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New Grad Burn Out? What to do now?

sjyRN specializes in ICU.

I graduated in December 2019, passed my NCLEX in January 2020 and started working the week after passing. Got 2 weeks of orientation and here I am in my 7th month of Nightshift ICU nursing. 

I hate it. I'm depressed. I'm exhausted. I feel like an idiot. Since starting I am tripled every night. Since I'm in Texas we just got our huge COVID wave and I have started being assigned COVID ICU patients (TRIPLED) so managing 2 intubated COVID patients plus one on high flow and a non-rebreather is DRAINING. (Don't get me started on how we have NO PCAs/Techs to help)

I have reached out to my assigned mentor and one of my charge nurses and they have been encouraging and kind saying I'm on the right track and I'm doing well. But I come home and cry all the time. I can't see anyone or go anywhere because of COVID so my only interaction is with my patients and co-workers who are also burned out and busy. 

I want to give up. I want to leave the ICU. Sometimes I just want to leave nursing. I feel like I made a mistake and I have no idea what to do now.

I am in a 2 year contract so my options are transferring to a different unit in the healthcare system I am in, going back to school (Public Health? FNP? Education?), or powering through the 2 years. Or just changing career paths entirely but even then I just feel so beaten down. 

speedynurse specializes in ER.

WOW!.....that’s all I can say. 2 weeks of orientation for a NEW GRADUATE is completely totally unsafe. ICU tripling is unsafe in general (unless it’s a step down overflow). Just those 2 factors in general can make you exhausted. Third,  night shift can make you exhausted and depressed too. Sometimes it just doesn’t work for certain people’s circadian rhythm. If you are that upset, then I would look into other options. Life is too short to be that miserable (or in that unsafe situations!)

AZNewRN specializes in Pediatric Nurse.

Hi sjyRN,

As I was reading your post, I felt some familiarity in regards to my current situation. I am also a new grad working nights that started in October 2019. I have been told that the first year of nursing is rough no matter what, let alone us starting our careers as baby nurses when covid 19 hits. 

You should have received much more training than just a couple of weeks. I work pediatric med surg floor and received 10 weeks of training. The new grads in ICU at my hospital get 12 weeks of training. My best advice is to know your resources on the floor for when your busy and need an extra hand and to have friends you can vent to about your frustrations and concerns. I bet other new grad nurses on your floor feel similar to you!

Night shift has been a hard adjustment for me as well. Some times I barely sleep before or in between my shifts because of the stress and anxiety I feel for the upcoming shift and struggling to sleep. Some of my days off are completely wasted being so exhausted and anxious. Day shift is always an option too if your hospital will let you switch. If I were you I would see if you can transfer to a lower acuity floor in your hospital. That may help your stress levels decrease and you may find your "niche" there.

Keep your head up, nursing is full of options and avenues. Bedside nursing isn't the only form of nursing out there! You got this.

sjyRN specializes in ICU.

Thanks guys! I keep researching other jobs, mostly away from bedside. I keep reminding myself I'm not trapped even though I feel like it. I just feel so incompetent that I can't see myself transferring to another unit and embarrassing myself all over again to a new set of people. I've talked with resource nurses I work with and they tell me of all the hospitals and units they have worked in like a few years and I'm like WOW! you are so brave LOL. 

I think about going to days too. I keep thinking it will be worse because the doctors are there and procedures are happening. I just don't feel confident anymore in my nursing abilities and I used to be so excited and ready to learn everything. Now the stress is so high I just feel like I'm just trying to survive the shift, not lose my license and go home.

I think I will speak with my director soon, I know its bad timing with the pandemic and all but I don't want to put my patients safety at risk which is what it feels like every shift. 

I completely relate. I actually was going to post something similar. I’m a new grad RN on my sixth month on a psychiatric unit. I love it. But have been struggling. Haven’t received much support from staff and work nights. I sleep during the day and have terrible insomnia at night from my rhythms being off. I struggle with anxiety and every time I do a skill it’s there. Many ups and downs. I feel the burn out! Looking to try to work some days to get more contact with patients, but because I’m new, I get the night shifts. I feel so “off.” And I feel at times not smart or slow because I double check everything- you know? 
 

do any of you experience bullying from upper nurses or passive aggressiveness? 

5 hours ago, sjyRN said:

Thanks guys! I keep researching other jobs, mostly away from bedside. I keep reminding myself I'm not trapped even though I feel like it. I just feel so incompetent that I can't see myself transferring to another unit and embarrassing myself all over again to a new set of people. I've talked with resource nurses I work with and they tell me of all the hospitals and units they have worked in like a few years and I'm like WOW!! you are so brave LOL. 

I think about going to days too. I keep thinking it will be worse because the doctors are there and procedures are happening. I just don't feel confident anymore in my nursing abilities and I used to be so excited and ready to learn everything. Now the stress is so high I just feel like I'm just trying to survive the shift, not lose my license and go home.

I think I will speak with my director soon, I know its bad timing with the pandemic and all but I don't want to put my patients safety at risk which is what it feels like every shift. 

I relate to this so much! Especially the part of the doctors being there in day shift and having to worry about “embarrassing yourself” in front of new nurses if you find another job! It’s so hard and I suggest you do what’s comfortable for you. You’re learning and that takes time and then magically it all clicks 🙂   I’m learning this slowly, but it’s not easy I know!

sjyRN specializes in ICU.

On 7/16/2020 at 6:31 AM, Beachwave said:

do any of you experience bullying from upper nurses or passive aggressiveness? 

No I don't, but I do feel like a burden by being new. Like everyone is helpful and nice but I feel like I'm too dependent on them. I worry if I leave and go to a new unit or hospital the staff will be upset that I have almost a year experience and still don't know what I'm doing. 

I feel the same about night shift making you feel "off" and I always double check and triple check everything and am very verbal about my concerns and talking it out with more experienced nurses to make sure I'm thinking about things the right way. But then even though they listen and talk about it I still worry I'm bothering them too much.

I understand. I still don’t know what I’m doing. I feel like I’m doing a good job to an extent but that I will always make a mistake. I’m afraid to go to another unit too! 

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