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I’ve only been a nurse for two years, and I feel anxious every time I have to go to work because I don’t think I’m being treated fairly. Should I look for another job?


Dear Donna,

I’ve been in the nursing field for two years in emergency, and although I have learned a lot, I feel anxious and nervous every time I have to go to work. My workplace is short-staffed and stressful. Since I’m the new nurse I always get placed in the less desirable work area with patients who are usually in isolation or ICU. Nurses at my job say this is how all new nurses are treated so they can learn, but I feel burned out after only two years as a nurse. I want to change the type of nursing I do, but I’m not sure if I should just yet. Should I stay and get more skills? Is being anxious and nervous every time you have to go to work normal? Or is this a sign that I need a change? I was thinking of being a school nurse or maybe a nurse in an office setting.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Jennifer,

Working in a fast-paced critical care area that is short-staffed is no picnic for anybody. And contrary to what your co-workers are telling you, new nurses do not automatically get the less desirable work assignments. It sounds like your workplace and coworkers are the problem — not you or the specialty itself.

No, it is not normal nor desirable to feel nervous and anxious every time you go to work. Read “Knowing When It’s Time to Move On” at Whatever is going on, it sounds like you need to explore your options and find a more supportive work environment with adequate staffing and friendly and supportive co-workers. This type of scenario does exist in many, many places. Get out to a Nursing Spectrum and NurseWeek career fair in your area ( and attend facility open house/recruitment events.

You also should attend local chapter meetings of your state nurses association (go to and click on Constituent Member Associations). If you’re not already a member, join and get active. You need to immerse yourself in the community of nursing. You cannot stay isolated in this profession. And if you’re not yet a member, you can attend local chapter meetings as a guest for the time being. Even though you have been out of school for two years, I recommend that you read my book “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” ( It provides strategies, information, and resources — not to mention motivation and inspiration — to build a solid foundation in nursing.

You also will find “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career” ( helpful in deciding where to go from here and how to get there. You need a different perspective than the one you are getting where you are now. Contact your former nursing instructors, talk to former classmates from your nursing class, and talk to nurses in other areas who are happy with the profession and love what they do. They can advise and support you to help you move forward from here.

My best wishes,

By | 2009-07-28T00:00:00-04:00 July 28th, 2009|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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