New Nurse Feels Like A Failure

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New Nurse Feels Like A Failure

Hello Nurse Beth.

I just need some advice please. I've been an RN for 2 years. Did medsurg and left after a year due to burnout. Then used an agency and worked in an office setting for 4 months. Felt like I was losing my skills (also hated M-F 8-5 pm) so I transitioned back into the hospital (medsurg again).

Left because they wanted to take me off orientation earlier than expected because I was doing "good". I asked for 2 more weeks and they didn't want to give it. Now I've been out of a job for 2 months.

I feel like a failure.

I feel as if I should have made more progress into my career by now (ACLS, specialty certifications, being charge, running codes etc) but I haven't. I would like some stability, (longevity in a specialty, moving out, building a retirement fund etc) but I can't keep a job for long.

I don't like nursing homes or doctors offices, and that's all that's in my area (can't move b/c of no income and family is close by). My dream job would be pre/op and pacu but nobody wants to hire me without experience, especially seeing my resume (longest job 1 year). I keep wanting to get more hospital skills but the ratios right now makes me never want to go back.

And many outpatient jobs are M-F 8-5 which I feel is not a great work life balance. IDK what to do. I may just do a flu clinic gig to earn some income. I also lack confidence in myself which may be causing another issue. If anyone reading would like to mentor me that would be greatly appreciated. Just someone to hold me accountable and help me progress in my career.

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Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,211 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Needs Advice,

It's essential to turn this situation around ASAP. In the future, have another job lined up before you quit your current job.

 People who are employed are more likely to land a job than those who are unemployed, and gaps in employment are questioned by hiring managers.

Be mindful of burning bridges, as nursing is a small world.

Immediate Goal

Your immediate goal is to get a job. Take the flu clinic job to end the work gap and rebuild your work history while you search for a more suitable position. 

  • For now, let go of your dream job. Your dream job can come later when you are ready to identify, appreciate, and qualify for it. You are in damage-control mode, not dream-job shopping mode.
  • In other words, focus on what you need to do to get by right now, and don't worry about your dream job until you're in a better position to pursue it.
  • Accept that every job has its pros and cons. There will always be aspects of your job that you don't love.
  • Hold yourself accountable. Whatever job you get after the flu clinic gig, stick with it for 1-2 years. This is when you gain confidence as your skills improve and learn to cope with burnout and dissatisfactions inherent in every job.
  • Get your ACLS or other skills to give you an immediate sense of accomplishment.
  • Consider the pros and cons of acute care versus outpatient and how it aligns with your long-term plans. Once you are away from acute care for a long time, it can be challenging to get back.

You have already shown determination by succeeding in nursing school, so you can do this. Good luck 🙂

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth


10 Posts

Hello Nurse Beth. I really appreciate your input and insight. I am the only nurse in my family so it's been a challenge navigating the field. I have certainly learned my lesson as I've been out of a job for a while now. I'm still in my 20s so I'm still finding myself, what I like etc. I will take what I have learned and what you have said into practice. Thank you again. 

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