Those Emergency Blahs

I’ve worked as an Emergency Department nurse for something like thirteen years now, and at my present position more or less for ten years.  It’s probably safe to say I’ve seen just about everything from the incredible tragic to the incredible funny, the good, the bizarre and the ugly. As I’ve said before, I’m blessed to have one of the coolest jobs around, and lucky to do something I can (sometimes) feel passionate about. Last few weeks though, I’ve been really out of sorts. The bloom is going off the rose. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Sense of general dissatisfaction? Bored? Just plain tired? I don’t know. My colleagues are really starting to annoy me, where before I could look upon their foibles with a sense of humour and plain tolerance, and I am starting to think I’m annoying the shit out of them as well. I come in some days, look at the staffing line-up and wish I had called in sick. The patients lately seem to be rude and hostile, or more so. Every problem seems to take massive amounts of time and energy to fix, and Acme Regional’s bureaucracy seems more obtuse than ever. Every little piece is taking its toll, and I don’t seem to have the reserves anymore to make up for the loss.

Bleh. 

I’m not tripping the light fantastic anymore.

Fact is, I’m starting to dread going into work at all. Signs and symptoms of burnout? I have ten days holiday coming up shortly. After that break, maybe I’ll have some perspective. But I’m thinking it’s time to go and do something else.

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  1. #1 by Amanda Trujillo on Monday 05 March 2012 - 0849

    you know you just miss talking to me :)

  2. #2 by Joni Watson on Monday 05 March 2012 - 0908

    Yes, most definitely a sign of burnout…I’ve experienced exactly that before, as well. Here’s hoping your 10 days off will rejuvenate yourself back to your current role or give you the motivation you need to find a new one in nursing. Take care of yourself, TorontoEmerg!

  3. #3 by Marie on Monday 05 March 2012 - 0928

    I can certainly relate to that the burn out thing. I think it’s my place of employment perhaps that has got me down and looking for change.

  4. #4 by Jenn Jilks on Monday 05 March 2012 - 0952

    I know whereof you speak.
    I loved my students, loved designing curriculum, but the new rules and regs severely curtailed my ability to do my job the way I knew I should be.
    My mostly younger colleagues were egocentric, self-serving gals who looked after one another, and made decisions that hurt me.
    I began to know more than my bosses, who pissed me off royally.
    We lost any number of leaders who became bosses and or went into positions of higher authority.
    After 25 years of doing a job, you may only have chronological giftedness, but you make priority decisions, and you’ve read the rules on the back of the game box.
    And the back-biting, or the apathy by colleagues – with little in between.
    Principals only worried about appearing to do a good job, and appeasing parents and superintendents, not giving a white about us lowly front line workers…
    I quit, rather than taking a break. Huge mistake as I still had gifts that would have helped students.
    I’ve seen people in your situation in my ER. Good people who are tired. There are many ads for nurses in many places, you are in high demand and you have many choices.
    Get some career counselling, find a head hunter; you are too valuable to lose to burnout and frustration. (Which I totally understand.)We potential patients love you.
    Take a break /my 2 cents.

  5. #5 by JParadisiRN on Monday 05 March 2012 - 1443

    Sounds like you had a rough week too. I commiserate!

  6. #6 by Brooke on Monday 05 March 2012 - 2117

    Total burn out. Nothing wrong with looking at different opportunities. I’ve been on an emerg break for about a year and a half. I miss emerg and I know I’ll go back, but if I didn’t take a break I was going go postal.

  7. #7 by midwest woman on Tuesday 06 March 2012 - 0724

    As one who tried to keep her big girl panties on and stick it out wiith the resut being I got fired for not being a “happy camper” (yes it can happen in a non union work at will enviroment) take your time off!

  8. #8 by Anonymous on Wednesday 07 March 2012 - 1014

    Whatever you do – and I can imagine you have many options – try to find your bliss and inspiration again. Nothing worse than going into work each day feeling that way. Know also that by writing this blog you are making an important contribution to nursing. Perhaps somewhere down this path of writing and leadership there’s a place you can carve out for yourself. We need you as a leader :)

  9. #9 by NN on Friday 09 March 2012 - 1301

    I have not really liked nursing. My patients told me that I must love what I am doing – when I was working in a hospital. But I absolutely HATED it. I didn’t have the money to educate myself into a new career. I was working full time and couldn’t take the time off ….and since there was a nursing shortage….couldn’t quit and draw Unemployment. Didn’t qualify for anything at all. Employers wouldn’t give you time for, or even encourage ongoing education.

    I am only 5 years away from retirement after working 35 years as a nurse. I can’t wait. Lucky for me I have a job outside a hospital, but I still deal with the public.

    People have NO idea.

    • #10 by torontoemerg on Monday 12 March 2012 - 0952

      Yep. Don’t hate it, but see your point.

  10. #11 by peg rosen on Monday 12 March 2012 - 0803

    I’m not a nurse. I am actually a reporter that covers health for womens service magazines in the States. I’m curious as to how old you are. Don’t mean to be rude. It’s just that I’m turning 49 in about a month as are many of my peers and your sentiments of “bleh” are prevalent among many of us. Do you think it’s our age that has robbed us of the passion we once felt for our chosen fields? Have we simply been doing the same thing for so long that it’s natural to want to strike out and do something entirely new? Or is it that our generation (assuming you’re about my age) has so many more years of life and work ahead of us (in theory) than our parents did, that the thought of continuing to do the same old same old for decades more seems simply intolerable? Eager to hear what you think.

    • #12 by torontoemerg on Monday 12 March 2012 - 0951

      Thanks Peg. I’m a bit younger, but we could have gone to university together. I tend to agree that a lot of it is “been there, done that”. I think too, as I’m pushing 50, that there’s a sense of “is that all there is?” — and having a general sense of dissatisfaction, without a means to jump out of the box. To be honest, in my particular line of work, 95% (or so it seems) of what I do is boring repetitive crap, and maybe the other 5% is the exciting interesting stuff you see on TV. The 5% used to be enough to sustain the crappy 95%, but now, I tell my younger more eager colleagues to do the codes and traumas, usually under the guise of “giving them experience.”

      So yeah, boredom and ennui. Never thought I’d say it, but there is it is.

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