Healing from Nurse Burnout

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My career as a nurse has taken up 40-80 hours per week of my life for the last 20 years. Sure, its good money. Sure, it’s a noble profession. Seriously…I save(d) lives! What more could I ask for myself?

My career became my identity…for quite awhile…

A little background…I started as a nurses’s aide when I was 18. From there, I knew I wanted to become a nurse and thought I had found my calling. I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Nursing, immediately passed my boards, and went straight into ER/Trauma nursing. I felt great about my accomplishments, but quickly realized that no job is perfect.

I found myself anxious and becoming more and more anxious each day I went to work in the ER. I had difficulty with the old motto, “Nurses eat their young”. I had difficulty with the desensitization process that occurs when there is constant trauma, tradgedy, death, and illness. I still think about and am saddened by the children that came through the ER doors and died on the gurney in my care.

I think the greatest challenge for me as a nurse is realizing that you cannot teach someone compassion. There is no test or education for this quality in people before entering a people serving career. It is sad that although nursing is supposed to be a career for compassionate people, it doesn’t mean that nurses are compassionate, especially to one another. Sad truth for this profession. I guess just as the motto had been that a lot of doctors could take some direction in what is good bedside manner, many nurses can take some direction in what it is to be kind to their fellow nurses.

I left ER nursing. I had children. I adopted some animals. I kept working as a nurse, and am still working as a nurse today. Working as a nurse full-time leaves no room for my husband, my children, my pets, or anything else. I see patients during the day, bring paperwork home and take patient calls all hours of the day seven days per week. Sick or personal time had always been frowned upon in my experience and normally you would have to find your own coverage. Nurses are expected to take care of everyone else and this leaves no room for yourself.

HOW CAN YOU TAKE CARE OF ANYONE ELSE IF YOU AREN”T TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF!?!?

I had to say it! It was time for me to be a little selfish because what I realized was everyone else was suffering around me. because I was miserable. I had been sucked dry…and there was nothing left to give to anyone. This broke my heart because my children and husband are the world to me, but I was in such despair and sooooo exhausted.

NOW WHAT!?!?

I QUIT MY FULL-TIME JOB! I WENT BACK TO SCHOOL TO FINISH MY MASTER’S IN NURSING, FAMILY NURSE PRACTITIONER (STILL IN PROGRESS…THAT’S A DIFFERENT POST!)! I TOOK UP SOME OLD HOBBIES (PAINTING, GARDENING, CRAFTS, ETC.) THAT HAD GOT LOST ALONG THE WAY! I GOT CREATIVE WITH MY LIFE (NURSING WORK PART TIME, BUDGETING, BEING FRUGAL)! I REESTABLISHED MY CONNECTION WITH MY CHILDREN AND HUSBAND (VIDEO GAMES HAS TO LESSEN)!

…AND SO BEGAN MY JOURNEY! 

A journey to heal, reconnect with myself, and divise a life plan for myself and our family. I was inspired by a select few people, but one person’s blog in particular (The Prairie Homestead). My husband truly thought I was nuts, but he is coming along. He doesn’t have all his marbles anyhow. Just kidding! As long as I don’t entirely do away with the internet and cell phones…He’s okay. I should tell you my husband is an IT Geek. That is what he does for a living, so I really commend him for his patience with the changes I have been implementing. I love him. He has been my biggest fan…next to my children of course.

 

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