Dear Nurse Beth,
I'm not sure if I should be a nurse anymore?
So maybe it is more of an anxiety issue or just completely want to let go of nursing. I am a 28 yr old whose got around 5 years of nursing experience. I have tried multiple areas such as LTC (6 months),complex continuing care/palliative care (maybe 2 years and half), neurosurgery (about a year), some medicine (6 months), L&D (4 months) and recently a nurse consultant at a worker's compensation insurance company (7 months).
I feel like I just can't seem to find my niche or if I am interested in it, the acuity of the unit is too much for me to handle. I am a quite shy and introverted person and until now have a hard time talking to people, especially those in authoritative positions. I have tried to practice to be more assertive but my anxieties just get to me.
I have been a charge nurse and even got awarded for a leadership and innovative practice award in my hospital as one of the 9 recipients which was very surprising to me. I am the last person to think of myself as a leader! I kept moving to different units and I really thought that L&D is where I would want to be at. Actually, I much rather want to do postpartum than L&D. It was going to be my plan to be in L&D for a couple months just to understand the basics then move on to postpartum. But it did not end up happening because I received a full time permanent position as a nurse consultant. It is pretty much almost every nurse's dream I guess with the consistent Monday to Friday hours, good benefits and security and no weekends or holidays.
In my current role as nurse consultant, the only interaction is through a phone. So I thought with my social anxieties it would be a better option for my mental and physical health. Over time I felt like it ended up having the opposite effect. I don't feel physically healthy with the sedentary lifestyle and mentally I am even more anxious because I constantly think about what I should do next or what I should be doing the next day. I feel like treatments are often delayed because I can't make a decision whether I should cover for the treatment or not or if it is within the policy. Clients will be extremely mad at the phone conversation with me if I tell them I can't cover/pay for it or they can't be reimbursed for something. It's all about money. I feel uneasy when I think about health care and money. Even confrontations on the phone I ended up crying about later on. You would think my stress tolerance over the years would increase but I feel like I have gotten worse as a nurse.
I am seeing a psychologist to help me cope but it has helped in some degree. But on top of my anxieties I seem to feel like I am just truly not enjoying it even though I know I am new and almost feel like I miss the hands on skills. I'm not the best communicator and I feel like I am able to truly show that I care for someone if I do things in a more physical manner like changing their wound dressings and giving them their medications and some teaching. I am thinking about going back to school to specialize in something but not sure on what (OB, Dialysis, palliative, OR). OR completely change my career path but still be in health care somehow like medical lab technologist but I feel like this will be a waste of time and become a disappointment to my family.
Truly apologize for the rant... I just don't really know what to do and I panic when I think about work. I know nurses around the world do have it worst than me right now with the Covid because I get to work from home and I shouldn't even be complaining. But I kind of also want to be out there and helping everyone who is suffering. I definitely still have to work on my mental health and don't want to make any decisions I will regret. I have tried to be optimistic every time I choose to move to another unit and hope that this is where I want to be in only to feel even more disappointed
Your problem is not going to be solved by changing jobs, because your problem is not your job. Every time you get a new job to decrease your stress or avoid people, some other aspect of the job triggers you.
This is not a career problem. It's a medical problem.
You cry about work, experience anxiety, are worried and stressed. You find it hard to make decisions, avoid people and situations, and fear authority. You have loss of joy.
It's good you are seeing a psychologist and it can only help you gain insight into yourself and perhaps gain some coping skills. It should give you a more realistic perspective.
A psychologist cannot prescribe medications, however, and you most likely have a diagnosable and completely treatable medical condition-meaning anxiety and maybe depression. The important thing is, your medical doctor can help you.
You do not have to keep suffering.
I love what you said about how you show you care for others- by doing things for them in a physical manner, such as changing dressings, giving meds, and patient teaching. I think you describe the love language of nurses very well.
Others see that you are a leader, and you haven't yet been the best you can be because your condition is holding you back from the best you.
It's going to be amazing how much better you'll feel with the right treatment.
Related article: Confessions of an Introvert
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