so nice not to have the huge commute. OUr kids are less than a mile from great schools now also. Sometimes moving closer in seems expensive, but you save in terms of gas and commuting costs.

Some can make it work ...don't know your situation, though.

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