Ready to leave bedside after only 1 year?

Nurses General Nursing

Updated:   Published


I'm an inpatient oncology RN working in NYC and just had my one-year anniversary in December (first nursing job).  I love oncology, I love my patients (well...most of the time, anyway :p), and I love almost all of the RN's and PCA's I work with.  However, over the past several weeks I have grown increasingly worn out and truly dread walking into work.  I have so much anxiety now about how short-staffed we will be (repeated staff "high-risk" exposures leading to two-week quarantines have left those of us picking up the slack exhausted and often having to work 24-hour shifts).

I'm an anxious person by nature, but it has been so much worse lately to the point where it's hard for me to even find the bright spots during a shift or for me to find that "why I'm doing this" feeling that can usually carry me through.

I feel that I still have so much to learn working bedside, but so many of my coworkers are leaving and it's making me feel like I want to do the same as things just seem to be getting worse and worse and more responsibilities dumped on us to the point that I feel like my license, and worse, my patients' safety, are all in jeopardy because of unsafe ratios and new policies like not allowing patients to be on a one-to-one unless they are suicidal (not that we often have one-to-ones, but delusional/non-redirectable patients can't be managed by a camera especially when half the time the camera operators don't even alert us when something is happening, and Q20min checks are just unrealistic for one person to keep up with all day while still trying to take care of the rest of their patients).

I feel like if I leave the bedside now, I won't ever come back, and so I am hesitant to do so and miss out on increasing my knowledge and skills when I'm a still relatively new nurse.  I also feel awful when I look at the nurses who have been working bedside for like 30 years and think to myself that I can't even make it to two years before needing a break.  But I can't even enjoy my free time anymore; I'm either exhausted from work and sleeping it off or spending the day dreading going back and seeing what kind of nightmare awaits me.

I am currently in counseling (not specifically because of this, just for general depression/anxiety), just as an FYI if anyone wanted to suggest that.

I don't even really know what I'm asking here but I guess I am wondering what people's thoughts are and whether it would be a mistake for me to leave the bedside now, so early in my career, just because I am feeling stressed?  Just to reiterate, I *do* enjoy being a bedside nurse, it's just that this whole year has been so hard with COVID and getting inappropriate-for-our-floor admissions and policy changes that throw more work on the nurses and staffing shortages etc. etc. etc... I know many of these problems are just the realities of working inpatient but I feel like I'm at my wits end here.

Any advice would be so appreciated!  Thanks for reading.

I've been a nurse for almost 3 years.  I started out full time in a step down unit.  After my first full year, I was really worn down, and I was only working a 3, 3, 3, 4 schedule.  I also had lots going on at home- 4 kids and a special needs child.  My solution was to switch to PRN and only work 2 night shifts per week.  It has been a lifesaver for me.  With this schedule, during COVID I was able to work 7 months straight in the COVID unit without getting burnout.

Hi there, my heart really goes out to you and every nurse working during these difficult times. Thank you for your service.

I went through so much in my first nursing job at a community hospital that after several months I just wanted to quit and it triggered my anxiety and depression. The manager I had at the time did not help, she was a micromanager and authoritarian. It it weren't for the nurses that mentored me, I would have left. I attended therapy and got on medication and worked through it. My therapist said to not make life changing decisions when we are in a vulnerable state but to seek help. I hung in there 3 years and learned a lot. Many years later, I got out of bedside, worked as a clinical supervisor, and now work in care management. After this past year with COVID and many changes that occurred, I hit rock bottom. I am great with wearing a mask and taking care of others but forgot all about me. ?My glass was over filled and it tipped over and broke. I ended up in the hospital and had to go through intensive therapy and was on leave for 4.5 months. The reason I am sharing this with you, is because I have learned so much about my mental illness and health. You have got to put yourself first. I know you want to give your best and provide the best care but in order to do that we have to take care of yourselves. You can always see a provider and ask for leave for as much time you would need to work on yourself and detach from work. I have been back to work since then and thank God my manager has been very accommodating since I have been back. I was terrified to go back to work and afraid to end up in the same place. I see a therapist weekly, psychiatrist monthly, attend a support group, and have so many resources at my disposal. It is OK to ask for help and it might be that job might not be the one for you. Fortunately there are so many areas you can work in with your nursing degree that don't require you to be at the bedside. Care management and discharge planning is another great area to work. You still have interaction with patients and families and I feel that I help so much with my patients. This experience has helped me become more compassionate and empathetic towards everyone I have contact with. I am glad I went through it because it helped me see that I am important and can do so much for the community. Pease be kind to yourself. You deserve the best and this will make you stronger. Help is available and you can always reach out to me. Wishing you the best and take care. ??

Specializes in Mental health.

I I don’t think your job is giving you a chose. Since you are perceptible to depression/anxiety I don’t see it getting any better, and it may get worse. Can you take a leave of absence? Do they have EAP at your job? Still that’s really no ones business. I am so sorry this is happening to you. I wish for better days and better opportunities for you. A big hug going out to you. 

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