Burnout in my 5th year…another nursing statistic

I always knew I would end up in a helping profession. Nursing seemed like the perfect choice. It combined my natural curiosity about health and science with the giving, hands on, human interactions of bedside care. I also knew that nursing offers a great deal of flexability within the profession. You can change specialties, change shifts, and work in a variety of settings.

Before I decided to study nursing, I considered teaching,conservation and journalism. Prior to becoming an RN, I worked in recreation/parks, the foodservice industry, and held a factory/production type job.

I graduated a few years ago with my BS in Nursing. I certainly don’t regret having gone that route, but to be honest I feel disenchanted with the health care environment and nursing in general.It certainly is nothing like what I thought it would be.The hospital setting is like a pressure cooker type of environment.

The public has no idea of what a RN does. All they see is the hands on part of what I do, but not the mental stress of overseeing their care, and coordinating everything, and making sure nothing is overlooked.It can be rather complicated and overwhelming.And I feel highly responsible for these patients and the 1,001 factors that go into their care.

What has kept me here this long, is I do love to care for people. I love to teach, to listen, to learn. The critical thinking & communication skills are always keeping me on my toes. With all these perks, you wonder why could I possibly be considering leaving this wonderful profession?

First off, I have found that I am responsible for so much more than my own job. Often I have to chase down doctors for things that I feel they should have noticed when they made rounds.I’m not sure I trust some of them, to be honest. I fill in for other departments (PT, OT,housekeeping, dietary, etc) when they are on their day off. There is never enough staff, so frequently we nurses work without a single break at all in our 9 hr day.We are expected to not only be nurses, but also waitresses, cleaning staff, counselors, hotel concierge and general gopher.

And the paperwork! I usually spend 1 hr each day (as do my coworkers) after my shift ends to complete my “charting.”

Oh, how I wish they would just get rid of those useless careplans (we do them in our head anyway, but having to write little narratives on each item is just so maddening and futile…only there for “show” to JCAHO).

I would love to finish up my charting earlier, if only there were enough staff to properly answer the patient call lights, etc, but there never is.

Every time I turn around there is another silly form or regulation that is redundant and poorly designed so as to make my day even more complicated.I am having to write blood sugars in 4 different places, for example.Or how about those “acuity forms” which we fill out to provide information which reportedly determines staffing for subsequent shifts. Well, the matrix of nurses & staff is always fixed, so we all know the “acuities” are a bunch of hooey. We NEVER get more staff for a higher acuity of patients. When I am already crunched for time, I find these useless forms extremely annoying, burdensome and insulting to my intelligence.

I often am mandated to come to work on my days off for mandatory classes. While I do get paid for the time, I resent that they can’t be scheduled during (before or after) work days, because I thought a “day off” meant I wasn’t at work!

I’m also tired of looking high & low for basic items like functioning equipment: BP cuffs, a wheelchair, a walker. It’s so frustrating to have to spend 15 minutes of precious time tracking these scarce items down.

It begins to feel, with the lack of breaks, overtime, rush, rush rush atmosphere and coming in days off..it begins to feel like an indentured servant position.

I do sometimes stay overtime to help out a short shift, but even that gets old. My 12 hours shift is never 12 hrs. It is always at least 13 hrs.

I feel a great sadness because I have come to care so deeply for the wonderful (most of them anyway) elderly population of patients. But I come home so depleted and so bitter…I know it is not a career I will be able to endure much longer.Being a nurse in today’s hosptial setting is unbearable.

Although it saddens me, I feel like I have to consider another career for my own sanity. Maybe I could return to nursing someday if healthcare can ever get its act together and put patient care first.But for now, it seems to me all about money & getting by with as few nurses as possible.They just keep adding onto the nurses responsibilities…and it’s driving us away. I am heading back to school next semester to begin study for another career. At this point, I’m ready to try almost anything else.To all my fellow nurses who stay in the profession…God bless you!

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