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When to know that it's time to leave your first nursing job?

by FutureCRNA5 FutureCRNA5 (New) New Nurse

Specializes in Critical care; ICU; CRNA; CVICU; New Grad. Has 3 years experience.

I was given the amazing opportunity to start my career in a New Grad program at a very well known and established hospital in the Intensive Care Unit. It is a mixed ICU so we take everything! I am about to hit my year there and I have a love/hate relationship with it so far. I wanted to quit within the first few months and for awhile it was going great; until those feelings of wanting to leave started to recently come back again. There are social aspects that kind of drive me wanting to leave; as the culture at this hospital is just so different from anything that I'm used to. Plus, it just takes so long to develop skills. The pay at this hospital is the best in the state and you can't really get this kind of pay at any other facility. The name recognition and notoriety of the hospital would also definitely look great on my future CRNA applications. I guess my question is how do you know when you should leave a position? Is it worth it to stay for the money and the name if you literally have so much anxiety going into work every single day?

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

No job is perfect. If you can hang in for a full two years it'll make subsequent jobs easier to get.

Also, all jobs will cause anxiety to greater or lesser degrees. While environments can't magically be changed, our reactions to anxiety can. Maybe this is a good opportunity to sharpen your positive internal coping skills.

From what you said, it sounds like this place will be an overall positive on your resume and future school goals.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

I was anxious everyday of my 35 year career. Any nursing position holds a tremendous amount of responsibility. We can't tell you when to move on.

Yes.. it is worth it to stay for the money. Money is the reason we ALL work.

adventure_rn, BSN

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

So, a couple of things I wish I'd known when I left my new grad job after a year:

12 hours ago, FutureCRNA5 said:

Plus, it just takes so long to develop skills.

First, you may find that changing jobs now will be a set-back for learning new skills. When you're a new grad, your charge nurses know exactly how much experience you have, and they will generally try to give you sicker and sicker patients as they know you can handle them. It's part of how they 'grow' new nurses into experienced nurses who can eventually precept and be in charge.

When you're an experienced but still newish nurse, you get lumped into this very weird category. Charge nurses no longer intentionally give you sick patients in an attempt to help you learn. I found that I ended up getting lower acuity patients at my second job, even though the overall acuity of the unit was higher; I'd get really frustrated watching new grads (with even less experience than me) getting higher acuity patients in the name of learning.

Also, at most of the jobs I've had, there's this weird period where you have to prove yourself and your skills before they'll give you sick patients. In some units, they won't let you take the sickest patients until you gain some 'street cred,' which may take months or years. Every time you start a new job, you have to start that process all over again.

I found that I got stuck in this weird place where I was never given the sickest assignments because I hadn't 'proven myself,' but I never had the chance to prove myself because I never got those assignments. I also felt like I still had a lot to learn (as a nurse with only one year of experience), but I didn't get the support I'd gotten as a new grad, making it even harder to 'prove myself' (because I still needed help!)

12 hours ago, FutureCRNA5 said:

There are social aspects that kind of drive me wanting to leave; as the culture at this hospital is just so different from anything that I'm used to.

Second, you should carefully consider how changing jobs will affect you socially. As a new grad, I took for granted how much support I got by starting with a cohort of other new grads. We all got to know each other very well from taking classes together, and we became each others' supports.

When I started my second job, I started on my own (no other new hires), and it was way lonelier than I anticipated. When you start with other people who are also new, it's easier to make friends since they don't know anybody else either. When you start alone, you have to break into all of the other existing cliques (since those people already know one another).

Just realize that if you leave, you may feel even more isolated at your new job. Ever since my bad experience of starting on my own, I always ask to start new jobs at the same time as other new people, even if it means pushing back my start date by a few weeks.

12 hours ago, FutureCRNA5 said:

Is it worth it to stay for the money and the name if you literally have so much anxiety going into work every single day?

I wouldn't personally stay at a job I didn't like just for the money. However, I'd caution you that you could leave this job because it causes you anxiety, and end up in another job that causes you just as much anxiety (even if it's for different reasons). I left my first job because I really didn't like the managers; the managers at my new job were better, but I was lonelier, and a lot more frustrated because I felt like I didn't get enough acuity for over a year.

There are a lot of advantages to staying another year if you can stomach it. With two years, you'll have a solid foundation (much more so than one year each at two separate hospitals). Your manager will probably be able to write you a stronger letter of recommendation for school. With two years of experience, you can then go and travel all over if you want to see other places.

Have you ever talked to anyone about managing your anxiety? Most hospitals have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which allows you to get 5-8 free, anonymous counseling sessions through your employer. You can usually find it on your hospital's HR page somewhere close to the 'health benefits.' If you have somebody on your unit who you feel comfortable talking to (I.e. an educator, mentor, clinical lead, etc.), you could also talk with them.

Edited by adventure_rn


Specializes in Critical Care Emergency Room. Has 29 years experience.

Trust your gut and yourself. Walk the unit. Meet the people. Are they friendly? Do you like the physical layout? Do people smile or do they look away...?

Of course you're nervous. There are techniques to manage anxiety. Work with a Psychologist to learn those skills.

Edited by alaskaman