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The courage to say "I don't want to do this"


Has 20+ years experience.

I am an educator in an academic setting. Therefore, I am constantly surrounded by the 'don't give up' mentality. For those who are not familiar with what goes on behind the scenes in academia, there are certain expectations to keep your job and to be promoted. Each year, you are reappointed (or not) based on your contributions to the department, the college and the world of nursing. It's not just about lecturing and clinicals. Serving on commitees, student advisement, college service (with students), and then the nerve to ask me what service I do in the community. Then there's publishing and presentations. I know there is the perception by some that educators live 'the good life'. Weekends, holidays and summers off. No nights, no overtime. I feel like I never stop working. My life is in a perpetual holding pattern. Then, I spend most of my summers preparing for the following academic year (I am the coordinator of the course I teach). It flies by and nothing else gets done.

Then there's the expectation of obtaining a doctorate degree. So of course,I went for it. I am currently enrolled in the program, and am drowning. Long story short: I don't want to do it anymore. Could I keep going this way? Sure I could, I see the people around me doing it. That was my attitude all along... if they can do it, so can I. But I am coming to the realization that I don't want to. I'm tire of ignoring my family, my home and being generally stressed or irritated because I am thinking about how much work I have to do. I am (relatively) a newlywed (remarried) and have a teen-aged child, who, in no ti will be off to college. I'm tired of living my lie in front of the laptop instead of enjoying life. And for what? Look up educators' salaries :( (if you're one of my new grads, you're making more money than I am).

My point is this: I have decided to not continue in the program. I have mentioned to a few people that I was considering quitting. Maybe it's the word 'quit' that rubs people the wrong way. Or 'giving up'. It suggests that you're a failure. I've already heard "don't give up, you can do it', or 'don't let them get the best of you' (just like I here my students telling each other, when they are overwhelmed and failing). Is there never anyone in nursing school (at any level) that decided this is not what they want? I know there are students I teach that are there because someone (their parents, spouses, employers) thought it was a good idea So I'm torn: I want to just say to those who will ask (like my boss, the director of my doctoral program, and colleagues who are incredibly goal oriented and judgmental) that I don't want to do it. But it sounds like I am lazy and don't care as much about my future as I should. The truth is, right now I don't. I care more about my own health and well being, and my family's happiness, and actually making more money (my job and education choices have put a damper on our finances, and I do not have the time to work per diem or adjunct). But that won't go over very well, will it?


Has 25 years experience.

Don't say quit or moving on. Say changing your focus. Then do just that.

This is your life. My son just left for college this year, and I hear you.

Love the Foo Fighters.


Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 1 years experience.

"I need to have more time for my family. Our finances are limited with me working in education, and I have to make my family a priority right now. I do not have the time to dedicate to this program, I have worked hard already and want to enjoy time with my family now."

It's true that people will keep pushing, "come on, you can do it! Just finish it! I did it so you can too!". Ugh. It's well intended but not always appropriate. You don't have to justify or answer yourself to anyone. Especially if you decide to leave education altogether to get into a higher paying area of nursing. Your colleagues aren't paying your bills, and they certainly can't replace quality time with your family.

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

You have decided to pursue a different path. And that is all you need to say. See it as an open door, an adventure, a new opportunity, and so will everyone else.


Specializes in Critical Care, Med-Surg. Has 7 years experience.

When I left my masters degree program, I told people I was "taking a break" from it. I left it up to them to decide whether they thought I meant permanently or temporarily. I'm still not sure myself, actually... I may go back eventually.

dudette10, MSN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics. Has 10 years experience.

I wonder when my professor in my MSN-NE program ever sleeps. She posts grades on the weekend. Anyone who teaches and lives "the good life" is teaching in a program that doesn't expect much of its faculty. I thought I wanted to teach in a particular program, but the more I see the inside of it, the more I realize it's not a quality program with outdated methods that's becoming a diploma mill. (Even some century-old programs need to be scrutinized as "Student as consumer" mentalities take over.)

kalycat, BSN, RN

Specializes in CVICU CCRN. Has 5 years experience.

I'm married to a tenured professor who has been doing the job for quite some time. To do it right, it is indeed all-consuming. I totally hear you - and know what it's like to miss my spouse, when he's right under the same roof with me. He too has decided to make a change; he's worked so hard and so long and has been so consumed, I don't think he realized just how depressed he had gotten. When he finally made the decision to move on, it was like a tremendous weight had been lifted.

You don't owe anyone an explanation. This is your life, your journey. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled....the older I get the more I realize how much I just want to have fun with my family, have adventures with my husband. You have the right to do what is best for you and your loved ones.

Best wishes!!

Jensmom7, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 36 years experience.

Truly, sometimes you have to stop doing things for others and concentrate on your own physical and emotional well being.

Unless your boss, director or colleagues are paying for your education, it really is none of their business whether you finish now, later or never.

You can tell them any of the good responses other posters have suggested. Be polite, but firm with the cheerleaders-sometimes it CAN'T be done, or you have given it a good try but you just. don't. want. to. do. it. anymore.

I really don't like the "Never give up! Never surrender!" mind set. Why would you want to keep doing something that makes you miserable?

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I personally think the cult like atmosphere of academia, especially the high brow schools, is disgusting. It makes me shake my head in disbelief that so many intelligent dedicated people would sell themselves so cheaply for the "privilege" of saying they work at XYZ University. That it is well known and accepted that the pay is so horrible at some places is it just disrespectful and I truly can't wrap my head around it. I recently had a friend who literally described breaking away from a well known teaching hospital after a decade as similar to Stockholm syndrome. :(


Has 3 years experience.

When I decided not to finish pharmacy school prereqs as a junior in college and apply to nursing school instead, many folks assumed I would simply do nursing first and then go back for the pharm.d. Um no I have had no desire to ever become a pharmacist since 2009. Changing my major changed my life forever and I'm so happy about it. Change is often growth not failure or giving up.

Edited by sosweetrn


Has 20+ years experience.

I don't think I realized how depressed I was getting either. My husband sees it, and doesn't like what it's doing to me. I hate the fall, and have for years. I believe it is related to work. I can't even think about enjoying the Holidays because the week before is the most stressful time of the year at work (finals, failures, dealing with registration for the spring). Then I get into the swing of things for the spring, and I tell myself "it's not so bad". Lather, rinse, repeat next fall.

It's interesting to see your perspective, as the spouse who feels somewhat neglected.

You have the right to do what's best for you. There's no shame in that. You haven't quit... you are a nurse who obtained a master's and has taught. What nice accomplishments! You can change the focus of your energy and succeed in additional areas at this time in your life. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Best decision I ever made was to leave a doctoral program (pre nursing career). Don't be scared to do what you need to do.

malenurse69, MSN, NP

Specializes in ICU / Urgent Care. Has 5 years experience.

There is a difference between giving-up and strategic disengagement. Know the difference.”

-Bryant McGill

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

... if they can do it, so can I. But I am coming to the realization that I don't want to.
Just because we can do something doesn't necessarily mean we should do it. Good luck to you. Now you can live in peace with the knowledge that you did what was best for you and your family.

BerryhappyRN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Nursing Leadership.

I think it takes more courage to realize when you need to stop doing something, then it takes to start doing something.

I applaud your courage of looking at yourself and really seeing what is best for you and your family at this moment. How can you teach full time (with all those ancillary activities), go to school and raise a happy healthy family? How is that possible? There are not enough hours in the day! Yes, it is possible to work full time and go to school full time, but what type of life is that for a young family? School will be there forever, your family moves on. Once your child begins college you can reconsider returning to school yourself.

Honestly, it sounds like your subconscious knows what your family is dealing with, but your conscious is worried about what people will think.

Let us know what you decide.