Thinking about leaving critical care


  • Specializes in ICU, psych, corrections. Has 8 years experience.

I had a talk with my supervisor the other morning and we both agreed that my personality, emotional status, and communicating skills are not a good fit for the unit. It's the only nursing I know how to do and have been in this unit since right after my first semester of nursing school (I graduated in June 2005). I'm downright scared about making a change but have resigned myself to either working in a less critical ICU (I currently work in a unit that has extremely high acuity patients...the highest in this area) or maybe something like PACU, ER, or Pre-Op. I'm even considering applying at my hubbie's prison...the benefits are great, comes with a pension, no irritating families to deal with, and the inmates truly value you (the RN's are the ONLY staff they value...LOL).

If anyone has suggestions or has been through something similar I would love to hear it! I posted about a week or so back about burnout and I think it's not necessarily burnout but the problem described in the beginning of this post. I went to my first appointment with a psychiatrist because I truly think I either have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder or perhaps a very mild case of bipolar. He put me on Remeron and I start that today. I am hoping to not only get a hold of my emotions (the ability to control them more) and calm myself down (I'm extremely high strung and hyperactive), but complement the meds with a different environment of nursing. It's weird to think I will be leaving the unit that pretty much "gave birth" to the RN in me, but it's for the best, I believe. My supervisor told me that as a person, she loves and adores me....she even went as far as to say I remind her of when she was first starting out in nursing. But I also understand that no matter what she thinks about me personally, she can't have me disrupting the other 130 nurses that work in her unit.

I'm very open to any advice, suggestions, or opinions you may have to throw at me! I'm pretty confused as to where to go. I did my clinical practicum on a medical nephrology floor and I don't ever want to go through that experience again. It was horrible and I didn't enjoy one minute of it. That is one area I want to stay away from....that and anything relating to OB/GYN!!! NO pregnant women or babies for me, please. And I'm not to keen on pediatrics because of the parents. I love the kids and do well with them but the parents drove me nuts when I was doing clinical on that floor.

Melanie = )

Specializes in Emergency Room.

in my opinion, if your issues stem around your emotional health, i don't think changing to another bedside nursing position would help. is the problem the ICU? or is the problem you??? bedside nursing is bedside nursing whether its ER or medsurg. its still the same concept. i don't know enough about correctional facilities to comment on prison nursing, but i think you are probably going in the right direction as far as taking a job that doesn't require taking care of patients that are critically ill. try the major insurance companies, they hire quite a bit, the job is typically M-F no weekends or holidays and you basically sit at a computer and desk most of day doing your work. good luck on whatever you decide. take care of yourself first and everything else will follow.

RNperdiem, RN

4,591 Posts

Has 14 years experience.

Before you married your husband, you probably asked questions and made sure you knew what you were getting into.

Why don't we do this more with our jobs?

Try spending time "shadowing" nurses in other departments. Ask the unit manager, and they usually are fine with it. Really take the time to see the work that other department nurses do. Get a sense of how the units are run, and if the nurses are happy there.

Hope you find a place to suit you.

wonderbee, BSN, RN

1 Article; 2,212 Posts

Specializes in critical care; community health; psych.

I read your post with great interest. It sounds a lot like my own story.

It was difficult facing each day on the unit knowing I was a weak link on the nursing chain and just 10 months into my new nursing career, I had burnout.

I do hope you don't get discouraged. I have to agree with what Angel posted about bedside nursing being variations on the same theme whether it's critical care or otherwise. May I suggest that you think back on what qualities you discovered in yourself while on the unit and what were you doing the times you enjoyed your job. Maybe you can take those qualities and match them up with one of a myriad of nursing opportunites away from the bedside or the hospital altogether. That's what I did when I saw the handwriting on the wall and have no regrets since I left hospital nursing for hospice. It's been a win-win.


224 Posts

Sorry your going through this. I've been in critical care for many years. Once in a while I get really burnt out doing that kind of care. Many people don't do well, we don't see a lot of recovery. If pt's do recover we never see it . I can always tell when I need a break. I usually get really BI$#$!y, I snap at people, I start to feel like everyone is pain in the U know what. Usually just a change for a little while really helps. If you change and the same problems continue to creep up you may want to re -evaluate. I found that hospice is actually a good change for me when I need it . It gives me a chance to see what happens to many people after they leave the hospital. It is a job that is good for my inner to speak. Just try not to be too rushed in finding another job. Do what feels right for you. Don't think because you may not be suited for ICU, that you won't find your knitch. If I worked in psych nursing I would be less than suitable in that situation, but it doesn't mean I'm a bad nurse, it's just not for me. Good luck in your decision. If you need to vent more, that's what we're here for.:nuke:

Specializes in Critical Care and ED. Has 34 years experience.

I totally understand what you're going through. i went through something similar and could not get control of my emotional self, and would get extremely stressed out. I was also having problems with back pain and the staff in my ICU were very unsympathetic. As it turns out I was forced to leave because I was in so much pain and such an emotional wreck that I was off work for a month and lost my job. As it turned out it was the best thing that ever happened to me as I didn't realize how unhappy I was. It turns out that I suffered from PMDD and Endometriosis, which was why I was having trouble dealing with things emotionally. My hormones were out of control and because I was working nights and very stressed, I was unable to deal with the stress effectively. The pain I was suffering was the Endometriosis....I have Stage III and am having surgery in May.

Out of neccessity I had to find another job and was offered more ICU positions and an ER position, but the pain prevented me from lifting and the ER would have been too stressful. Out of nowhere I was offered a position with an Acute Dialysis team for Davita, and I can honestly say this job was made for me. I love my team, I love my boss, I love my job and everything is perfect now. I feel well and in control and my hormones are under control. The job is perfect because it's more isolated that ICU. You work on your own a whole lot and deal with one patient at a time. I totally recommend it, as you sound very similar in personality to me. Give it a try!

By the way, do some research about PMDD. I used to think I was crazy too, but now I know differently. Hormones can drive you nuts. Good luck!

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