Nurse for 5 years wants to quit

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Feel free to join the conversation. Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A


Hi there.

So I've been a RN for 5 years. I've been in the ED, Paediatrics, School Nursing, Oncology, Hotel Nursing, Private clinic....trying to find my niche. I've switched hospitals 3 times already. Im just about done now. I have no more interest in doing this. I leave for a moment and miss it a bit and then get back into it, remembering why I left it in the first place. I want to get into another career but not sure how to pivot. I'm tired. Frustrated. And I think this career is just making me depressed.

I have tried multiple areas but the feeling is still the same. I've just about had it.

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Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,211 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Done,

I'm sorry to hear you're feeling frustrated and exhausted with your current career as a registered nurse. It can be disheartening when you've tried various areas within nursing and still haven't found your niche or a sense of fulfillment. It's important to prioritize your mental well-being and consider exploring alternative career paths that align better with your interests and passions.

Here are some steps you can take to help you pivot into a new career:

Self-Reflection: You've spent five years on jobs that made you unhappy. Before you change careers, take some time to reflect on your skills, strengths, and interests. Identify what truly brings you joy and fulfillment outside of nursing. Consider your hobbies, personal values, and the activities that make you feel energized.

Research Potential Careers: Explore different industries and professions that align with your identified interests. Look into these careers' qualifications, job prospects, and work environments. This research will help you better understand what might be a good fit for you.

Networking and Informational Interviews: Reach out to professionals in the fields you're considering to gather insights about their experiences and the industry. Networking and informational interviews can provide valuable guidance, help you establish connections, and gain a realistic perspective on potential career paths.

Skill Assessment and Development: Identify any skills gaps you may have in your desired career field and explore opportunities to acquire those skills. This could involve taking courses, attending workshops, or pursuing certifications to enhance your qualifications.

Volunteering or Internships: Consider volunteering or taking up internships in your target field to gain practical experience and determine if it fits you. This can also help you build connections and demonstrate your commitment to a new career.

Financial Considerations: Assess your financial situation and create a plan to ensure a smooth transition to a new career. This may involve saving money to support yourself during a potential career transition or exploring part-time options while you gain experience in your new field.

Seek Professional Guidance: If you're feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about your career transition, consider seeking guidance from career counselors or coaches who can help you navigate this process and provide personalized advice based on your circumstances.

Remember, making a career change is a significant decision, and feeling uncertain or apprehensive is natural. Take your time, gather information, and trust yourself to find a path that brings you fulfillment and happiness.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth



1 Post

Thank you so much. This has been really helpful.

Specializes in Nurse Psychotherapist and budding Medical Writer.

Sorry to hear you're feeling this way. I'm going to echo what Nurse Beth said with exploring how you're feeling, networking, etc.

I'm also going to add that what you are feeling is totally normal. I too feel how you feel. The great thing is with nursing is that there's many avenues to explore. For me, that's thinking outside the box. I'm becoming more entrepreneurial in my thinking. As nurses, we have many transferable skills that we can use away from the bedside. I'm currently jumping into 2 very new ventures for me that although are terrifying, they are what I know will make me happy at the end of the day. Plus, until I generate income with these new ventures, I can always do agency nursing (more pay, flexible hours, not regular staff so less inter personal drama).

Explore what you enjoy in life in general and how you can transfer your nursing skills into that...and you will find what you are looking for career path wise. 

Don't give up on nursing entirely. I truly think that if you are anything like me, you will find your dream job/niche in a non traditional role.

Try PRN or Contingent nurse jobs, check the job bulletin for different hospitals. Sometimes being burned out is the cause of no longer wanting to be a nurse, I've been there. With PRN or contingent positions you're only expected to fulfill at least 24 hours of work per month, but you can always schedule yourself to work more shifts. The amount of hours does vary with each facility. Some facilities may request at least 24 hours per week. The main drawback is that you may be the first to get called off and you may need to purchase your own medical insurance. if that's not an option, you may want to try Nursing Jobs that you can work full-time that doesn't drain you as much as bedside nursing, such as hemodialysis or IV team nurse. Hemodialysis nurses in the hospital setting requires you to focus on one patient at a time for a span of 3 or 4 hours; a dialysis clinic, however, is different where you focus on a lot more with odd hours- its still a lot of responsibility but may not burn you out like bedside nursing.  IV team nursing is usually just that - starting IV's on "difficult sticks" and possibly PICC lines on patients; you'll also be looking to see who needs central line dressing changes. You'll be on your feet for sure with its share of important responsibilities but it probably won't be the same hustle and bustle as bedside nursing.  If you're capable of traveling as a nurse, there are websites of different companies that offer the possibility of PRN traveling either in your home state or across state lines, this will allow you to relax a bit between work shifts and do some self care and self-reflection to see if switching professions is what you really want to do. Look up where you can work when you want by making your own schedule. There is also administrative nursing, such as case management, but I think there may be a degree of burnout associated with the administration side of nursing. Good luck, try to relax, drink some tea, soak in a bubble bath, treat yourself to a spa or a massage, burn some incense, light a soy candle, visit a nature site, take up swimming or yoga at the local Y. Try taking a span of time between shifts to self-reflect to see if that's what you really want to do. You worked really hard for that nursing degree so you want to make sure. The beauty of nursing is that you can always return back to it if you decide to venture elsewhere. God bless you in your endeavors :) 

Specializes in School Nursing.

I'm so sorry that you are unhappy with your career choice. But it's better to find out now, and realize that you need to find another career path. I think Nurse Beth's advice is spot on. Nursing isn't for everyone, and it's OK for you to realize it's not for you. I wish you the best of luck in choosing a new career.

Susan Alden

1 Post

I've been there. I was a CNA, LPN and have been a Registered Nurse since 1999. When I started working they didn't have or programs like job shadowing or Nursing Residency programs. Do research on these options and then ask to shadow a day. So many different opportunities out there. Good luck. 

TriciaJ, RN

4,322 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

I'm not clear on what makes you walk away.  Do you just feel unfulfilled or are you hating every minute of it?

If you're just feeling unfulfilled, maybe you're expecting more than any job can provide.  A paycheque can buy a lot of fulfillment.

If you're hating every minute, then maybe nursing just isn't your thing.  In that case I concur with the previous advice to figure out your next thing.  Good luck.


2,711 Posts

Specializes in oncology.
Nurse Beth said:

Hotel Nursing,

Tell me about Hotel nursing

Specializes in Geriatrics.

Interestingly enough I have done several types of nursing- long term care, home health, hospice. Never hospital because I hated it in nursing school. Now I'm an NP and it's a great fit for me. There's always the go back to school option. 

delabeaux, MSN

85 Posts

Specializes in Informatics.

Welcome to the dumpster fire that is Healthcare in the US.  Many in your shoes may think the way out is to get your MSN and flee the floor.  Unfortunately, schools are pumping out MSNs in every specialty except anesthesia faster then you can say "paycut".  Now the MSN market is saturated with inexperienced, underqualified RNs fleeing the floors, and happily taking 65k a year as an NP to 'get away'... to a job they'll be burnt out on in a few short years.

delabeaux said:

Welcome to the dumpster fire that is Healthcare in the US.  Many in your shoes may think the way out is to get your MSN and flee the floor.  Unfortunately, schools are pumping out MSNs in every specialty except anesthesia faster then you can say "paycut".  Now the MSN market is saturated with inexperienced, underqualified RNs fleeing the floors, and happily taking 65k a year as an NP to 'get away'... to a job they'll be burnt out on in a few short years.

NP might be fabulous for some people, not a burnout at all.  That is true of any career.  

OP, best wishes 


170 Posts

I understand completely what the OP is saying..I have no advice other than find something else now before you spend years in a career that doesn't fit no matter what flavor you try. The time spent (and wasted) is not worth it.

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