Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

ER Nurse burnout

TheswingisyellowTheswingisyellow Trying to be open to existenceSamsara Veteran
edited February 2014 in General Banter
ER nurse for 15 years. I have hit a wall. I can't do it anymore. I am anxious about going to work, my stomach gets upset, it's bringing me down and messing with my sleep by way of my dreams. When I am at work I feel detached and really am not engaged. I have been trying really hard to be mindful at work and meditate at home, this helps tremendously but it seems to take a tremendous amount of effort just to stay afloat. I am exhausted.
To the nurses out there, any experiences like this? I really think I need to leave and have applied to another unit.
Thank you for listening.


  • jaejae Veteran
    Hey Todd I'm not a nurse but I know the not wanting to go to work feeling... sounds like you need a well deserved break x
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I'm not a nurse, but used to date one.

    First she went into hospice care, which in some ways she loved, but ultimately found it incredibly depressing to know that virtually every patient she cared for was terminal.

    Then she went into ER, which in some ways she love, but ultimately described just what you do.

    Eventually she settled down in a more regular hospital setting, and as far as I know remained satisfied there.

    Whichever you do, I admire your profession.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 2014
    I think being detached is exactly how doctors cope. Maybe that's what makes so many of them cold jerks, and why people tend to prefer nurses.

    We had a nurse here as a moderator for some time. You might try sending him a message (username: Mountains) to comiserate with him. Maybe he checks in from time to time. He posted a couple of weeks ago.

    OP, do you get long vacations, where you can escape and really unwind? Does that help?

    Applying to another unit sounds great. ER would be especially stressful. My sister-in-law works on the premature baby floor, and loves it. She's been there for years.

    Get a couple of massages/month. They really help de-stress. There really is a psychological component, there, to massage. You can come out feeling like a whole new person, and suddenly your concerns fade back into a dull, manageable roar. Or even a minor sputter. Be good to yourself.

    Also recognize that ER work can be traumatic. You sound traumatized. Psychological/emotional trauma is very serious. Again: try massage on a regular basis. If you're still having symptoms after you transfer elsewhere, get back to us, or send me a PM.
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    The debate amongst Buddhist nurses that I know is whether the "Burn out" (which seems to be a universal nursing job hazard) arises from how to deal over a long time with a constant flow of beings who are desperately looking outside of themselves for help.

    The issue at question for them is whether Burn out is really the protective shuttering of ones heart because one has been too open for too long to such suffering or that one has had to be too closed for too long to such suffering.

    Their solutions to continue nursing has always been to switch fields or departments and often after taking a good long holiday.
  • I wish I was an ER nurse
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran
    I've been a nurse for 22 years. What you are describing @theswingisyellow has almost become an 'old friend' except I'm never happy to see it come around. More like a dreaded relative I wish would stay away, because when it comes by, I know I'm in for it.

    I've given it a lot of thought and will continue to do so out of sheer self defense. I just think our job is particularly awful. In order to be a 'good' nurse, your heart has to be reasonably opened and receptive. Then this opened heart is subjected to nightmares every single day you work. No one wants to even get a common cold, much less end up in ER after a car accident, being stabbed, raped, heart attack, stroke, hemmorrhage, pain, ad nauseum. Our open heart, their nightmare. Our open heart, their rage, grief, terror, despair.

    The 'romantic' ideal of nursing that tricks people into becoming nurses in the first place goes out the window, like, in the first MONTH of the first job, it's a wonder there are any nurses at all. Those of us who stay knows someone needs to be doing these awful jobs, and the pay is good. So why not go do some other job where the pay is equally good, or better, and equally disgusting but without the heart? Like . . . become a plumber. Except if you are nurse long enough you know how valuable your skill set is, besides the fact that your whole being has been changed by this skill set and the experiences only nurses (and other medical folks) have. Still some folks say F*CK IT and go off and do something else entirely. Most of the time we apply to different units or areas of nursing :)

    I absolutely agree with you applying elsewhere. It's going to address the immediate issue. There is no cure for the long term issue of being a nurse, I don't think. I don't think our psyches were meant to be exposed to such things so often and for so long. Like I said before it's a wonder ANY nurses exist at all.

    I'm in the middle of volunteering for every low census call-off I can get. The money can go straight to hell, I just need to not be there. Moods and needs come and go, it's part of living with the chronic illness of being a nurse :)
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    As a doctor, I feel for you and understand - it's an occupational hazard, It's just that theres no one there to catch you when you fall. Take a deep breath, take a step back, and go off sick with 'stress' for a while. Then if you can't stomach gong back look for something else... You can only take so much, and then you have to reflect on what the 'vocation' has given or taken from you, and what is required to bring your life back into equilibrium - I am not talkiing about the drug librium btw.

    Am I disillusioned with the world of healthcare - yes; Am I disillusioned with the world, yes. But you don't need my view, you need to to dig deep and view things from your own perspective. If your job causes suffering - you should aim to end it, in the sense that there are other jobs and experiences that can be just as rewarding and interesting but less draining.

    Do what you feel is right to do for your sanity!

  • As a fellow nurse I know exactly what you're saying. I only managed 18 months in the ER straight from qualifying before I moved on, in the 18 months I was there the role changed and I wasn't able to deliver the level of care I came in to nursing to give. For a while I was so focussed that my view became quite tainted and I thought the whole of nursing would be the same and considered leaving nursing altogether.

    That was a year ago ago and after 12 months working in another department I am refreshed and invigorated and ready to move on to another full on area of nursing, as the old saying goes - a change is as good as a rest.
  • Well not a nurse, but a retired cop. I know the feeling, been there, done that. The question you should ask, and I think you answered it already; do I want to stay in the field? You're seeking a new location, but not a new career, this tells a lot! Maybe this is a sign that it's time to move on your path; never forget where you came from, and take this with you. It's time to face a new challenge!
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran
    Another thing to work with is discerning from WHERE the suffering is coming from.

    Is the suffering internally generated by unskillful thought or view? Is the suffering caused by a bad match between you and the work? Is the suffering caused by poor leadership in the ER/hospital? What's coming from where?

    As a new nurse (I'm sure all nurses will remember) my suffering was primarily internally generated. I had yet to comprehend fully the NATURE of the job of being a nurse. It took a few years to let go of my preconceived notions in order to clearly see nursing for what it is, or as near clear as possible.

    My job just previous to this one was my 'favorite' job so far, but my direct supervisor, the director of the chemical dependency program, implemented his directives by intimidating, controlling and terrifying the staff, but in such a professional and psychologically astute manner it took me five years to realize where the suffering was coming from.

    As for my current job, well, it just sucks. My patients have cancer, are getting chemotherapy, and suffering the side effects of chemotherapy. The patients (and family) themselves are beautiful, real teachers some of them. I've worked with MUCH worse staffs. The hospital itself might be the best one I've ever worked in. You can spit on a cupcake and call it frosting, but it's still an awful thing.
  • I'm getting ready to apply for nursing school this week, ....Yikes !
  • jaejae Veteran
    @LoveWins.... go for it, sounds like the guys above need someone to take over and give them a break :)
  • Don't forget the massages, OP! You'll be surprised at what a difference they can make! :thumbsup:
  • On ward and Up ward!
  • TheswingisyellowTheswingisyellow Trying to be open to existence Samsara Veteran
    I think part of my issues is I am opening up a great deal and my perception of people and how I want to deal with them does not seem to accord with most peoples perceptions. I cling to their clinging. My assumptions are sandcastles that I keep rebuilding.
    Keep going with love, compassion, be open to outcomes and a joyful heart.
    Metta to all.
  • ER nurse for 15 years. I have hit a wall. I can't do it anymore. I am anxious about going to work, my stomach gets upset, it's bringing me down and messing with my sleep by way of my dreams. When I am at work I feel detached and really am not engaged. I have been trying really hard to be mindful at work and meditate at home, this helps tremendously but it seems to take a tremendous amount of effort just to stay afloat. I am exhausted.
    To the nurses out there, any experiences like this? I really think I need to leave and have applied to another unit.
    Thank you for listening.

    I am not a nurse but you have said, take a leave or apply to another unit.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Good for you!!!
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    Hot damn!!! Glad to hear it :)
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    I got the position I applied for!! I am out of the ER come middle of the month! Thanks for all the thoughtful replies and listening to my sad tale.

    Excellent news; now let's say a prayer for your replacement...

  • LincLinc Site owner Detroit Moderator
    My mom recently changed jobs within her broader company. She worked in the same doctors' office for more than 20 years (clerical, not nursing) and recently moved to a geriatric care office. As she described it, she would've hated working in geriatric care a few years ago, but now she's really happy to be in the calmer environment and relieved to be out of her old office and its inherent drama, despite her long history and friends there.

    Sometimes folks just change. :) Glad you listened to yourself and moved on.
Sign In or Register to comment.