What makes nursing stressful for you?


The "least stressful unit" got me to thinking, which is, as most people who know me would say, a very dangerous thing.

Anyhoo, for me, it's paperwork. While I'm a work, I keep thinking, "I need to chart!", "I need to fill out the forms for QI," "I need to do the audits," "I need to complete the admission paperwork," etc. etc.

All this while I have the smile on my face as I'm fetching water and a blanket. Or toileting someone. Or cleaning up a patient. It's frustrating, because that's basic patient care, and I'm thinking about the paperwork I'm behind on which takes me literally hours to do, as if the paper work is "something better/more important to do." It's NOT!

That's my beef on the stress I experience in nursing. What's yours?


517 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Rehab.

Constantly fearing that I'm going to get in trouble for something I didn't know was the wrong thing to do (or the wrong way to do it). I fear that I'm going to make a med error or forget to do something, or that someone is going to go downhill and I won't know what to do.

RNperdiem, RN

4,580 Posts

Has 14 years experience.

The level of responsibility is heavy and people are unpredictable.

A perfectly smooth day can go all to h*** in a matter of moments.

The lack of predictability makes it difficult to plan ahead, and planning ahead is near and dear to my heart. Mostly my planning involves keeping up or slightly ahead in my work because you never know when a patient will take a turn for the worse.

There is always a small fear of getting in over my head, of being alone with a crisis to handle.

allnurses Guide

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

2 Articles; 6,837 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 12 years experience.

Too much work for too few staff.

Specializes in CCM, PHN. Has 8 years experience.

Nursing "culture" seems way too conducive to cliquey, hen-house, immature behavior in coworkers who are otherwise highly educated in an applied science. It's appalling how much politics and drama get in the way of the job we are there to do. I find the most stressful thing about nursing for me right now is the mix of gossipy, bitter old bats and new grad juvenile crybabies I work with. It sucks to be sandwiched in the middle of a generational shift like this.


716 Posts

Specializes in Public Health, L&D, NICU. Has 15 years experience.

My job now is as close to stress-free as you can get and still be working, but I only recently left the hospital, and there the stress had pushed me to near-breakdown level. I could handle the actual patient care, the physicians, my coworkers, and even the new computer charting we had started. What I could not handle was my manager and administration. Nothing was ever right or good enough. (not just me, this applied to all the nurses). Nothing positive was ever said. Every time the phone rang and the unit secretary answered and then said "Monkeybug, Manager From Hell wants to see you in her office." I would get physically sick. What now? was always the thought. Everyone was miserable, nurses with 20+ years experience were leaving because of the manager, we had brand new nurses coming in and trying to learn. Breaks were rare. I never, ever had an uninterupted lunch, and there were many shifts where I didn't get to pee for 8 hours.

There were NEVER enough nurses on shift. We went 5 months without a scrub tech and the minimum staffing. I will never forget the day that two of us were in the OR doing a c-section and the House Supervisor came to the door of the OR and asked "what fluid do I hang on the new patient?" What new patient?? We new there was only one nurse left on the unit (that's what happens when there are only 3 nurses scheduled and a c-section comes in, someone has to scrub and someone has to circulate), we didn't know that while we were back there THREE patients had come through the door, one of whom was 8cm and a multip. The House Supervisor, bless her, had answered my frantic coworker's plea for help and come even though she was totally out of her element in L&D. We heard later that the unit secretary and House Supervisor had managed together to get one patient on the fetal monitor, it was a first for both of them. House Supervisor asked had we called our manager. Nope, wouldn't do any good. I guess she didn't believe us, so she called her. "Why is she not answering her phone or pages??" says HS. Because it's Sunday, and Manager From Hell refuses to answer during their 5 hour long church services because that's her "time with Jesus." Gee, I was told that the nurse manager position was 24/7, but apparently that doesn't apply to her. HS was livid, but it was just the same old same old for us.

I have become one of those experienced nurses that fled. I miss laboring patients, I miss my coworkers, and I miss most of the doctors. I do not miss being treated like a waste of oxygen. When I turned in my notice, she didn't acknowledge it at all until I got Human Resources involved. You'd think years of service would at least get you a phone call when you leave. Several doctors told me that they hated to see me go, but not a word from MFH.

I'm trying to learn to let it go. I have the world's most perfect job now, and I should enjoy it, but it's hard to forget all that happened.


1,131 Posts

Specializes in ICU.


Specializes in ICU. Has 30 years experience.

Family members. The ones who call you for every tiny, little thing, that they or the patient could easily do themselves. The ones who want you to pull the patient up in bed, you know the same patient that is a walkie-talkie, ambulatory one who has been walking up and down the halls all day, but when the family comes in, they suddenly can't move. The family member who gets right in your NPO patient's face and loudly says, "Are you hungry?!?" Nurse, he's hungry! Or, he's needs something for pain! right after the patient just told you he isn't hurting anywhere and doesn't need anything. The ones who know more than you because their friend's aunt's neice is in nursing school. And my favorite, the ones who just met you five minutes ago, but go to administration to complain about your lack of professionalism/compassion/ethics/morals whathaveyou because you didn't immediately grovel over them and do whatever they said, regardless of the doctor's orders.

Nurse ABC

437 Posts

Has 14 years experience.

Not being able to really give good patient care and being afraid I'm going to miss something important because I have way too many patients. I spend more time on the stupid slow computer program than I do with my patients because we have to document all this stuff to prove we took good care of the patient that we don't have much time to take care of.


1,198 Posts

Specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

Being understaffed.

Being accountable/blamed for everything...the doctor didn't make rounds early enough, the food is nasty,RT was late with breathing treatment,the lab stuck them 2 times, the CT scanner is broken, etc. Somehow nursing has to hear these complaints, apologize and try to "fix" it.

Higher acuity patients on regular floors


151 Posts

Specializes in LTC, medsurg. Has 10 years experience.

Everything. My last day was 3 discharges within 2-3 hours knowing that beds were needed. All the while trying to make med passes, medicate for pain. Get my discharges done then 3 new admissions. It gets crazy sometimes and it's too much for one nurse. Makes me regret going into nursing. As hard as I work sometimes $50/hr still wouldn't be enough.


376 Posts

Specializes in Psych. Has 6 years experience.

Narrative charting. I am terrified that 3-5 years from now, I'll be sitting in court trying to defend what I wrote and find glaring loopholes in my notes. Or have no clue what I wrote because we use paper charting and my handwriting gets worse when I'm under time pressure, a.k.a. every darn day.