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Toxic relationship with nursing

Posted

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

So I've said it for years now, I've been in a toxic relationship with nursing for over 10 years.  I love my job, but I also hate it and find myself often browsing for new ones more and more frequently.  I currently work ER, my dream job.  I love the ER and everything about it.  I'm burnt out too though.  I mostly blame COVID and terrible management.  If I have learned anything from this pandemic, it is how much our company does not care for its nurses.  I work for a major hospital system within my state, and currently during COVID, nurses are being treated like a child conceived from a relationship of infidelity. 

I'm sure many of you are facing the same issues I am, and I know I am not alone.  Lets just start here with the basics.  PPE, our PPE is locked up in our momagers office and we are not issued new PPE until ours is literally falling apart.  I've even been told to staple mine back together in order to get more use out of it before I could get a new one.  I've been using my same N95 for months now, and I have been wearing the same barrier mask for weeks.  

Secondly, again just like everywhere our nurses everywhere, on every unit are getting sick.  Luckily, I have been fortunate so far.  Now our management is telling us that basically if we catch COVID, it is our own fault and none of the companies.  We will be faulted for missing work, and it will be counted against us.  In the beginning people were getting paid time off that was not their PTO to stay home if they get sick, and this is not longer the case, we will no longer be paid, and faulted for missing work.  The issue here is now I can foresee a lot of people coming to work sick because they can not simply afford to be pointed for missing 2 weeks of work, and they don't have the PTO accrued for 2 weeks off as well.     

I have never been more verbally abused by patients as well as almost physically assaulted by patients as well, than I have during all of this. This has all stemmed simply from me asking them to wear a mask.  Yes, I was almost punched in the face and spit on for asking a patient to please put on his mask, but luckily security was close by.   COVID has put the sourest of taste in my mouth.  We are more short staffed than ever, and this is before we have four nurses out sick.  Running an ER with two nurses TOTAL and each nurse has a load of 7 to 8 patients, all while your manger won't answer their phone to help is physically and mentally exhausting.  Then your staff and manager wants to know why you don't pick any extra shifts.  I want to help, really I do, but I mentally don't think I can take it.  I'm drained, I'm tired you guys.  I seriously don't know if I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Sorry for such a long post, but I have all this bottles up.  I don't have many nursing friends and no nursing family.  I vent to my BF and friends, but they just don't get it.  I cried over my job the last 2 days, and I NEVER cry over work...EVER. 

 

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

This place sounds absolutely evil. I'd like to hope that it's not the norm. 

Get out of there. Post haste.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

My advice? Find another job and do it fast. I have always worked in emergencies....first as a paramedic and then as a nurse in the ED. For awhile I loved it....the high acuity and titrating vasopressors and sedation... I loved all the different patient ages....and how strong and amazing our team was at just always making it work even when short staffed and too many patients or too high acuity patients....I love how we could argue and then forgive each other 5 minutes later. I loved the skills and that I felt competent and strong in what I did. Sounds like a dream job, right? Not so much....

What I didn’t like....my personality changed. I became a somewhat quiet, kind person to someone that judged and felt like most patients were mean and hateful. And many of them were! I hated how nurses could be used and abused and no one did a thing....not when patients threw things at us or cursed at us....especially during times that there was NOTHING we could do to make things any better....we couldn’t help that we had hold patients or were denied EMS diversion or had sentinel events because we were denied diversion and were terribly short staffed. I didn’t like how in general we were unsupported by administration, management, charge nurses, etc. Sometimes all I wanted was 5 minutes to run to the bathroom or grab a granola bar....and I couldn’t even get those basic needs met. I was so angry when I transported a patient upstairs only to find myself with 2 new patients....one in a-fib with RVR not on the monitor or all 4 or 5 (at minimum for patient to nurse ratio) call bells going off and the charge nurse or tech wouldn’t do either task.....or a practically comatose diabetic in DKA by herself in a room with nothing done. Or when I had hold patients that declined rapidly and no one wanted to take responsibility but me.....not the ER physician or hospitalist or intensivist and I was BEGGING for help....I went to nursing school....not medical school. I was bitter and frustrated and angry at everyone. I hated how I would sometimes pull over 50 hours a week by picking up extra shifts or learn every new skill possible, yet the moment that I needed some help and was unable to pull all those extra hours, management acted annoyed that I couldn’t continue to pull those hours.

 

Now I am in surgical nursing.....and I have never looked back. I thought I would miss the skills and critical thinking and team and many other things. I don’t miss any of it. I feel like myself again. I am kind to people and actually feel for my patients and take time to truly get to know my coworkers and learn about their lives. I am happy with myself and am at peace with myself. Don’t let anyone tell you the grass isn’t greener because actually it very well can be! 

2 minutes ago, Jedrnurse said:

This place sounds absolutely evil. I'd like to hope that it's not the norm. 

Get out of there. Post haste.

It’s not. Many many ERs are like this. Some ARE better but many are not.

Stella_Blue

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

29 minutes ago, speedynurse said:

My advice? Find another job and do it fast. I have always worked in emergencies....first as a paramedic and then as a nurse in the ED. For awhile I loved it....the high acuity and titrating vasopressors and sedation... I loved all the different patient ages....and how strong and amazing our team was at just always making it work even when short staffed and too many patients or too high acuity patients....I love how we could argue and then forgive each other 5 minutes later. I loved the skills and that I felt competent and strong in what I did. Sounds like a dream job, right? Not so much....

What I didn’t like....my personality changed. I became a somewhat quiet, kind person to someone that judged and felt like most patients were mean and hateful. And many of them were! I hated how nurses could be used and abused and no one did a thing....not when patients threw things at us or cursed at us....especially during times that there was NOTHING we could do to make things any better....we couldn’t help that we had hold patients or were denied EMS diversion or had sentinel events because we were denied diversion and were terribly short staffed. I didn’t like how in general we were unsupported by administration, management, charge nurses, etc. Sometimes all I wanted was 5 minutes to run to the bathroom or grab a granola bar....and I couldn’t even get those basic needs met. I was so angry when I transported a patient upstairs only to find myself with 2 new patients....one in a-fib with RVR not on the monitor or all 4 or 5 (at minimum for patient to nurse ratio) call bells going off and the charge nurse or tech wouldn’t do either task.....or a practically comatose diabetic in DKA by herself in a room with nothing done. Or when I had hold patients that declined rapidly and no one wanted to take responsibility but me.....not the ER physician or hospitalist or intensivist and I was BEGGING for help....I went to nursing school....not medical school. I was bitter and frustrated and angry at everyone. I hated how I would sometimes pull over 50 hours a week by picking up extra shifts or learn every new skill possible, yet the moment that I needed some help and was unable to pull all those extra hours, management acted annoyed that I couldn’t continue to pull those hours.

 

Now I am in surgical nursing.....and I have never looked back. I thought I would miss the skills and critical thinking and team and many other things. I don’t miss any of it. I feel like myself again. I am kind to people and actually feel for my patients and take time to truly get to know my coworkers and learn about their lives. I am happy with myself and am at peace with myself. Don’t let anyone tell you the grass isn’t greener because actually it very well can be! 

It’s not. Many many ERs are like this. Some ARE better but many are not.

THIS!  I literally almost came to tears reading this because its so spot on!  I just hate it because I love the ER so much.  I feel like I could never go back to just bedside, because like you said, the excitement.    The one thing I am thankful for are our group of providers.  Our docs, PA's, and NP's are all so amazing.  There are just a small handful who do not listen to us.  This is my only ED job, but I've been told by much older and wiser ER nurses that I will never ever in my life work with a better group, and I believe that. 

Edited by Stella_Blue

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

I totally get it.....I absolutely understand. I never thought I would do anything other than ED nursing but honestly, my life is SO much better in pre-op/PACU. It’s a huge culture shock but a good one. There are many good teams and you are just trading one skill set for another with another nursing speciality. The peace I have with myself is completely worth the change.

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

I've always believed ER nursing sounded like pure hell due to how the patients treat the staff. I don't know how you guys do it without becoming bitter towards society.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

17 hours ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

I've always believed ER nursing sounded like pure hell due to how the patients treat the staff. I don't know how you guys do it without becoming bitter towards society.

After a long time, I did become bitter and I hated that change in me. I was afraid my personality would never be the same. However, once I switched to a different speciality where I was appreciated and most patients were quite wonderful, I became myself again. I have never looked back.

being a hospital RN is not worth it...Upper management does not get it and does not care, nurses are dispensable and overworked, and most importantly not truly respected sadly.

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

If you really feel like you are DONE and don’t want to be there anymore: Look into outpatient nursing. I work in an FQHC. It has its frustrations for sure (I was threatening to quit last week!) but it’s just a totally totally different set of problems. For one thing, it is slow paced. I’ve never missed lunch and almost never work late— because the work can always wait until tomorrow. Patients come for their visits and then they LEAVE.  It’s just an entirely different way of nursing, and it works for me. I still use my brain a lot (telephone triage, for one thing) but I’m not exhausted. 

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 29 years experience.

That's dreadful.  

During the downturn that we had after our surge, our facility stockpiled PPE and we are to use a new N95 every day.  Apparently they say we have a 45 day supply, but are asking us not to be wasteful either as we are having another surge.

Covid has always been considered an illness here treated like any other if the staff catches it since we can't prove it's a work related illness.  But certainly we aren't treated like it's our fault and we are punished.   

Thankfully I don't work in the ER and on the floor where the patient's covid status is known.  We know have visitors and they have to agree to wear a mask at all times before they are allowed up and it's not been an issue for us.

Your post and everything about it is dreadful and I'm so sorry.  

amoLucia

Specializes in retired LTC.

(((Stella)))

Chickenlady, ADN

Specializes in ER, GI, Occ Health. Has 7 years experience.

I became bitter and angry all the time in the ER.  So judgmental too.  I needed to get away from it and took a full time non-ER job and only did ER a few shifts a month.  I think I'm a better ER nurse when I'm not doing it all the time.