Thank you everyone for all your comments and for sharing your experiences with me. I've been trying to really reflect and narrow down why I'm so unhappy with nursing. I can't pinpoint any one particular reason that's causing me to be miserable, but I do know that nursing, for me, has not been anything like what I perceived it would be.
As I said before, I'm on my 3rd job in 2 Â½ years and I can honestly say I haven't had much joy in any of these jobs. I've found that the tremendous amount of responsibility placed on my shoulders on a daily basis, the pressure of having someone's life in my hands, the insane non-stop back-to back patient workload, and the emotional stress and anxiety it causes, are NOT what I had envisioned my life would be like as a nurse. Yes, I had many, many clinical rotations during nursing school. And yes, they were at a variety of institutions and I was exposed to many different nursing specialties, but shadowing a nurse for clinical hours versus BEING the nurse are two VERY different things. I think the reality of what nursing really is, has me somewhat shell shocked.
I'm currently working in a hospital that is amazing. It is THE HOSPITAL that everyone I know wants to work at. I have the ER job that all my friends envy. It takes me less than 8 minutes to get from my driveway to the parking lot of the hospital. I felt guilty because looking from the outside in, I have it made. This should be "the job", but instead I'm crying as I do my make-up and I work my shifts with heart palpitations and headaches from the anxiety of it all. All of my co-workers say, "Give it time, you'll get used to it.", or, "It took me about a year before it all clicked and I got used to it all." But do I WANT to get used to it? Do I want to live in a constant state of nerves and anxiety, for a year, to finally be "used to it"? Used to working under extreme stress and pressure? I think it's a sad life to have a job where I'm "used" to the stress and constant demands. I just don't think it's worth it.
I'm not someone who feels the need to be challenged or likes to be pushed to their limit. I thrive off of stability, routines, and steady work. I want to go to work, do a great job, help people in any way I can, then clock out, go home, enjoy my family and not have a second thought about work until I wake up the next day and start all over. I don't like feeling rushed and spread so thin that I can't even think straight, I don't like not being able to focus on my patients and give each of them the quality of care they need and deserve because I have 3 other patients to take care of. I hate feeling like no matter how much I do or as hard as I work, it's never, ever enough. And I absolutely hate wasting my days off, like today, constantly thinking about and dreading going to work tomorrow.
I've been looking a lot into case management or maybe going to work as a nurse at a surgery center. The surgery center is right up my alley with my OR experience. It's also one patient at a time, one case at a time, and I can have that one-on-one interaction with each patient during the pre-op stage before their surgery. It's also a Mon-Fri, no weekends, no holiday, no call, job that pays more.
As far as case management is concerned, I think I might do better with a job that has minimal direct patient care. I know that case management involves a lot of paperwork and computer time and I've heard some say it's more like a social worker/secretarial job, but honestly, I think my type-A, systematic, linear thinking, somewhat OCD, personality would probably love it.