Burn out

I had a nurse shadowing me that was applying for a position in radiology. She seemed very nice and very knowledgeable. She is currently working at the bedside and decided it was time for a change. We began conversing about the job I currently do and how different it was from bedside nursing. Let’s be honest, my job can have chaotic moments but for the most part it is chill. I wanted to hear more about what made her want to transfer into our department.

Surprise, surprise… She was burned out. She started sharing why she was burned out. She felt unappreciated. She felt mentally exhausted. She was frustrated. I knew exactly how she felt. We swapped stories of our nights of hell. She was curious as to what made me leave the ICU and transfer to radiology. I was honest… I was burned the hell out at the bedside! I worked bedside for eight years. Eight years of endlessly cleaning poop, call bells ringing simultaneously, angry family members, unsafe staffing ratios, little to no lunch break, and management asking “did you update you white boards?”. I realized I was just over it. Now I will say this: I loved working in the STICU. It was hell on wheels some nights but I learned so much.

And that’s the thing, I feel like walking through the nursing “flames” made me a better and more rounded nurse. At this point I can handle just about anything you can throw at me. Being a beside nurse is what really made me a good nurse. While it was stressful, I don’t think I would change anything if I could go back in time and do so. However, I realized I was done and exited bedside nursing stage left.

I recognized I was burned out. I felt it. I could see the change in my patient and family interactions. I literally drove to work with anxiety because I just KNEW the night was going to be a sh*t show. I had to take benadryl just to sleep. Things were not okay. So I made a change. It looks like she is ready to make a change. I commend her for recognizing that. In fact, I commend any nurse that recognizes they have reached the burn out stage. More than that I deeply respect nurses that not only recognize they are burned out, they start making the necessary changes to beat burn out. Know when you feel burned out, it is okay. It is just fine to leave the situation you’re in. You are not running. You are not “abandoning” anyone. You are doing what is best for you.

Have any of you (nurse or not) ever had to leave your job because you knew it was making you miserable?

Job hopping

How long do you typically stay in a position in your nursing career? For me, I have had every nursing job (just started my fourth one) for at least two years. Two years gives me a broad view of my position and allows me to decide if this is what I want to do and is there where I want to do it.

I’m sure there are some of you reading this and thinking “two years is a long time to figure out if you want to be where you are!” For me, not really (keywords: for me). I feel like the first year I am trying to become proficient in my job. I’m the new kid, I am learning how things are done here and establishing my own routine. Essentially, I am getting into my groove.  I learned that when I am the “new kid” I get frustrated and irritated easily and often times blame the job. I go through the “I don’t like this job” phase, not because the environment is bad but because I am not great in the environment and I can be a bit of a perfectionist. That second year is when I am really evaluating my job. By the second year, I am good at what I do. I know my skills, I have my routine, I know this place. I know my coworkers. I know my doctors. I know what type of patients I will see on a consistent basis. I know how the hospital works. I am typically in some sort of leadership role by the second year. This is the point where I can take an objective look at where I am and whether I want to continue. Do I really hate this job? Is it the people? The environment? Do I not enjoy this patient population? Am I burnt out? I feel like I can really make a less biased observation at this point. My “two-year” thing is not something I expect other people to embrace. I do feel like one year on the job is enough for some people to figure out if they like what they are doing. And let’s be honest, those of us that have had more than one job can think of one place that we have worked where we knew we were in the wrong place before we hit that first year!

What I wonder is how soon is too soon to bounce to the next job? I have some nursing friends that have had several jobs in the same amount of time that I have been in one place of employment. Experience-wise, I would assume that it looks great to a potential employer. I mean, this person looks like they know a little about everything. However, I also wonder if having several jobs for a short amount of time makes a person look like a job hopper? Do some hiring managers see this as a “red flag”? Would a manager want to invest in an employee that may leave quickly? I have asked a few people that were or are responsible for new employees and they each said that they look for a year at least.

So if I have any hiring managers reading this: what are you looking for? How soon is too soon to go from one job to the next? Do you even pay attention to how long we are in a position?