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My job is killing me...but I don't know what else I can do??


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Old 5th February 2010, 3:45 PM   #1
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My job is killing me...but I don't know what else I can do??

I am an RN, who has worked in Oncology for the past 4 years. I was previously a med/surg nurse for 5 years and left due to burn out. I thought that moving to another type of nursing would help alleviate that, and it did for a while.

But here I am 4 years later and ready to go off on stress leave again.....

Oncology nursing is burning me out. Day in and day out, I am surrounded by the death and suffering of others. I love my patients, but I just can't do it anymore. I routinely go home at night and cry over my patients and their heart breaking stories. I have become a hypochondriac and see "cancer" in every physical discomfort/symptom that I or my family have.

I feel traumatized from the horrible things I see on a daily basis. I worry about my own personal daily exposure to chemo and radiation. I have stopped sleeping at night. I cry a lot. I am just completely fried.

And so, I have decided to move...again and am looking at moving to another dept in the hospital.

BUT...Is that enough or should I just leave nursing altogether?

Part of me would like to go back to school and just do something completely different but I feel like I am too old and that it would take too many years before I finish another degree.

Does anyone have any advice for me?
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Old 5th February 2010, 3:53 PM   #2
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have you thought about specializing?

my mother is a trained wound care nurse, and she also does some alternative thereapies.
she took classes and workshops... the wound thing was a 2 month course at emory university.

would you enjoy something similar?
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Old 5th February 2010, 4:05 PM   #3
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Have you thought about going back to school for something like a nurse anesthetist, my sis in law does that and she loves it, and it pays really well. If you like nursing no point starting completely over.
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Old 5th February 2010, 4:15 PM   #4
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I am not really interested in wound care or being in the OR. I enjoy direct patient care, but I just don't know if I am cut out for it anymore. I am completely burnt out...again.

I love talking to my patients and caring for them. I love helping people. Sometimes I think that I should of been a therapist. When I was younger, I always wanted to be a psychologist, but my mother wanted me to be a nurse. And I chose to make my mother happy instead of making myself happy.
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Old 5th February 2010, 4:26 PM   #5
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Have you considered employment as a RN/nurse-practitioner or schooling/licensing as a PA in private practice rather than in an institutional setting? Perhaps it's the environment which is getting to you, rather than the care aspect itself.

For me, part of the choice would turn upon seeing positive endings to my work, even in those instances where death is an ending, as opposed to the nebulous nature of psychology. I offer that after 14 months in a psychologist's office for MC. I'm unclear if he experienced the reality of 'helping' in a meaningful and/or satisfying way.

Best wishes in whatever you choose to do. Those of us who have consistent contact with carers such as yourself appreciate your efforts.
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Old 7th February 2010, 12:50 AM   #6
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What about something on the administrative or technical side
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Old 7th February 2010, 1:05 AM   #7
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AG.. My Mom lived your life..

She had to get out of oncology after about 10 years in it for the same reasons you are having trouble, she had trouble because she would form relationships with all the patients she dealt with and they all would die.

She went into being a surgery nurse in open heart for a few more years and then moved on to the hospitals Home Health Care division and did that for about 30 years till she retired.
The home health she still dealt with death but she also dealt with very typical scenarios where people recovered.

Even today she is pretty hard core about death.. she has seen a lot of it in her life..

I can't really offer any advice other than to tell you my Mom's story ..

Moving to Home Health was the best thing she did for her own mental health.
She loved the freedom and being able to form relationships with her patients and their families because in home health they expect the families to be part of the recovery somewhat so she was dealing with more than just a patient and she loved that..
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Old 7th February 2010, 3:27 AM   #8
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Would working in OB delivery be an option?
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Old 7th February 2010, 3:48 AM   #9
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Hi AppleGirl,

Just thought I'd tell you a bit of a funny story to possibly lift your spirits...my daughter worked for an Adult Day Care Center...omg, she had a new story everyday. Most were elderly and she faced the same thing you are...anyway her patients were sooooo onery, they would all escape and take off all of the time...they would sneak out and smoke weed. I was on the phone with her one day and she says "mom, hold on a minute", then I hear her in the background telling a few of the patients to put out their joints (this was not medical purposes either). They used to sell their pills back and forth to each other (vicodin, valium,ect).

They all loved my daughter and were sad when she left, but they were soooo funny...I mean elderly people on drugs? Sneaking weed...oh and even selling it there....

((((((((huggggs)))))))))))
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Old 8th February 2010, 3:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGirl View Post
I am not really interested in wound care or being in the OR. I enjoy direct patient care, but I just don't know if I am cut out for it anymore. I am completely burnt out...again.

I love talking to my patients and caring for them. I love helping people. Sometimes I think that I should of been a therapist. When I was younger, I always wanted to be a psychologist, but my mother wanted me to be a nurse. And I chose to make my mother happy instead of making myself happy.
have you ever been to a therapist? some one to talk out all the stress you experience? again, i can only speak for what i have heard from my mother and my little sister- who is nursing school.
my mother sees a councilor off and on, at times she uses antiD's too.

it is an emotionally hard occupation, and one of the most distinctive traits of a nurse- is that they are strong, empathetic, and care... sometimes more than they want to.

my little sis is going to Guatemala in the spring, with a group of medical students/ doctors and nurses to give basic medical and dental care and assistance to people there that may never otherwise have any type of care.... would that be something you might like? you would get to travel
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Old 8th February 2010, 3:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pureinheart View Post
Hi AppleGirl,

Just thought I'd tell you a bit of a funny story to possibly lift your spirits...my daughter worked for an Adult Day Care Center...omg, she had a new story everyday. Most were elderly and she faced the same thing you are...anyway her patients were sooooo onery, they would all escape and take off all of the time...they would sneak out and smoke weed. I was on the phone with her one day and she says "mom, hold on a minute", then I hear her in the background telling a few of the patients to put out their joints (this was not medical purposes either). They used to sell their pills back and forth to each other (vicodin, valium,ect).

They all loved my daughter and were sad when she left, but they were soooo funny...I mean elderly people on drugs? Sneaking weed...oh and even selling it there....

((((((((huggggs)))))))))))
If I were in Adult Day Care, I'd want to be high 24/7. It's not like there are a whole lot of fun times ahead with adventures and travel and whatnot - might as well enjoy yourself. Bingo while high is probably the only way to play bingo without wanting to kill yourself.

AppleGirl - are there any career counselors you can speak with who could possibly help you figure out what all your options are? Nursing is a huge field - there must be something you can do which would use your training but give you a better quality of life.

For example, I went to a university which was affiliated with a major hospital and the student health center was run by nurse-practitioners. You would be referred to a doc if you had something major going on, but for the most part, you only saw a nurse. I would image something like that would be far less stressful and you'd still be helping people.

Or maybe something like orthopedics where you are typically not dealing with dying patients, just broken bones.

Last edited by norajane; 8th February 2010 at 3:37 PM..
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Old 8th February 2010, 4:04 PM   #12
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Counselling....job changes....

Yes, I am currently seeing a therapist for this issue. She suggested that I be put off on stress leave but I feel that I cannot do that. For one, I need something to live off and "stress leave" is basically "off without pay".

I have actually applied for another job, completely unrelated to my field but one which I am qualified for. I have also contacted my university and am seriously looking at going back to school in the fall.

I just feel so disgusted with nursing and where I have ended up because of it. I need to get away from it for now.....and possibly for good, who knows?
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Old 26th February 2010, 2:34 PM   #13
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Apple girl don't be afraid to make mistakes. If you want to go back to school and learn to be something else like a therapist, then you should. Do you have children that depend on you? Why do you feel so stuck? At any age a person can change there life
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Old 26th February 2010, 9:49 PM   #14
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Applegirl :

It takes a special person to have the love and caring you do for patients.

I think the death and dying on a daily basis has hurt your soul pretty badly.

Hard to recover from it when you go back in the next day and see another patient succumbing to cancer.

I like alot of everyone's ideas here.

Maybe go to the Library or check on the Internet for ALL the nursing fields.

You may fall in love with Nursing all over again when you hit the mark where you belong in life
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