I am currently experiencing burn out at my current job. I work on an acute care telemetry unit. I started 3 years ago as a new graduate. The unit itself was something of an “experiment” when it was first opened about 6 months before I started. Administration decided to see how a unit would cope if only new nurses were hired to work. Although we all learned a lot through helping each other and the nurse bullying was never something we experienced, the turn over rate was exceedingly high and still is. With 8 months of experience, I was the senior nurse on a night shift with almost all new hires. Responsible for covering a full team of 6 patients, act as charge nurse as well as be the go to person for any questions was exhausting. Not only was I myself still unconfident and inexperienced, I now had to worry about other nurses as well. Yes, there were covering managers and educators but it still felt inadequate due to the limited resources alavailble at night. I used to leave with anxiety every shift, afraid every time I heard the phone ringing thinking it was a mistake I made. However, I pushed through determined to impress my new employers and secure a respected position in the hospital system.
Fast forward 3 years later, I’m not on day shift on the same unit. Being one of the only “original” nurses left on the unit, the turn over rate continues to climb. 3 years of chronic understaffing with patients way too acute to be on a unit with a 1:6 ratio, and distant managers, I can say I am officially burnt out. I am lucky to be able to run to the lobby cafe and grab coffee during a 12.5 hour shift and rarely leave on time. Managers are aware of this but offer no help and are constantly adding more to the workload. I’ve had shifts where at 5pm, 10 hours into the day, I haven’t even gotten a moment to pee or change a tampon. My urine after a shift looks worse than the 90 year old kidney failure patients I’ve cared for throughout the day and I’ve started to speak up.
My yearly evaluation this year consisted of my manager telling me that it’s my negativity about work causing me to feel that the work environment is toxic. Everyone other staff member, besides nurses, receive scheduled breaks no matter how busy the unit is, and leave at the exact minute they’re supposed to. Nurses are required to sit the telemetry monitors daily so that the techs are able to go eat, yet no one comes to relieve us.
There have been many times I should’ve have left like my other coworkers. However, I don’t like to job hop and want to ensure I know what I want before I make a leap to leave. Instead of these hospital administrators rewarding loyalty, the use us up and then tell us there’s something wrong with how we’re coping. I am know so burnt out that I plan to resign without another job lined up. It has made me hate the nurses profession and regret my decision to become an RN. I know my thoughts are out of exhaustion and anger and that one bad job shouldn’t determine a career which is why I’ve decided to be unemployed. At 27 years old, only 3 years in, no one, in ANY profession, should feel defeated in a way that they are emotionally, physically and spiritually drained.
its quite a contradiction that nurses are taught to be professional, compassionate and competent yet cannot receive any recognition or respect from the health care industry when we stretch ourselves too thin. The believe that “nursing is a thankless profession” is the reason things will never change. Just because we have dedicated our lives to the service of strangers does in NO WAY mean we have to ignore our physical or psychological health in order to do so.
My only advice to nurses who feel this way is to leave when they feel it’s time to move on. Pushing yourself to the limit will only dig your hole deeper. My depression and anxiety used to only show itself on work days and the nights before work. It has now become a chronic issue that I can’t seem to get myself out of. No job, pay or benefits are worth feeling this way for.