New here, first post, and totally burned out!

by acrazycanucker acrazycanucker (New) New

I just joined Allnurses today after a number of years as a lurker. For background, I am a diploma grad (3 year hospital based program in Canada, so not sure what that would be equivalent to in places like the US).

23 years experience this year in acute care settings. Started first 5 years in small hospital in Northern Canada, doing everything in one shift sort of nursing like babies, ER/own ambulance dispatch, peds, etc. since then have done med surg, a fair number of years of specifially labor and delivery/nursery/postpartum only, now currently (last 10 years) in a med hospital on a unit that does surgery/surgery diagnosis (eg: usual lap choles/hernias, the most complicated OR would be bowel resections and ostomies ie-no specialized like ortho stuff, also see things like pancreatitis, abdominal pain NYD) Get the overflow that the medical ward can't take so yes some awaiting placements, confused people, needing lots of help with ADL's on top of the medical diagnosis. Also it is a combined unit... have a 5 bed LDRP unit averaging about a baby a day/30-45 deliveries a month, technically 36 weeks and up. One nurse staffs LDRP, and 3 on days for the med surg side, with 2 RN's on med surg at night and one in LDRP. Can have up to 7-9 patients on nights with one of us assigned charge as well, and about 5-6 on days, AND we are all cross trained....if it is "quiet" in surgery, and busy in maternity, we pitch in and help out and vice versa, and take turns being assigned to each area as well in our 6 week rotation. That LDRP nurse can even have 5-6 postpartum patients (some moved up to the surgery ward to free up delivery rooms), and 2-3 patients in labor on a bad day and hopes that the other staff can help her out. Little health care aide support overall (usually only 4hrs in am and in pm but have had some 24/7 coverage this summer which is helping). No ward clerk after 4pm and down our charge nurse from 1600 to 2000h as well. We clean our own delivery rooms/restock ourselves. I could go on and on...none of the other units in my hospital are much better.

I don't know what I need vent or something. I am burned out. I am tired of the turnover and working with so many inexperienced staff due to that (I know that we all need to start as new sometimes, but management doesn't seem to realize that turnover means something!), I am tired of seeing so many mistakes made/things overlooked and making some myself due to the rush and hectic pace. I can handle not being able to get someone over that a long time ago....but when it is at the point that you can barely keep up with vitals/meds/assessments or worry you are missing something because the next crisis is happening is where I worry. I get sick in the stomach just driving to work now not knowing what I will be in for. I got off night shift in January (have done 12hrs rotating my whole career) and got a day/evening rotation, but it isn't helping much.

And....I have felt that nursing was my calling....but have never thought I would get to the point of feeling like I wanted to do something else. I really don't want to go back to school for a BScN when I am 45 years old with preteens still at home and all that time and money spent (which I don't have) would lead to only a faint remote chance I could get into something like public health (very competitive and hard to get into and almost no turnover here). I have always said that if I was going to go back to school, it woud NOT be in nursing, and I still feel that way (massage therapy comes to mind actually). My dh does not want to move....and the "big city" hospitals around here are just as bad. Things like the doctor's office, etc here are not unionized so my pay would be dismal compared to what I make now. Hard to walk away from over 40.00/hr CDN. I am studying for my IBCLC exam (Lactation consultant) now but I wouldn't be able to make what I am now.

Previously I would go on vacation, come back, things would be better for me for a while and I could keep going for the next 6 months....for the last 10 years LOL, but I have HAD IT! I have toyed with the idea of doing something else. I have applied for a maternity leave postition in a combined homevisit + ambulatory IV therapy/woundcare program, if anything for a break mentally. However permanent in this area is also hard to get as well....again people not wanting to leave once they land a job there.

I have so many misgivings...shame and sadness at myself that I "can't hack acute care nursing" and the shiftwork at my age anymore. That perception of others I have talked to is something like home health or extended care nursing isn't "real nursing". That I will lose my skills (as of yet home health in my city does not have extremely complicated things like trachs/vents, etc and it would mostly be med administration/teaching, wound care)

Thanks for letting me vent here. I feel like I am grieving or something as silly as that may sound and have cried over my job lately. I have always been able to "bounce back" from the misgivings I have had about nursing or second thoughts, but to feel this way quite strongly this last year or two about the career I have wanted since I was a little girl really scares and saddens me. It's like I am trying to accept that I need something different yet I am scared too, if that makes sense.

I am really looking forward to your stories/been there done that's. I havent' been able to talk to anyone else about this.

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 45 years experience. 7,899 Posts

There is NO SHAME in being tired of shiftwork and acute care. None! I'm on the far side of 60 myself, and let me tell you- it wears on you. Finding something a little kinder and gentler is no sign of weakness! It's a sign of self-awareness. Anyone who hires you is getting a mature, experienced RN who will enhance their team.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience. 6,801 Posts

Maybe it's time to "lose the skills" that have burnt you out.

Moving into a different area of nursing after 23 years at the bedside is a GOOD thing.

There are MANY areas of nursing that you are qualified for.

Stop the "grieving" and go find one. Spend that energy on finding something you enjoy.

You can do this.:yes:



Has 2 years experience. 208 Posts

If you're concerned about physical and emotional burn-out, and risking a pay cut, I would strongly advise against massage therapy.

The physical demand is more than meets the eye, and while you may get paid by the hour at a much higher rate than you are now ($60/h conservatively), consider that full time hours for a massage therapist max at 17 hours a week. That's probably about as much effort as your body mechanics, hands, etc can take to avoid repetitive stress injury and burn out. One hour of bodywork for a body worker will literally feel like a workout. For anyone of any age of any fitness level and experience. Make no mistake, you will sweat. That's not even considering your age and fitness level to be in decline.

Then, you have to worry about job security, and I could chat your ear off about that too. It really is feast or famine in most regions of the country.

Blah - so not worth it unless you approach it as a hobby, or as something to break up the monotony of nurse life.

PM me if you have questions. I am a massage therapist, and truly love it for what it is. I have many years experience as both a small business owner and a spa minion...

Edited by TheBlackDogWaits



3,726 Posts

I'm a career home health nurse in the U.S. I don't care what anyone thinks when I make a professional wage and like my work though I'm treated with nothing but regard and respect by my employer, patients and providers.