Quitting Nursing? Step Down or Step Up
Some days it is extraordinarily clear why you went into this profession; you are on top of your game, the decisions are coming quickly and easily, your intuition is bang on and you know, without a shadow of a doubt, you are doing exactly what you were born to do - to nurse. You are making a difference and it feels great! Then there are the “other days” when you consider quitting nursing.
Have you ever wondered, every moment of the day, why you are here? What were you thinking to choose a profession that would put in you the fire of stressed doctors, sick people, worried families, difficult and sometimes even unsafe work environments? A profession that would have you routinely deal with things that “normal” people wouldn’t deal with for any amount of money, and to go through all of that during hours when “normal” people are sleeping and on special occasions to boot!
Nursing - caring for others, giving of yourself to ease another’s pain and suffering - a difficult job made even more difficult if you strive to excel in the profession. Some days you want to quit nursing. I know you do because I did too.
On those days, take a few moments and ask yourself these questions:
■What made me go into nursing? Perhaps it was an experience you had with a nurse or someone you admired, or maybe you have always loved caring for others. Whatever the reason, reflect and remind yourself as to why you choose nursing as a career.
■What do I love about this career? Helping, caring, teaching, continually being challenged. The technical aspects, the human connections, the flexibility, the diversity, the opportunities for growth. Focus on what you love.
■When did I feel I made a real, profound difference? Capture these moments in a journal. We think we will remember forever, but we forget. Consider starting a nursing journal that chronicles those special times, those special people - they make the tough times a little bit easier to get through.
■Am I doing the best that I can do for my patients? Are you giving top notch care and service you can be proud of, given the circumstances? Or are your patients suffering because you are unable to serve them as they should be served? Honest answers only.
■Am I bringing my team up? Are you contributing to the positive culture of your workplace or are you part of the team that is bringing the group down? Are you part of the solution or part of the problem? Would you want yourself as a team member?
■Do you have anything left for your family at the end of your shift? Do you feel completely depleted at days end or is there enough of you left over to give your loved ones 100 percent. Ask them, too.
■Am I happier more often than I am unhappier at work? Does just thinking about work make your blood pressure rise? Do you dread going to work more days than you look forward to it?
■Do I have adequate ways to relieve stress? This is not a one time fix. We all know the stress busting tips, but we need to practice regular, ongoing implementation of them so that they have impact and effect on reducing our nursing stress.
In the end, it is crucial to realize that we always have a choice. If you are inherently unhappy with your nursing job, please move on. Unhappy nurses have a ripple effect that reduces patient satisfaction (and therefore their healing), brings down the entire unit, and potentially increases the risk of serious errors. If you are unhappy, please step down and move on or step up and create a better work and home life!
Remember, there is always another “right” answer, always someone who has had the same problem as you are having, someone who has overcome it, someone who has written a book about it. Don’t stop trying to make things better; connect with others who are doing great work, bring positive people into your circle and avoid the “cranksters” like the plague. Bring your best to your unit. You will be on top of your game and the rewards are great! You will be even wondering why quitting nursing is an option at all!