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Wants to Quit RN to be an MA

Nurse Beth   (553 Views 6 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

357 Likes; 10 Followers; 82 Articles; 224,919 Visitors; 1,694 Posts

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Dear Nurse Beth,

 I recently quit my first med/surg nursing job. I was there less than a year. I'm 45 and this was a second career. Although I gained invaluable experience, the stress was all-consuming. It was spilling over into my personal life; affecting my marriage and my parenting. I hated it. 

Some examples of the environment: I was responsible for 5 patients, or so I was told. It was upwards of 7-8 usually. I was not only asked a handful of times to perform duties outside my experience (ex. pulling chest tubes when I had zero experience with them), but the charge nurse had the nerve to tell me to delegate a med pass to a PCT. Her reasoning? "The patient likes her a lot and is more likely to take the meds from her." I refused. This put me at odds with her because I didn't take her suggestion, as she said "she knew best." 

The acuity of the patients was very high although it wasn't an ICU. As orientation neared completion, I asked for additional time, as I wasn't comfortable with the high acuity and being so inexperienced. They refused. So, I quit. Here is my question: Can an RN apply for or even work as a Medical Assistant? I want to work in healthcare; however, I do not want to work with such high acuity patients or even work in a hospital setting. Part of me just wants to do basic nursing skills with patients and that's it. I realize I may sound crazy with this question, as I worked very hard for my license. But, it's the truth. I don't want to step foot in a hospital again. I'd love to work in a clinic; however, I only see postings for MA's. I'd even work for an MA's salary. I don't care. The money doesn't matter. Any advice? Thank you.

Dear Quit,

You've had only one working experience as a nurse and it was a very short experience in an unsupportive environment. You don't say how long your orientation was but let's say it was 8-12 weeks. That's not long enough to evaluate if nursing is for you.

Pulling chest tubes is a medical function, but even if you were only assisting the doctor, you need guidance and supervision the first time. An assignment of 7-8 high acuity patients is not reasonable. 

Don't paint all of nursing with the same brush because of this experience. You owe it to yourself to give it another chance. Consider that this wasn't you, it was the facility, and look for a job with better working conditions.

Technically, you could work as an MA although employers may be reluctant to hire someone as overly qualified as you, and it would be hard to make a nursing comeback if you change your mind.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

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

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67 Likes; 263 Visitors; 47 Posts

There are so many other things you can do as a nurse.  I got completely burned out by hospitals and now I'm a school nurse., and I absolutely love it. Doctors offices, clinics and specialized centers offer all kinds of options from wound care, bariatric, hyperbaric, allergy clincs, infusion centers, correctional nursing,  etc, there's also home health, and also private duty.  Another reason it would be a shame to walk away from your nursing license is that no one knows the future of nursing/healthcare.  There are areas now that didn't even exist when I became a nurse, i.e. case management, infusion specialties, bariatric, etc.  The new trend that is evolving is for hospitals to partner with pharmacies to create mini clincs...who knows what possibilities will come out from that.  The beauty of nursing is that there are so many different possibilities, when you find your niche, you will love it.  

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2 Likes; 483 Visitors; 7 Posts

Nurse Beth and "nursy", thank you for responding to my question. 

When I first emailed Nurse Beth, I was a bit emotional; thinking I just wanted to throw in the towel and that any subsequent experience will be like my first one. But, I didn't. I've been actively applying for RN positions and recently got an interview for an Infusion Nurse.

Any advice on how to address my short, albeit negative, tenure at my previous job? I feel as though I have 2 strikes against me; I'm a new grad, and I left my first job in under 12 weeks. 

Thank you!!!

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67 Likes; 263 Visitors; 47 Posts

In your position, you're just going to have to be honest  but frame it in a positive way, i. e.   " I love the medical field, and I love being a nurse, but nursing school didn't prepare me for the realities of a fast paced hospital unit.  I  would really like to work somewhere where I can connect with my patients in a more meaningful way."  That might be one approach, and you wouldn't have to bad-mouth your previous experience which never sounds good. 

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Leader25 has 35 years experience.

62 Likes; 2 Followers; 4,255 Visitors; 667 Posts

Hi,oh you poor thing,but been there,done that,like some nice administrator once said to me,"dont throw the baby out with the bath water". Unfortunately the fact that there is an opening or many openings in certain  units is a red flag of a problematic unit..but  since one needs experience you suck it up  until you get enough to be marketable.You dont have to stay in a hospital there are other places,keep your options open,check the classifieds not just these online zero jobs ads,sounds like you really enjoy working with people, so hang in there.

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pbuttercups works as a RN.

1,905 Visitors; 34 Posts

I agree that there are so many different specialties you could go into that will be completely different than the hospital setting.  I would also suggest school nursing to you!!   When I first became an RN, I struggled also finding my place in the nursing world. THEN I discovered school nursing and absolutely love it!!  You become part of the school community and have so many opportunities to participate in events in not only the school, but the surrounding community, that you feel like you are making a difference on so many different levels.  Hang in there!  You WILL find a place where you feel comfortable and then you will continue to grow as a nurse. 

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