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So Burnt Out-Help

Nurse Beth   (656 Views 4 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert Nurse Verified

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

15 Followers; 96 Articles; 231,407 Profile Views; 1,934 Posts

Dear Nurse Beth,

I have worked in cardiac nursing for 2 and a half years and emergency for 2 years. I feel so burnt out from emerg nursing and I dread going to work every day. I really want a change but I have absolutely no idea what to go into. I don't want to work medsurg, and I'm not really interested in OR or ICU. I feel so lost. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas where to go from here.


Dear Burnt Out,

You need a reboot. Stress and the constant chaotic environment can wear you down.

It's a matter of figuring out what is causing your burnout, and where your aptitude, skill sets and passion would be a good fit. Where can you see yourself in 5 years?

If you are burned out on patient contact, for example, you may no longer have patience with them and that can cause moral distress. You may suffer from compassion fatigue

There is almost an infinite number of career choices for nurses, assuming you have your BSN. Are you ready for a 9 to 5 Monday through Friday job? Can you see yourself as a case manager, or an informatics nurse, or in revenue recovery? 

Or do you want to keep your foot in the clinical door? Would it help to work triage only and .  not in the back? How about SANE/SART (sexual assault nurse examiner/ sexual assault response team)? Forensic nursing can be fascinating for the right person. 

I know a BD Alaris rep/educator who is an ED nurse and also travels to implement Alaris pump conversions, training nurses on the infusion pump, PCA, and capnography. He works some weekends in the ED to keep his practice current- but not enough to cause burnout.

Going back to school can combat work burnout because work becomes secondary to your educational goal and future career plans, making it a means to accomplish your goal and not your end game. You could become an Educator or an NP.

If you have your ADN, then you are looking at clinical positions. You could consider Cath Lab or Interventional Radiology if floor nursing does not appeal to you. It would be a very different pace than what you're used to, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your need for stimulation.

I hope this has opened your mind up to the endless possibilities. Best wishes on your choice.

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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Nurse SMS has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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I was going to suggest Cath lab, IR or even PACU. It would utilize a lot of your critical skills but be a real change of pace.

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If you work ED, you're probably pretty good at IV starts.  What about out patient infusion?  Those are usually "normal business" hour jobs with stable patients.  You'd have your regulars you get to know, but enough new people coming through so it's not totally routine.

Definitely not the adrenaline rush of traumas in the ED, but maybe a calmer pace might be the change you need, if only temporarily.  

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I was in your situation in the ED as well.  I currently work in IR and needed that break.  (I've been in it for 2.5 years) I am currently looking to get my foot back in the door for PRN ER now that I feel that I've had the break that I needed.  The issue I'm having is finding anyone let me go back to ER after such a long time away.  Be sure to keep a PRN job in the ED while you are working in another unit.  You never know what will happen! 

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