Looking for some objective advice from some fellow nurses. I am currently working as a DSN in an acute trust at Band 6 Level. I have been doing this role for two years now, prior to this I worked in Intensive Care. Although I am of a sensitive nature and pre-disposed to taking stress a lot more personally than others at times, I am finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the workload I am being given and I'm beginning to think nursing in general is not for me (despite the fact that I know I am a good nurse and the patients like me - not being big headed here but I generally get nothing but good feedback from them and I love working with them). Surprisingly, this isn't a physical patient workload but rather a clinic admin/paper workload.
I have been suffering so much lately that I have had to go off sick with anxiety/depression. This is following three bouts at different points in time of anxiety attacks at work and subsequent breakouts of crying in front of my manager. This is the first time in my life I have ever had to go off sick from work with something other than a physical illness and my attendance record up until this point has been 100%, I'm never off sick and will do anything to avoid it.
As you can guess from my name I am a male nurse. I am currently the only male member of staff on my team which I sometimes also find difficult as I feel there is no gender balance apart from the doctors, who largely stick to themselves. I realise there's not really much I can do about this, though. But thought it was worth mentioning. When I first started we were quite a small team (10 of us in total) of varying bands and I was working in a number of different areas that varied from education groups for patients, to insulin clinics through to the acute wards. It's been the norm from day one that I've been pretty much all over the place...I worked across a number of sites as our trust is split into an acute site and an outpatient site. I also do community education at health practices locally. Recently I no longer work on the acute wards as we have recruited an inpatient team of nurses under a separate funding bid who now look after the wards so I am largely based on the outpatient site doing solely clinics and education groups. Our team in total is now 20+. Since the new nurses were appointed under a different contract doing shifts I no longer need to be on the wards and I am rarely there. Whereas the inpatient side now has a whole team of new nurses, the outpatient side has stayed the same staffing wise.
As a result of this new team in place, I feel as though on the outpatient side I am being used to constantly plug gaps whenever and wherever they appear whilst most of my colleagues are based in one place at one time largely doing one thing. I feel like all of the focus is on these new nurses, when I still feel relatively junior myself...even though I am classed a senior. The nurses who are doing as much as I am or at least appear as stressed as me are being paid at Band 7 level whereas I am not. I'm not after more money - I'm just unsure sometimes as to whether I am working above my band for the amount of work I do that my colleagues don't? Am I focusing too much on what they are doing instead of just focusing on me? I'm aware that many people in the NHS have this problem.
Recently I have been asked to cover our Endocrinology testing service (we have no official Endocrine nurse) one day a week which is not my job role and which I really don't know a great deal about other than the basics to keep patients safe, nor have any official training in and I am working under no nursing supervision aside from that of the consultant endocrinologists. I actually really enjoy doing this clinic as it's practical and hands on. I get to take bloods and administer drugs. This is only a temporary measure and will eventually be a full time role at Band 7. I will likely be expected to train this new Band 7 or at least handover to them which I can feel myself already getting resentful about despite the fact that it's not even happened yet. I tend to think like this at times and look for things to piss me off now, discounting the good stuff that happens. But I'm not sure whether this persecution complex is underlying in my nature (depression can do that) or something has actually triggered it in work.
Additionally I am also covering one and a half days of Research Nursing within our department which used to be filled by a full time Band 6 Nurse who had their funding pulled and thus is now being covered by our pot of funding (me) instead. Whilst I am working on the research study and generally finding it also well to manage, I am now being told that when I have no patients booked (with no real consideration of any admin time I may need on the outpatient study I am doing already) that I have to abandon this and go over to the acute site and help the inpatient nurses with their audits. I've got no issue with this, I realise I'm a nurse and I have to work but I feel as though because people see me without a patient that I'm doing nothing which isn't the case. My manager has told me that this is just my perception and I'm inclined to agree at times. I am again the only nurse on the outpatient team who works 1 weekend every month doing education clinics (Again the only nurse who does these education clinics in both community and on-site) whereas my other colleagues only work one weekend a year. I do not get overtime pay, but I do get weekend enhancement and instead I get time owing in the week beforehand. The inpatient nurses who work shifts and weekends generally get days off in the week.
I realise that I am becoming increasingly resentful of my colleagues and it is getting me down. It took one e-mail yesterday from our Band 4 admin co-ordinator (who had CC'd in management), telling me that I need to go to the wards in my research sessions (after already having one e-mail sent to me saying the same thing from my manager) to send me into a state of agitation and I broke down crying again which is not like me at all. I honestly felt like I was back at school, where I was bullied at times. I'm not implying that I'm being bullied here, all I am saying is that I was getting the same feelings. I seem to have more breakdowns in this job crying than I ever did when I worked on Intensive Care, looking after seriously ill patients and working in a highly pressured environment. The job I am doing now is a dream job to a lot of nurses and was to me at one point but I am now starting to feel like more of an office worker asphyxiated by admin/work politics than a nurse just doing a practical job and I just don't know what to do about it.
Luckily I have finally been to my GP who has diagnosed me with depression. I don't think the depression has helped with my outlook on things at work, but I still have this niggling doubt that maybe it isn't all me (or the depression) and work is in fact actually contributing to my state of mind. I have to give full credit to my manager and my colleagues in being supportive of me when I have been down but when I spoke to my manager she was and is very compassionate but said that she is "unsure" of what more she can do to make my job "any easier" and yet I'm sat there thinking my job isn't that easy because no one else on the team is doing it or understands how to do it and I am relied upon to cover when stuff hits the fan. The one nurse who did the same role before I did has subsequently got a promotion into a Band 7 new role within the team, she fully understands where I am coming from because she had the same issues herself with feeling resentful and actually felt pushed to go for an interview for a Band 5 Practice Nurse job.
The whole situation is really starting to nag at me as I hate the thought of being treated unfairly and I am beginning to relish the feeling of going back to a Band 5 job doing more simple hands on stuff and not having any of this extra crap to deal with. I felt by far more skilled and in tune with nursing when I was working on ICU, I'm not going to say I didn't have issues there but it didn't feel anywhere near as bad as it does now.
Has anyone else ever felt like this before? Is there any shame in down banding? Am I just overthinking? My team has a bit of a history already to be honest as one of the nurses who used to be a Band 7 of a similar nature to me confidence wise voluntary de-banded to a 5 after having a breakdown at work too. I really never pictured myself being this unhappy in a role that so many people only ever dream of. I don't mean to seem ungrateful because I'm not, I appreciate all of the good things about this job but I just need some insight into what other people think and how they would feel in this situation?
First, you have recognised there is a problem and have seen your GP - excellent, that can sometimes be the hardest thing. Take their advice, go off sick, take time for yourself. Your health (mental and physical) is important.
You say that you are the only male - are you trying to 'man up'? Don't.
I do not know what a DNS is or does but reading your post you sound frustrated, overworked, overburdened and being given far too much responsibility and nowhere near enough time to complete tasks.
It seems as if you are at the beck and call of everyone else with no clear picture of your role.
Why are you the only one doing weekends? Why are you being given the endocrinology role without any experience?
If you are working weekends you get proper time off - not time due. You could be working 12 days in a row if they decide not to give you your "time due".
When you feel better take some time to discuss with your manager your role and their expectations - BEFORE you return to work. Do this with occupational health involvement and also your union.
Worst comes to the worst there is no shame in downgrading - especially from the hellhole you are describing.
Are your management aware that if people are leaving because of stress and overwork there is a case to be made for constructive dismissal?
Don't blame yourself, don't go back to work too soon, look after yourself.
Take care brother.
Illegitimi non carborundum.
Thank you for your kind words GrumpyRN. Honestly, with the way I've been feeling, they have made a big difference. I think a lot of it is my depression speaking and yes a lot of the time trying to man up and bottle things rather than just nipping them in the bud and taking a deep breath. It feels so good to get it out though, even just writing that. I am determined to make things better for myself. Thank you again.
May I also suggest that you talk things out. I used to volunteer with the Samaritans and they provide a listening service - it is not just for those feeling suicidal. I spoke with many people who were feeling stressed and just needed to get things out.
There are other agencies out there who will listen. Pick one. It really does help just to talk with someone who is not going to judge you. Even the RCN offer a service
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