Diaries of a Labor and Delivery Nurse: When Work is Like an Abusive Relationship

In nursing, sometimes work can feel like an abusive relationship. I don’t say those words lightly. I’ve worked at places where I literally felt 16 again, standing in front of someone who would never see my worth, begging them to just like me. Let me spoil the ending—they were never worth my time anyway 😉

If this feels like you, I have good news and bad news. But first, take a deep breath and take a step back before crying, or begging, quitting, or killing yourself trying to please someone who may (or may not) ever know your worth. That’s the bad news—other people may never ever know your value. This might mean you need to do some self-reflection, but in most cases, it may mean you just need to say goodbye. The good news about nursing is that we always have the opportunity to learn, and grow, and move forward. Goodbye doesn’t have to be forever.

Leaving a job is hard. Our co-workers are like family, it’s hard leaving people we get to know and learn to love. What I’ve learned so far is to not make decisions or write e-mails when any type of emotion is involved. That took me a long time to learn. Trust me, take a few days to collect your thoughts and ensure that emotions aren’t adding unnecessary weight to your words.

Don’t be afraid of the unknown. You will find a job. It might be worse than the one you have now, but it might be better. Either way, it will give you an opportunity to learn, and remember: goodbye doesn’t have to be forever. You don’t know what’s out there unless you’re open to the possibility of something new.

Take some time to consider what brings you joy. What is important to you at this moment? At different points in my career, sometimes I’ve wanted to change the world and sometimes I’ve just wanted to be able to take my kids to school in the morning and catch their volleyball game on the weekend. You can’t be happy until you’ve identified what your current priorities are. And it’s okay if those priorities change.

What you believe to be there, may be different from reality :/

Take some time to self-reflect, even if you know your worth. Is there something you could be doing differently? Could you alter your approach? Could you sit down and talk to leadership when heated emotions aren’t shaking your voice? Most formal leaders are secretly in the exact same boat…trying to stay afloat, taking it day-by-day, and having to answer to someone “above’ them. If you ask to have an honest conversation with your boss, they will likely be receptive. If they’re not, you need to leave anyway. Be transparent, and try to be as receptive as you’re asking them to be.

It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, all work is hard. One of my favorite quotes: You can’t have a million-dollar dream with a $1 work ethic. So be prepared to work regardless of where you’re at, or get use to being poor. Maybe being poor will bring you joy if that means you can eat breakfast with your kids. Nurses are resourceful though, you can figure it out.

It also doesn’t matter how good you are or how worthy you believe to be, make no mistake—they will survive without you. The secret isn’t trying to get them to want you, it’s learning to work with them to find mutual goals and missionsWhen you find common ground, you may see that everything improves ♥

Find comfort knowing that you really are in control of your own happiness, and you may have more options than you realize. Don’t make emotional decisions, but don’t be afraid of the unknown. If there’s anyone out there feeling hopeless, or undervalued, please know that you’re not alone and you never have been.

Until my next delivery ❤


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