Nursing is Killing Me

Nursing school was hard. My husband and I were both students, so we lived our lives paycheck-to-paycheck, struggling to survive each semester. When I graduated nursing school, I was so happy that I was done with school (or so I thought) and finally making money. OB fascinated me. Once I got a taste of what it was like, I couldn’t get enough of it. I worked every single day I possibly could, signing up for call every day I had off, offering to work anywhere on our LDRP unit. I loved knowing that our unit needed me, that our patients needed me, and that I was doing something that felt so important. When I’d get a frantic call asking if there was any way I could come in and “help out” I’d arrive within 10 minutes. I would literally run to our unit with a grin plastered across my face, anticipating the day that someone would to tell me to slow down, and thinking in my head that I would just yell back as I ran by, “my team needs me.” With my heart pounding in my chest and my adrenaline ready for whatever I was walking into, I would gladly come to work. My scrubs were always ready, my shoes always freshly scrubbed with bleach. I just couldn’t get enough of OB.

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What no one tells you in nursing school is that bedside nursing slowly takes its toll. No one tells you that eventually every nurse will wake up and realize something hurts or something is broken. Maybe it’s an accumulation of bad days, or busy shifts, or being short-staffed. Maybe it’s difficult patients, difficult leadership, or difficult providers. Stress can be surprising and unannounced, or slow and continuous, eating away your energy piece by piece and day by day. The unexpected and different levels of stress coupled with long work hours and no regular eating schedule will eventually slow you down. There’s a good possibility your systolic and diastolic numbers will rise, as will the number on the scale. And one day something will give. It might be your back from all the lifting and pulling and bending. It might be your feet or your knees or your shoulder. And although you might escape a diagnosis of obesity or chronic hypertension, something will eventually break. It’s only a matter of time.  I never thought there would be so much manual labor in nursing. I never imagined that stress would present in so many different forms. I never considered that nursing would take its toll on me and everyone around me.

I walk with a limp now. I would still go to work (if they were desperate), and I’d still get there in less than 10 minutes…unless it wasn’t an emergency, and then I’d take my full hour to get there. But I wouldn’t be able to run. And now I know that everyone would survive without me, without my extra help. And as I’ve furthered my education and wondered what I will do with it all, I still can’t let go of patient care. I keep pulling a muscle in my back. I keep reinjuring my right knee. I keep waiting for a good time to get my gallbladder removed, waiting for the day that 800mg of Motrin won’t relive my next gallbladder attack. By the end of a busy shift I can barely walk up the stairs in my house. I have to wear inserts in my shoes. There are a hundred ways nursing is trying to kill me, but I still love my job and I just can’t seem to give up patient care.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all know that nursing is breaking all of us. I can’t be the only one that thinks that nursing might be trying to kill me. What are we going to do about that? Because the patients still need us and the work we do is still important and we are called to this profession. But we can’t let it kill us. We advocate every single day for our patients, but we also need to advocate for ourselves. I jokingly refer to myself as an AWHONN groupie. I’m like a serious fan. But the real reason I love my professional organization (and the reason why you should love yours) is because there is power in numbers. And we make up our professional organization. We have the ability to direct what they’re doing for us and for our patients. They fight at a higher level for so many things that impact us and everything we do. We have to fight together. Because at the rate we’re going, we will burn out every new nurse in five years or less and I don’t know how long we can work the way we do.

Sometimes I think nursing is killing me. It has definitely broken me…maybe it’s broken you too. But we know how to get back up and piece ourselves back together and we have to continue to fight for what is right for nurses and for all the people that we serve.  There is nothing more worth fighting for than the work that we do and the people that we do it for. We are capable of so many things. Let’s help each other to back to our feet, let’s encourage those around us, let’s share our stories, and let’s do great things together.

Until my next delivery ❤

Joining AWHONN


74 thoughts on “Nursing is Killing Me

  • June 14, 2015 at 3:35 pm
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    Yes, nursing has broken me. I retired 2 years ago. My body is in good shape compared to my coworkers. But, I feel like I have PTSD. I still have dreams that i’m working and can’t get something done because of an impossible assignment or some difficulty. And dreams with multiple difficulties that seem impossible to overcome. I wake up relieved that it’s not real and that I’m no longer living that LIFE. What you need to understand, I loved nursing and still do. I am a Nurse and will always be one. But, this is my reality.

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    • June 14, 2015 at 4:01 pm
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      I agree with the PTSD!!!!! I have a couple of friends that had nervous breakdowns because of the stress placed on us. Especially with press gainey(sp?) Scores where its either “always” or “never” and nothing in between, less staff that is knowledgeable, crappy schedules , or management that leads with power trips to control instead of manage, so everything is in an uproar all the time. Injuries becase, patients are customers now and have no respect for us. I’m now retired too!! And I feel better though occasionally do get the same dream, of not getting everything done, and I get another patient and that stupid clock won’t move its hands off of 0430!!!!! I’ll pray for you, and all of us!! We need it!!

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    • August 1, 2015 at 9:56 pm
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      I SOOOOO agree!! I’ve been an L&D nurse for 39 years. It’s not just a job, it’s my heart. I’m planning to retire soon at 62 as I can’t take it physically or mentally any more. Moving numb 300 pound women around is getting too hard and we never have enough staff to assist. I always caution new nurses to treat their backs with respect. It may not hurt now but the effects are cumulative.

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    • September 3, 2015 at 6:32 pm
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      I graduated in 1970 when the Grey nuns were still running the nursing school that wasn’t in a College or University. Talk about tough! Those were the days when we had to kneel on the floor at the start of the day so Sister could check the length of our uniform and insure our nursing caps were secured properly without bobby pins showing and that they were also well starched! The number of times my damn cap got knocked by patients or other paraphernalia in the rooms……times have changed. We weren’t allowed to wear nail polish or any jewelry other than a plain wedding band for those who were married. Minimal makeup and hair always worn up with enough spray in it so there weren’t any small hairs sticking out lol! I worked in a neurological unit with 32 beds of acute patients and another room with four beds for post-op critical patients. The circular beds weren’t in the hospitals then so we had to flip our pts. on boards every two hours. We normally had at least 20/32 patients on stryker beds with tracheostomies in half of those patients. There were normally 8 full time nurses during the day and 4 in the evening and night. During the evening and night shifts we were still turning patients Q2h and doing trach. care, foley care, IV changes and meds. We literally never stopped running and our patients really did receive the best care I’ve encountered in my nursing days. We even made time to talk to our patients about life changes for our quadraplegics and paraplegics, home care needs and sometimes just chit chat for those patients who had no visitors. I often sat with our terminal patients at the end holding their hand, speaking comforting words softly even after our shift change. After six years of nursing we were told that our unit would be closing shortly because one of our neurosurgeons was moving to Ottawa to teach and the other decided to go into politics (talk about a career change). I often went home with a sore back, bruises from being punched by incoherent patients with dementia and on two occasions I was hospitalized with Deep Vein Thrombophlebitis which was contributed to the length of time standing on the concrete floors. We were all offered nursing positions in other dept. but I lover the fast pace of neurosurgery and couldn’t think of another unit that would excite me and challenge me the same way. I looked at our older nurses (40-50) on the floor who were fast losing steam and frequently off with other ailments. Did I want to look like that or feel like that when I reached that age??? NO NO NO! I was so fortunate to get a job in the insurance industry when they were just starting to utilize nurses for rehabilitation and assessments that took me to various Provinces and States. My salary doubled after my first year and continued upwards each year following. I loved nursing so much, dream of it sometimes but from a physical and compensatory standpoint, i DON’T regret my change one bit.

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  • June 14, 2015 at 3:43 pm
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    I’ve been a nurse 33years I’m broken, in more ways than one. Physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally, I can no longer do the bedside nursing I love, I am retired from nursing at age 52 1/2. I had to find something else to do that used my experience, but no longer took its toll on my body or finances and before my body became a twisted mess from injuries, (shoulder, back, hamstring, and bone spurs on my feet). I remember older nurses when I first started, they did not have these problems. I think it’s because people used to respect our profession and the job we did more. Now it’s all about “customer service” not getting patients well, people in general being less respectfully of one another. And it’s okay to yank and pull on us like we’re furniture or grab bars. Long hours without enough down time to recover, and no regular pattern to life takes its toll. More and more workload and responsibility with less well trained people to do the job. (Although my friends still in OB say their staff hasn’t been cut as much, people don’t really want to leave!! I didn’t either but moved, so no choice) So YES, I’m a broken nurse, but, I went to school and just graduated with something, that uses all the experience of being a nurse and is alot easier on my body, I hope. I know I would not have survived the next 15 or so years til retirement if I hadn’t made a positive change now! Nursing is my LOVE but, not something that I can do forever.
    I’m tired of being broken! I’m not saying I’m fixed or perfectly happy, but I AM mended and much less stressed and tired, and hopefully I won’t have anymore injuries or surgeries due to work. I still get to work with wonderful nurses and doctors as well as patients, but in health information management, soooooo no lifting or pulling!!!! (Except charts, maybe!)

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    • June 16, 2015 at 1:49 am
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      What are u doing now?

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      • June 16, 2015 at 6:02 am
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        I just graduated from a coding and billing health information management program, I am waiting to sit for my certification (license) then can start applying at the hospitals. The Hospitals in my area won’t interview til that initial certification is complete. Kind of like getting the nursing license I guess, at least here. Right this minute I’m still brushing up for the test, but I haven’t had a vacation in over 3 years so, I’m just trying to relax some. I got a pedicure for the 1st time in months, that I didn’t do myself!!!! No more scrubs! So I need to buy more “office type” clothes, and shoes (no more sneakers for on duty, flip flops or sandles just won’t work in the HIM / medical records dept)

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  • June 14, 2015 at 4:13 pm
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    What a great reality check! As a new grad looking for that “first job,” this post is so helpful. It’s a good warning to pace myself in my new job (that I still haven’t found yet!), set my boundaries, and know that there will be battles to fight to take my vacation days, to go to the gym to stay in good shape, to have tools to deal with the mental stress, etc. I’m older than most new grads, with a whole lot of life experience, and I think in some ways that might make my new job easier AND more difficult. I will have to chart those waters as I start my first job. (I really hope you take some time off to get that gall bladder taken out!)

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    • June 14, 2015 at 5:32 pm
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      Also, its okay to say NO if they want you to come in. If you are sick, stay home and DON’T feel guilty, it has partly been our own fault that we are treated like pack mules!! We, when we are young, and “In Love” with our job, if they call and ask us to work, as said above, we excitedly run in! We LOVE IT!! I think as a result, “they” expect us to come in and/or sacrifice our own time, or work when we’re sick because “oh, that will make the —-rd call in and we’ll be so short, are you sure you can’t make it in??” Don’t let anyone manipulate you into working when you are sick!!! All you will do is make your coworkers sick! Then you work harder because they did call in. Know your limits!! Make changes for your mental and physical health when you need to don’t buy into the line of “what would we do without you?” (If you need to transfer) they will have someone looking for just the position you are vacating. You are not deserting them or your friends. I’ve worked in card/neuro, endocrine, diabetes, adult ER, peds ER, High Risk OB office with residents, High Risk post partum, office nurse for home health and a post surgery unit, now retired and just graduated for health info management. I loved the challenge of all of the areas I’ve worked, but it took me a long time to learn to take care of myself. I’m glad you’re taking this as a positive in how to pace yourself, and maybe if more of us had done that we wouldn’t be quite so burnedout/broken. Though I do think moving/transferring to another area helps to stall the process some, you get excited again and can “hit reset” so to speak, learn something new, get that excited/scared I don’t know what I’m doing feeling again like you are just out of school!! No other profession has the options we do to change jobs, without changing our fundamental job!! Though my favorite is Peds and OB, I’ve enjoyed all of them, some not for very long before I realized that it wasn’t for me, but, learned a lot!!! Hope this helps too!! Jan

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      • June 14, 2015 at 6:11 pm
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        I totally agree with you Janet. When we graduated we so excited and scared at the same time but we were ready to work. We thought our patients needed us and that we were indispensable, if only we knew. I too have been thinking of doing something else but i have been too scared of trying something new, but after reading your comment, i am inspired. I want to say thank you and that you were very brave and know that you will continue to be an inspiration to people like me who want to do something else but are too scared to take the first step. I will follow through with my dream. Thanks alot!!!!!

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      • June 15, 2015 at 3:47 am
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        I so appreciate your encouragement, Janet. I have 6 kids and just finished nursing school. My kids were always my priority, although I managed to get good grades, never miss clinicals, and get along very well with my instructors and classmates. However, I never took on anything extra for nursing school. I know real world nursing is VERY different than nursing school, but that juggle of always keeping my priorities very clear and saying NO without guilt is something I do fairly well. We’ll see if I can keep up the juggling act once I start working!

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    • June 14, 2015 at 5:55 pm
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      I really hope new grads will read these and learn from it as well. Moreover, those who want to go into Nursing thinking its a bed of roses will benefit from reading this too.

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    • June 16, 2015 at 2:29 am
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      Yes! Workout, stay fit, drink water, eat regularly and don’t let them pressure you to eat fast or succumb to the easy-grab food of fries and burgers. I was always told, and thank god I listened “you only have one back,” so don’t let the pts pull you to get up and raise up their bed so you aren’t leaning over them, because it is not good. Your back will wear out or you will be injured.

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    • June 16, 2015 at 10:58 pm
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      I had the same thoughts when I graduated 5 yrs ago. Things happen like no postitions open during the day so you have to work nights and don’t have the time to work out, oh and sorry we don’t have a sliding board to move a pt over so you lift the patient from the transport bed, and you show up for your shift and your 3 nurses down so you have 12 patients don’t think you can say no I only want 6. You are running on empty half way through your 12hr shift so you drink some coffee and eat whatever you can find in the patients fridge. Its not simple you really can’t make choices to benefit you. When I sleep I hear patients screaming and call lights going off. Burn out happens the next thing you need to think about is how soon and what will you do after nursing. Sorry this sound so negative it’s just reality

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  • June 14, 2015 at 4:39 pm
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    I said this several yrs ago for me. It took a long time to realize. Nursing has not been healthy for me. I never had a wt problem. I was athletic, healthy and raising 3 kids with my policeman husband. I too found my passion in labor & delivery. Long hrs, call, nights, weekend, and holidays. I lived it like a marine. Loved it. 32 yrs later I’ve had 6 knee scopes that led to 2 total knees. Wt problems . I didn’t take care of myself. I never smoked, drank, did any drugs. I never thought how the pressure from the nature of the beast would affect me. Still working, not in the big unit, that’s for the younger RNs, but OB testing and observation. But because the big unit is always short, understaffed we are the overflow. And it’s killing me again. I can’t wait to retire someday. I no longer feel the passion I once had. And it’s not the Drs, or pt. It’s the management. How they only see the $ line. We do much more, with much less. The charting is rediculous. They don’t replace the staff when they call in. We’re just expected to do the same. Ok don’t ranting. To the younger nurses. Good luck. It was a blast. I’m just done.

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  • June 14, 2015 at 5:09 pm
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    I have been nursing for 39 years and it has taken a major toll on my body as well! I love nursing and its been my life, but I to am totally burned out! We do not get to take care of our patients like we used to because its all about management, money and numbers! No one prepares us for any of this! Sad, sad, sad!

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    • June 15, 2015 at 4:29 am
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      You’re right Teri. Nursing is not like it used to be.

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  • June 14, 2015 at 5:48 pm
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    I, too was getting to the point that my “burn out” phases were getting longer and more frequent, my frustration was greater, and my ability to bounce back physically was worse. Way worse. I loved patient care (and I still miss it!) and that “in the trenches together” love that you have for your OB family, but the stress of drama and hospital politics was chipping away at that love.

    I knew that in the not too distant future I couldn’t physically manage the lifestyle anymore. So I decided that after 25 years of serving THE community I would search for an opportunity to serve MY community. Now I serve as a consultant to a software company to revamp software products so they make sense in a clinical environment.

    I never thought I’d leave the bedside. I KNEW I didn’t want to move toward the hospital administration route. I just feel grateful I found a career opportunity that allowed me to use my years of experience to hopefully keep my unbroken family that way a little longer.

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    • June 14, 2015 at 10:50 pm
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      Julie…nursing has taken a huge toll on my body as well. What software company are you working for? How did you get involved? I thought about doing something like that. They need nurses to tell them to make things easier.

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      • June 15, 2015 at 12:37 pm
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        Hi, Terri –
        I work for a company that provides “back end” software for all sorts of industries. It’s goal is to make sure all of the information is available in one place to the end user so you aren’t switching between several computer systems and paper charts. I looked into more front end companies – EMR, etc. I have a lot of nursing background AND computer/informatics experience. Guess what? Most software companies that make clinical user facing software? Not interested in clinician input. Not shocking to anyone here who uses them.

        I have learned a lot. Mostly that what we think is simple- “just make it do this, this, and this when you click here!” isn’t as easy as it seems. And what happens “here” has an effect on what happens “there.” But I’m fortunate to have found a company with folks that want to hear what I have to say. Want to make it better for clinicians. Listen to priorities and if something can’t work, explain why.

        I have spent three years translating to software developers and usability experts what clinical people mean when they say things like “it takes 7 clicks to get to the screen I always need from the screen I’m always on!”

        They flinch when I tell them it means “Your work flow sucks especially when I’m moving between screens with one hand in someone’s vagina” but at least then they get it!!

        How to get there? I was lucky that this came to me at a perfect time from an unexpected source and they needed my particular skill set. But I’d say become familiar with your IT folks, volunteer to be a super-user. Take CEU’s geared toward technology. Introduce yourself to the technology reps that support the systems in your hospital and department. Like everyone knows someone in OB departments everywhere? It’s the same with technology.

        Good Luck!

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  • June 14, 2015 at 5:57 pm
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    I too have been nursing for 30 years and am looking to move from acute care to clinic or somewhere else to continue nursing.
    you have all said it gracefully and told the story of many.
    Sadly, the older or sage nurse will tell you nursing was a calling, passion etc. What I see now is a younger generation who doesn’t have the passion, calling, or love of nursing. At least in my area it is a job and income. I know this isn’t every new nurse but so many. Skills are lacking and they are many times I’ll prepared to care for patients…having taught clinical you can’t replace hands on with observation or simulation….it just isn’t the same.
    I pray I can be healthy as I grow into the mid 50’s and beyond….I sure don’t want to be the customer in the bed.

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    • June 14, 2015 at 10:47 pm
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      Very very true Robin. So many people going into nursing today is because of the job security and not because they have a passion or calling.

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      • June 15, 2015 at 4:03 am
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        I have been nursing for 11 years and am in the OB field but so many nurses lack empathy and compassion for their patients. They are more concerned about their hourly wage than how they care for patients. Maybe the nursing schools are to blame – maybe they should have stricter entrance guidelines – or maybe it is the way society views nursing….

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  • June 14, 2015 at 8:00 pm
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    I worked 40 years almost soley in the ED. I totally did my body in. I absolutely loved my job so much I became a paramedic at the age of 48. One could say I was an adrenaline junkie and they would be right. But, I didn’t do anything wrong. I always used good body mechanics. Always got hel0 to lift. We were always short staffed though, so sometimes there wasn’t help to get.
    my advice to new grads, is pace yourself, and WAIT for help.
    would I change my career….NO. i wanted to be a nurse since I was seven yrs old. I loved it, I wanted to work longer, but illnesd got in my way.

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  • June 14, 2015 at 8:35 pm
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    I have 42 years in L&D, still working full time, still taking call each week as well, still rotating shifts (at age 62) … the medical field is really REALLY big on taking care of patients (and their family’s) but very poor in taking care of their nurses… you have to come in sick or be penalized for calling in, if your husband or kid is sick you can’t use your PTO but must take unpaid time off to care for them… we (they) don’t practice what they preach … I would NEVER advise anyone to become a nurse.

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  • June 14, 2015 at 10:23 pm
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    Have been an OB nurse for over 30 years. Have seen the evolution of charting from a single sheet of paper for the whole shift morph into a ridiculous, cumbersome, repititative conglomeration of BS….Some nights I spend 80% of my time ..it seems…staring at computer keys..scanning arm bands then medication vials, IV bags, etc….Patient surveys state that most nurses are not attentive enough…well HELLO! Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why! More computer charting is on the way…adding to the sludge already required…..less time with our patients ..not a good future to contemplate..

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  • June 14, 2015 at 11:24 pm
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    I have been a nurse for 25 yrs with 2 yrs of those years in hhc and the rest in hospital nursing. My first 10 years were great. There was respect for nurses. All disciplines would know there job and the rank of authority. Now, I have cna, secretary and transporters telling me how it is going to be for my patients. There are a lot of people wanting to be the boss and the bosses don’t want to make people accountable for things that they do not do. For example, their job!!!!!! Ilove my patients that are of the great generation but the rest of the ages for a big majority of them are jerks..Having to deal with drug seekers and alcoholics and patients that think the world revolves around them. The doctors are overwhelmed we have hospitalists now so the patients don’t know who they are getting from one day to the next. After all the years that I have been nursing I still get the day before work anxiety in the afternoon before going. So, yes nursing is killing me and I try so hard not to be like the new generation of nurses that are just there for the paycheck and don’t do their job. I was not raised that way but it is killing me inside the struggle that I face everyday. I will be glad when I can financially do something else.

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    • June 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm
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      You sound like Nurse Cranky Pants.

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      • November 25, 2015 at 11:30 pm
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        And you sound like a retarded porter who thinks they can do a nurses job because they transport a bed around.

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  • June 15, 2015 at 1:38 am
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    I have been an O.R. Nurse for 38 years. It was a good job when I worked prn while my 2 children were in school. When they went to college I went full time. I have a supportive husband. I used to love my career. Now, I can’t wait to quit. Totally burned out. I have been able to avoid major injury, but I have shoulder issues, feet problems, and arthritis. I am 59. The thing that bothers me the most is obese patients. It takes more personnel now to position and transfer them. We have to cater to patients and surgeons and treat them like hotel guests! If my pay wasn’t as good as it is I’d quit now. The plus side: I was always able to get a good paying nursing position anywhere we lived. I always knew I could support myself if in need.

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  • June 15, 2015 at 2:06 am
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    I have only been a nurse for 6 years. I work 2 12 hour shifts per week. Being a nurse is taking it’s toll on me mentally. I have severe anxiety attacks before I go to work to the point of thinking about how much I’d rather die than work. I am a terrible person to be around the day before work because I snap at everyone and everything. I am always so worried about how many patients I am going to have or how many patients are going to come in during my shift. I fear this career is ruining me because I constantly live in fear of what my next shift is goingto be like . I love all my patients and treat them all with respect. I never take out my unhappiness on my patients, ever. I don’t believe in being mean to my patients. I have 6 years left to pay off my student loans. I’m so mad because I have my BSN and have seen nothing except a huge mound of debt from it.

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    • June 15, 2015 at 10:08 am
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      Have you considered changing departments? Perhaps there is something out there that would be less stressful for you. Best of luck to you.

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  • June 15, 2015 at 3:26 am
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    I love your blog and read regularly. And I agree that nursing is hard on our bodies. True. But, housekeepers, garbage men, soldiers, wait staff, doctors, etc. all have jobs that are hard on their bodies too. I have had approximately 4 people in the last month tell me they work 7 days/week to make ends meet (working 2 different jobs, sometimes in one day. . . . Not nurses). Nursing is hard, but it is rewarding! Most nurses can work three days a week and survive. Working extra is rarely mandatory. And, whether nursing is a passion or a decision based on job security, it is a fabulous career with great diversity. There are multiple ways to grow and many areas to move into. Nursing informatics, teaching, management, NP, research, regulatory agencies, recruiting, etc. We have lots of options. So I hope to see this generation of nurses not settle for being broken. Choose your path with a gracious attitude that you have the privilege to play such a special part in our patients’ lives. As a nurse now in administration, I see an opportunity to create a unit that my staff are proud to be a part of even though it is hard on all of us. I was thinner and less stressed as a floor nurse I will assure you. I have no joy in holding more responsibility over the success of our unit (otherwise referred to as power). I do my best in our challenging healthcare environment where hospital executives care about the bottom line so they can keep doors open and people employed. Where they can provide a safe place for people in their community to receive care. The Federal Government makes most of the rules, not the hospital administrators. So, if that really bothers you, then give up the brokenness of floor nursing and become a lobbyist or a lawyer. The Lord knows we need more representation there to have our united voices heard. AWHONN would 100% agree with nurses being proactive and doing something rather than complain until retirement arrives. As for me, I will continue to do the best I can to care for myself while caring for my unit/nurses/staff/community because it’s where I am meant to be at this time in my life. I pray for hope and healing for all my broken colleagues out there.

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    • June 18, 2015 at 2:46 am
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      Ummmm. Ever hear of mandatory overtime. Where I work, it’s becoming all too common to go in for an 8 hour shift only to be made to stay for a double because of short staffing. Perhaps you should take off your Rose colored glasses and look around.

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      • June 19, 2015 at 6:26 pm
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        Stop whining! Grow up!

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      • July 21, 2015 at 3:04 pm
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        I guess what I’ve said for years is true…..Nurses eat their wounded!!! Thanks ms/mr anonymous for your “kind and gentle words” You should realise, not everyone can hold their feelings in, this has been a wonderful opportunity to tell our various stories and admit, probably for the first time, how broken we feel. If you are fortunate enough to not need this, then at least say a prayer or sympathize with those of us that needed to express ourselves in a “safe, nonjudgmental” forum.

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      • November 25, 2015 at 11:44 pm
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        Recent- that’s the thing, she’s in admin, so her whole world is rose colored when they’re sitting on their asses all day dreaming up some idiotic policy with not bearing in reality. The closest thing to they ever come to difficult work is their email network hiccup. That would also explain her holier than thou attitude and over-inflated self-importance, and will no doubt illicit a scathing response about how she ‘was a nurse for years’, but easily forgets that she is no longer one, and is now just another bean counting paper pusher making nurses lives a misery. Traitor.

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    • July 20, 2015 at 6:40 pm
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      I am entering nursing school and was horrified at some of the comments I was reading on here. I thank you for an insightful, positive comment.

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      • November 25, 2015 at 11:46 pm
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        If you’re horrified by internet comments, then be prepared for the nightmare that waits for you when your in the real world of nursing.

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  • June 15, 2015 at 12:01 pm
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    I, too, am tired and retired…finally truly gave up. trying to work those formidable 12 hr. plus shifts, dealing with the stress, mental and physical abuse from the demands of the job. I started nursing later in life, at age 51 with my BSN and MSN at 64! I had always had the “calling” from an early age but delayed fulfilling my goal until later in life. I spent most of my career in cardiac care or telemetry, eventually in management but found I could not survive there because I desired to be a leader vs. a dictator — I truly cared for my staff and would assist wherever I could. Every one of our team was important to me, no matter what position they filled. Of course, that did not endear me with upper management in their push to capture that “almighty dollar” for the corporation rather than patient welfare…this led to my retirement. I was missing the job within a few years and returned to bedside nursing for a couple more years elsewhere, finally fully retiring at age 72 due to personal health reasons: bilateral hip replacements and breast cancer, finally listening to my body which loudly complained from the years of abuse. Patient care and advocacy was my “love”, my passion, and I received gratifying satisfaction from helping patients and their families in their time of need. If this is your passion pace yourself, fulfill your personal need for nursing but alternate the demands of the job with activities that give you pleasure to ward off burn out. – be true to yourself.

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  • June 15, 2015 at 12:02 pm
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    I stopped floor nursing last year for all of the above reasons, but a big one for me was the advent of the EMR which had my face in two huge computer monitor screens…..one for fetal surveillance and one for charting. I felt a huge disconnect with the patient. I miss nursing the way it used to be, with the emphasis on taking care of the patient, not the chart. And yes…what other profession has people working 12 hours with 30 minutes off in the middle? I’ve always thought it was brutal…..and at times unsafe! I often ask myself why we don’t take better care of ourselves…..teachers stand together for better working conditions, better pay, better benefits. Nurses? No. We always put others before ourselves. I don’t have any solutions…..just the hope that nurses will start respecting themselves more…..we give it all when we work and then some, and it impacts our health and well being. Work shouldn’t feel like we are going into battle! We shouldn’t wonder if we will get a meal break! We should be able to take the breaks we are supposed to be getting and patient:RN ratios should always be safe. Ok, I’ll stop here. I treasure my days as a floor nurse and I’m enjoying working in a different department now. It’s been a good career, but five knee surgeries have been the result and I’m leaving it to the young nurses now. Ladies….take care of yourselves! It’s then and only then that you can safely take care of your patients!

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  • June 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm
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    I worked as an xray tech and sonographer for 20 years. I love medicine. I loved the challenge. I worked in small hospitals and taking call. It will exhaust you for all the reasons above. If I have any advice it is, to pace yourself. Take vacations, take down time. I decided to do something more positive. I just couldn’t take finding metastatic lesions on one more person, or being under appreciative and it was just never enough. I am now a massage therapist and about to hit the 16 year mark. I do okay, but again, the body is screaming @ me. I can’t please everyone, I am okay with that now. I do a lot of therapeutic work and try to decrease stress on other folks and myself. I think a lot of folks are burned out in their jobs. You just have to be careful and have something out side of work to focus on.
    Some of us give it our all and unbalance is never a good thing.

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    • November 25, 2015 at 11:54 pm
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      Give us a break Tammy, you have NEVER been a nurse, and have NO idea what we’re talking about. Stress? Don’t talk to us about stress, you’re a masseuse for crying out loud. Seriously, how does massaging 1 person at a time even come close to keeping up to 15 acutely sick people alive AT THE SAME TIME !!! Go back to giving your clients happy endings, and leave the real professionals to their jobs. Bimbo.

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  • June 16, 2015 at 12:16 pm
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    What a powerful piece! I will be sharing widely! I agree…there is strength in numbers. Please consider getting involved with http://www.ExceptionalNurse.com, a nonprofit resource for nurses with disabilities. We also have an Exceptional Nurse group page on Facebook.

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  • June 16, 2015 at 4:23 pm
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    Yes, I am a broken nurse, retired at 52 and have multiple injuries, had 2 spine surgeries, and got dependent on pain medications to just function during the day. Right now, I am finally feeling I have recovered from the trauma of burnout after 28 years of working multiple jobs at a time. {at one point I worked 2 full time jobs and on my days off worked on call per diem} The one place I felt like I had any protection from the powers in management was at the VA. And that’s because once you pass your probation, you can not be mandated to work, you have ability to move around to different units and you get a ton of vacation time. It wasn’t always like that, in fact many holidays I worked 16 hrs because another nurse would call in late or just not show up and we couldn’t leave. Yes, forced overtime.
    My point to all this my observation was that nurse management teams I worked for all had horrible control issues. And had no lives themselves so they felt envious of us younger vivacious nurses that did. They didn’t give two hoots that you had just worked 7 days straight, and if someone refused to pull their weight, they seemed to get all the perks on the job. They rewarded the lazy and piled on the work to the few of us that busted our butts for the patients. The didn’t care that you had kids or other commitments. ANd if you were young and strong, look out!! You would be placed with the oldest, less capable staff to play the “pack mule” role, which is exactly what happened to me. Until they broke me too.
    Now I actually enjoy my life! It took almost 5 years after I retired to really calm down, take a deep breath and enjoy whats left of my life. I still hope to return to the profession at some point, but it will not be to work under the tyrants that rule the profession at this time. Companies and health care organizations need to start listening to their floor staff and recognize when they have a tyrant in control. They are the cancer of this profession.

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  • June 16, 2015 at 8:30 pm
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    I live with a surgeon and I was a medical device rep. When I read this I am reminded of my mother-in-law, an RN who preferred the night shift, created social insolation by her own desire, and ended up drinking herself to death. My oldest daughter is in nursing school now. Of course at 21, she does not listen to a thing I have to say. Of course my husband tried to get her to change her major. What I can tell you that has helped me is serious mindfulness training. I have worked with so many nurses at so many hospitals over 20 years that were always eager to hand me a lil pill from their change purse in the locker room or I would have to go find the nure in charge, out having a smoke. The stress is a killer. We need compassionate people to care for the sick and injured, but we also need role models for the young nurses coming a long too. New physicians are not willing to work the crazy hours the olders ones did. They are not willing to take crazy call and have several divorces like in the old days. We see it when we try to recruit. Quality of life it too important for many doctors and it it should be important for nurses too! Hold the line, especially those of you in management. Put yourself first, not last. I think it is a female trait that needs to go away. We can’t care for others if we can’t learn to put our needs first. It is not selfish it is smart!!!

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  • June 17, 2015 at 1:17 am
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    I can really relate to this article. I’ve been a nurse for only 8 years, I’m 48 and feel like I’m 84 some days. I love being a bedside nurse. Most of my patients that I have worked with have been wonderful, some of course can drive me crazy. I’ve worked at three places. I started at a nursing home as my first job. I liked it alot however it was hard work so when I was able to move to a hospital setting I did. I worked at a small hospital for 4 years until they decided they were cleaning house and got rid of 11 people. I loved that job so much. Now I work at a nursing home again. I hate it. I love the nursing but the rest is terrible. I work night shift so I have an average ratio of 40:1. That’s crazy. I have three aids without a float. Not only am I hurting me, but the quality of care is not good. I do my best but>>>>>. I don’t know how to try to fix it. Legally, Ohio says that there has to be “sufficient” staff leaving it up to the facility to decide. Really? They will chose money every time. I love making connections with my patients and being a nurse, but I don’t know how much longer it will last.

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    • June 17, 2015 at 1:37 pm
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      I’m going to make some big changes in my life. First, I’m going to start making myself eat like a normal person. I’m going to focus on my weight and getting healthy and see where that leads me…
      and I’m going to refuse to do anything that I think might hurt me without help from other people.

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  • June 18, 2015 at 12:23 am
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    So true about needing to take care of yourself but really impossible to do that. As far as other jobs having physical demands ..it’s true but most have better protections. Longshoreman and moving men are not expected to lift so much weight as nurses do routinely — and their “loads” are more easily lifted since they don’t grab or move suddenly and unexpectedly. The yearly in services will tell you to “lift smart” “use your legs ” ” get help” etc. However, the patient suddenly grabs you as they walk and pulls you violently. You pull the emergency string as your patient slumps in the bathroom but nobody responds because -they know you went in there and besides they have enough to do with their own assignment. Worse– each little bit of wear and tear adds up. And when you finally injure yourself to the point where you can’t manage anymore — somehow your assignments don’t follow your light duty requirements and the coworkers you always helped somehow turn their backs on you. Being one of the ones who somehow could manage the heavier patient load is a thankless job and only gets you more work than anyone else.
    Now when I overhear anyone say they are going into the nursing field , I have to bite my tongue to keep from discouraging them. We need good nurses, and hopefully they can manage to protect themselves from mental burnout or physical incapcitation.

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  • June 18, 2015 at 2:07 am
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    all of the above is so true,nurses are mostly female and we will not “stick” together for one thing.We are too busy raising our family ,working,being a spouse ,too busy to start a nurses union or equal type protection,because when we are off work we do not want to take up our off time building any protection for ourselves as employees in the medical world.IF MANAGEMENT EVEN HEARD YOU WHISPER ANYTHING ABOUT UNION OR NURSING PROTECTION,WE WOULD BE LET GO.So much for equality,Im simply too tired after 30+ years working s an LPN to even complain anymore. Good luck comrades.

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  • June 18, 2015 at 6:34 am
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    Eight years ago I retired early at 55 after 21 yrs. of Geriatric, Medical and Orthopedic (hips) Nursing, all physically heavy. It took me 3 years to recover from burnout, and I can still stress out listening to practicing nurses complain about their job demands. My back is damaged, I have carpel tunnel, my hips ache, I’m overweight and I have depression/self anger/guilt issues. BUT, I am sooo trying to change my life. I am trying to revive friendships that were hard to maintain because of my shift work, loving my grandchildren, volunteering in my community, and travelling with my husband. I garden, craft, babysit, and finally can read a book to the end. I miss the patients, not the system created by budget cuts. I still need to be needed I suppose, but I need me to be whole again. There is a PTSD that sets into your psyche, a fear of not being/doing the right thing or doing enough, an insecurity for accountability of anything you do that you second guess your ability to perform adequately. There are many more good days when you are grateful for your personal blessings and to have survived to retire mostly in one piece. I am healing slowly.
    The important message that nurses should learn early is that you are only one person, your person, who is valuable to yourself and your own life. You are not indispensable or indestructible…you are only human…and you have a right to have a life…even though you choose to help others. Speak up to change the expectations of your workplace role, your public image, and budget cutbacks. Ask for help!
    Governments would do well to factor nursing value into their budgets. Healthy, happy staff work well together. As in the old days, respected staff that are understood and have input that is implemented can be their best bottom line.

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  • June 18, 2015 at 9:07 pm
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    I too work long hours as a CNM and help the nurses when they are busy. I have been awake many days for 24-26 hours. I think I have had enough. I was 16 when I started nursing and I am now turning 55. So you do the math. Nursing sucks you dry no matter how passionate you are about the profession you chose. It seems you can never do enough for the patients/managers/supervisors

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  • June 19, 2015 at 2:35 am
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    My moment was when I walked into a 4 bed rehab room and at 6:’2″ and 230 was the smallest person in the room and the only one that could move anything below the shoulders. I realized being a big body in nursing was not an advantage, I was just muscles.

    I made my way to surgery after a stop in OB but still knew my body wouldn’t last and neither would my sanity. I work in supply chain now.

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  • June 19, 2015 at 3:19 am
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    After 5 years of nursing I have transitioned into 4 totally different areas of work: medical, worked at a jail, hemodialysis and clinical instructing. When I found negativity weighed in too much in my job I was happy to move along and try new positions. It has been my saving grace! I am proud to be a nurse and in the movement of less pay, less staff, more work and more self teaching on the job I sometimes feel helpless. But only for a moment. I am constantly thinking of ways and ideas to make things better. I voice my opinions and thoughts with co-workers and management with no fear because what is the worst that can happen? I teach with pride about the proper way of nursing and the reality way of nursing. I do not sugar coat the profession nor do I make it appear easy. My students are always thankful for my teaching style and encouraging ways. I am a tough teacher but I am also understanding and approachable to help grow the co-workers I much so want to work along side. Nurses truly eat their young but I am doing my part and creating team players who will work hard and depend on one another, as it should be. In my hemodialysis job I work with the most senior nurses in my hospital and soak up every skill, trick and life lesson I can from them and I value it in my profession and in my life. Sharing wisdom is important in this profession. If you think you can’t do anything to help change this profession. You can. Smile at your co-worker, recognize when they need you and treat yourself with the respect and dignity that you deserve because no one else considers what’s going on with you in your life when they beg you to work. We are taught to prioritize for our patients and we should also be taught to prioritize for ourselves! We are not good if we are broken physically, mentally, or spiritually. Love yourself and your family more than your job! I am a young mother and I realize my children are only small once. They won’t remember how much money I made. But they will remember that I was always too tired to play soccer with the them after school or that I never made it to the champion game because I had to work. We deal with life and death before our eyes every single day! We should lead by example and not run ourselves ragged because in the end no one wins! I am thinking about my body and how long I can manage to do the labour of the job so I am always thinking and planning for future. Life is much to short! I love what I do but I don’t love it more than my family! Because they are the reason I do work. I work to live! Never live to work!

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  • June 19, 2015 at 5:43 am
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    I have worked in healthcare for almost 48 years and will be retiring very soon. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the reality that health care workers are very good at taking care of other people, but are absolutely horrible at taking care of themselves. I’ve worked 20out of 24hours in a day, eaten my ‘lunch’ in the car on my way home following a 12 hour shift and been subjected to bullying at the hands of the people I was supposed to be able to depend on to work along side.
    Over the years, I’ve worked all three shifts in one week, jumped out of bed and ran to help when the phone rang even though I was not on call but knew that my coworkers seriously needed the help and went to work when I was SO sick I could barely hold my head up. I didn’t do it for the glory, because I didn’t look for the glory. I had no illusions about EVER getting rich as a nurse, so money was not the motivation,either. I did these things because that’s how the job was done. I was surrounded by people who did the same thing and for the same reasons: our patients needed our help and care and our peers depended on us.
    Over the past few years, I’ve become aware that my health has been suffering for a long time. I’m now diabetic, have hypertension and hypercholesteremia as well as arthritis in most of my joints. I’m also just plain TIRED of going to work every day and taking call on weekends and at night. I’m tired of dealing with unreasonable people who think they are entitled to being treated like royalty and have no problem telling me that their surgery was scheduled for a certain time and should have been done on time no matter what lifesaving emergency caused the delay. The unrealistic expectations of the ‘experts’ who are trying to move healthcare to a point where it is synonymous with the hospitality industry.

    I don’t want to discourage anyone who is interested in nursing, but I definitely feel that putting forward information that is honest, realistic and not going to lead to the same disillusionment that I have faced is the only right thing to do. When I was in a management position at a Level I trauma center,I interviewed a new grad and was totally blown away by her expectation that she would be able to work ONLY 7-3, Monday thru Friday, with no call and no holidays or weekends. Those are the things she had been told by her nursing instructors were what she could expect for her first job. At the time, that was far from reality. Being honest and realistic about the expectations and working conditions that nurses face every day is far kinder than to paint a great picture and letting them find out the same way we did that there is a vast difference between the picture and reality.

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  • June 19, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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    I’ve been in nursing for 42 yrs now in a variety of different departments in different hospital systems. Finally now have a great manager but I also work very light perdiem. Still feel like it’s taken a huge toll on me physically – 2 back surgeries, 2 joint replacements and I still go in on my scheduled days. My point? I will be hanging up my stethoscope and bandage scissors by the end of August. I’m done.

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  • June 19, 2015 at 2:02 pm
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    All nurses are great people, many are Angles with out wings, they sit with our parents in hospital to give them comfort through the long nights. They look after our children when they are sick or hurt, they look after you when you need it.
    They will laugh with you, cry with you in the joy of seeing your new born child, but they cry alone when no one can see them as they don’t want to upset anyone or make cry.
    My nurse has got her wings and she is an Angle now, every day I cry for you, I now know why you cried for everyone else.

    My wife was a nurse for 30 years and this is how I see nurses.
    They do take care of their own and you cried with me.

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  • June 19, 2015 at 11:52 pm
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    I was actually considering going back to college and getting another degree in nursing because I liked the idea of helping others. Now I’m not so sure and hesitate at the idea of going back

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  • June 21, 2015 at 12:31 pm
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    I understand this article. I’ve been a professionally licensed RN for nearly 1/4 a century & in the EMS world for nearly a decade before nursing. Seen many changes in that time. I’ll continue to provide skilled excellent care until the man upstairs calls me home. I’ve probably received my wings in Heaven, buy not ready to go yet. Still a lot of things left to do on my bucket list. Thanking God above each day I awake in this body. Moved away from the corporation world of bedside nursing several years ago. But continue to pray for all my many friends/colleagues still working there. Awaiting to obtain closure/results in the Federal Class Action certified Litigation/Lawsuit begun in 2006. The 9 member Jury Trial begins on September 15th at the Eastern District Federal Court House in Detroit.

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  • June 23, 2015 at 11:15 am
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    Thanks for the post! I’m a Personal Care Worker in an aged care facility so there are some similarities between my position and a nurse’s position (I just can’t do all the things a nurse can do, such as medication distribution). I work in a low care/independent living facility so I’m not constantly making beds, using standing/lifting machines or hoists, nor am I assisting in the showering of all the residents as most shower themselves.

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  • July 7, 2015 at 4:58 am
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    Nursing for 25 years now and still love it and my patients. The staff and docs are wonderful! I love the flexibility I have with my company. Great benefits too. I’m in great shape, and am not overweight…I’m athletic and slender. I have been with the same company for 23 years now and I can’t imagine ever leaving. I work for a company that allows me to voice my opinion and I’m respected for doing so. The docs are employees just as I am. They do not run my clinic, I do. Our medical director is so compassionate and caring to all the staff and patients. As a matter of fact, he’s held patients while they’ve taken their last breaths. I can’t imaging working anywhere else. I love it!!!! God bless all us nurses.

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    • July 18, 2015 at 10:21 pm
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      You are very Blessed!! but, that said, your working environment is the exception now not the rule, I remember when I first started, how much fun we had and we were respected not only by our fellow employees and Doctors, but the patients as well. More and more the patients want more and more from us because they’ve been told they are “clients” not patients, I’m not a maid and No one deserves to be talked down to. The HCAPS survey has created an atmosphere that, if they don’t get what they want when they want, even if it could be detrimental to them, they will report you. Administration has been driven to get those “good grades” that they bend over backwards to accommadate that mentality, because the revenue is tied to an “always” or “never” answer on a survey. If the patient has a terrible experience at discharge, even if everything else went right and they loved the care they received, to express that one incident they MUST use the “always” or “never”, for example –“Did your nurse explain your medications and Rx to you?” even if every other nurse they came in contact with did explain the medications and the new ones given, the choice would still have to be NO! Its a nasty system, setting us up to fail, and therefore when the hospitals are rated, the scores are skewed by this type of question, and the majority of questions are worded in this way. I’m thrilled there are still facilities that work like they should!!!! but, am also thrilled to be out of the line of fire, newly certified for, and moving into Health information Management, maybe I can be a good voice to them, for all of the nurses still in the trenches and hurting.

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  • July 8, 2015 at 1:06 am
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    As one of my doctors who treated me for my torn rotator cuff, two years to the day after I tore the other one on the other shoulder, “Fe, it might be a great idea if you did not go back to that place where you had to hold mattresses over your head all the time”. He was exaggerating of course. I was working in the Intensive care at the time. I did follow his advice and went to work somewhere less hectic. That was 2003. Six years later, I was out with a bad knee. I guess I could also say, after 50 some years in the profession, nursing has done me in too. But it was just as well that I did not know any other way to make a living because I sure loved what I did and the people I met although it probably damn near did me in. It was worth it. My knees are sore. I can no longer run or dance. I may need another knee replaced, but it could be worse…

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  • July 18, 2015 at 7:00 pm
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    Thanks for this post. My mom was a lifer. She worked surgery, ED, ICU and floor nursing. Even after she began working for an OB/GYN, she still held an ER job on weekends. It was never because she needed money. She was hooked on the adrenaline.

    I remember when I found her stash of drugs. I was 14. Lots and lots of pain pills and tranqs… She was emotionally distant to me and my sister, pretty much stoning her self to sleep after a 12 hour shift. Reading this post, and especially the comments, gives me a renewed appreciation of how difficult life was for her and how tempting an escape into drug land would be. She was never happy away from work, yet the stress and the emotional trauma took it’s toll. I watched her literally wither in the last decade of life.

    I grew up around hospitals and nurses. Most of them are the coolest people ever. As a patient, I am grateful for the care every single nurse has provided, and I always tell them.

    And you’re right, they are childlike in their inability to care for themselves. This is sad to me. They need to save some of the love the give freely to others, for themselves. The most important patient you will ever have is you.

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    • November 26, 2015 at 6:09 pm
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      So true, work allows me to be very focused and have the ability to block out other non-work things that may be on my mind.

      Very well spoken. Must’ve been a difficult childhood

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  • July 22, 2015 at 3:18 pm
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    Aren’t we, actually, talking about the eventual decline of physical prowess (aka you’re not 20 anymore)? To me, that accounts for every bit of “I had energy when I started but now I don’t / now I have gallstones” statements. Reality is that everyone is like that in their early 20s. Most people and professions, though, don’t find meaningful work that pays well right out of school.

    Instead of talking about how your lucrative, realitively low MQ required, in-demand job has ‘broken’ you, maybe reflect that you had a good career, got paid well, and maybe didn’t balance work / life all that well because you found an outlet for your passion.

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    • August 3, 2015 at 8:45 pm
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      Age breaks everyone, but I think nursing is a little more difficult than the average career. no? It’s hard to find work / life balance when you’re on 12 hour or rotating shift work. I think the emotional demands are cumulative and additive to the decline that comes with age.

      At one point in my career, I traveled for seven years nearly non-stop and, ten years later, I’m still recovering from it. They paid me well too, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t regret some of the sacrifices that were required.

      Just sayin’

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  • July 23, 2015 at 6:42 pm
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    Most nursing jobs are 12 hour shifts. It is a tough job mentally and physically. I think the 12 hour shifts are too much to do on a long term basis. (I’m not a nurse but have a friend that is.)

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  • March 18, 2016 at 11:06 pm
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    I am a retired nurse after 43 years….the last 39 in L&D. I also worked as a clinical instructor for 7 years prior to retiring. I loved it and I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else, but it was very hard on my body. I had bilateral knee replacements and have chronic back, knee and foot pain. I also underwent breast cancer treatment toward the end of my career, I have struggled with my weight….partly due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Between working and raising a family, I never took the time to take care of myself. Somehow, nurses need to take care of themselves as much as they take care of everyone else.

    Reply

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