Why are we even nurses?

Specialties MICU


Recently I have become frustrated and burnt out on critical care nursing. I have been working icu/cvru for a short 2 years and have just wanted to scream lately, but......tonight reminded me why I started doing this. I signed up to work extra in a step down unit tonight just for the hours and ended up just working as a tech for the nurses on the unit.(which I was thankful for after the night I had last night) Well, what do you know one of the patients in the unit goes into VTach. So they yell for me and we all go in there. He is actually with a pulse , but symptomatic in wide complex vtach. We call a code anyway and as we do he becomes more symptomatic. His too old IV is ofcourse infiltrated, oh did i mention we found him on the floor because he was getting up to go to the bathroom. Anyway, I get down on the floor and get a new line on him standing in his big mess and just went to town with drugs, etc. I helped to transfer him to the CVRU which was pretty busy and stayed there and started amio, etc and helped the nurse get settled..started more lines, etc.

Ok so my point in this whole thing is that is why I became a critical care nurse. To run the codes and get the crashing patients. It was so nice to be able to do all that and take care of the patient and not have to chart one word!!!

Rarely now a days do I feel like i truly get to take care of folks anymore because so much of my time is spent charting or doing some other rediculous task that administration has forced upon nursing.

Just wondering if anyone else feels the same way? I am happy because I am going back to school in August for CRNA, but to those that are going to stay in the trenches just remember the days where you truly get to do the job that you signed up for and it will make you feel better. Sorry just my .02 cents worth...just had to vent.


1,277 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care/ICU.

Isn't funny that just as you are starting to completely burn out....along comes that patient.

This happens to me periodically where I just know my expertise and teamwork has made a difference and a HUGE difference at that!

Wish I could describe my most recent reality check, but this is an active patient still in our ICU on an LVAD...I don't think it would be right. I can say though that this patient and his family reminded me why I'm doing what I do and also that some of the stuff that I know is just absolutely amazing, still, after several years!


517 Posts

Yep...for me it's sometimes something as simple as a hug from a pt's wife, or a pat on the back from a colleague, or the long-gone pt who comes back to visit and say thanks.... I try to remember those when I'm charting, charting, charting and dealing with the mean drunk who is DT'ing or the ashtray-smelling, drunk wife who is screaming at me to fluff a pillow on a guy whose pressure is tanking. Ah....at least we have oodles of drama, huh?


1,277 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care/ICU.
or a pat on the back from a colleague,

The charge nurse on my unit (no matter who is in charge) always comes around at the end of the shift to thank each and every single nurse/housekeeper/supply person/whoever's there for geting us through the shift and their contribution on that shift.

Likewise, I always always seek out and thank the nurse who may have helped me even in the smallest way throughout the shift. I especially enjoy finding the new nurse and saying "good job!" Many nurses do this, I think it's just part of the culture of this unit. It makes up for the times I've hit the drivers seat in my car at the end of a shift and busted into tears from feeling so overwhelmed by a difficult shift.

It really makes a difference as well when a doc thanks you and believe it or not, so many of ours do on a regualr basis even after waking on the night shift!

It's all good. :)


208 Posts

Specializes in SICU-MICU,Radiology,ER.

I like this post.

Ive been in the ICU for four years now and have just about had it. I love ICU but it would have to be the right one with the right pt population and staff culture to keep me in it anymore.

Then theres the other considerations like location, pay etc.

I also feel more of a team secretary than bedside nurse anymore. I spend more time trying to get other people to do their job than doing mine it seems.

About two months aga I got to run a great code in an ER I casual in. That had me floating for about a month. Now I'm back in the doldrums.

I'm also considering alternatives such as CRNA, or prehospital work.

When I look around I wonder of its just me, but in a way I'm glad to see there are other RN's that feel the way I do.

I once read that the average ICU career lasts three years-


s.c. lady

10 Posts

wow. I think every Critical Care nurse has felt this way at least once (if not more) in their careers. I have been in critical care for 12 years now. I took a brief "siesta" and did home health nursing for 2 of those years. I missed it. Once you start in a field that is so intense, you miss it terribly when you leave. My "siesta" ended in Jan of 2000 and I guess I will retire being a critical care nurse. I think with all of my being that it is a calling. It's just all of the political stuff that messes it up. I work in a unit that has no secretary, no pct's, we do everything. The bottom line? I do all of the other stuff last. I love my patients, work hard for them, and all of that other stuff gets done later.... Don't stop doing what you are doing. Just stay focused on the reason you are there and remember, you are special for doing what you do, you truly are....


302 Posts

Thanks for all the replies. Makes me feel good to know that I am not alone. I am going to to crna in August and I am happy about it. I am not doing it because I am burnt out though. It was my goal from the beginning. Although with all the changes that are occuring in the hospitals now with bedside nursing (ICU visiting hours, EMAR, administrative issues, safety, etc) I am very glad that I am leaving now, because I am sick of things. Good luck to all who are staying in bedside care. Stick together and try to make a difference where you are!

Texas, I hear ya! Seems like I've been taking care of turn 'n' baste exclusively for weeks now. I'm ready for an emergent intubation or any kind of situation that uses my skills and gets the adrenaline flowing. I like my colleagues and it's nice to make people comfortable, but I'm BORED. CRNA school here I come!

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