I feel burned out after working 12-hour shifts for only six months. How can I pursue nursing informatics while having such a busy schedule?

By | 2022-02-15T17:47:16-05:00 January 6th, 2012|0 Comments

Question:

Dear Donna,

I graduated with my ADN about 13 months ago. Like many other new grads today, it took a while for me to find my first nursing job, which ended up being in correctional nursing. I recently moved and have been working in an LTAC/rehab facility for about six months.

I’ll spare you a diatribe of the problems that exist in this facility and get right to the point. I work three 12-hour shifts per week (in addition to days that I pick up because of short staffing), and on my days off, I can’t seem to unwind and leave work at work. As the time draws nearer for me to return to work, I find myself with nausea and other GI issues, headaches and a very short temper. I frequently cry because of work stress. We are extremely short-staffed to the point that even seasoned nurses (20-plus years experience) are talking about how unsafe it is for the patients and are now openly saying they’re looking for new jobs. I have never stopped applying at other facilities but have yet to even get an interview.

I feel like I am already burned out. It feels insane saying this after only six months on the floor, but that’s how I feel. I would love to pursue nursing informatics and have reluctantly accepted the fact that, without an MSN, I’m not likely to break into the field. But I have no way of paying to go back to school right now. Where can I get information about funding for school and which programs are reputable?

In addition, is it truly realistic to attend college full time while working full time as a nurse, raising two children and putting my spouse through college — not to mention we’re trying to buy a house?

My stress level has almost hit its limit, and if I didn’t need the income I probably would have left nursing already. But I currently have no other options.

I have your book “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional.” I guess it is time to break it out again.

Nikki

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Nikki,

Nursing is a high-stress occupation, especially when you work in direct patient care settings. Even under the best circumstances, it is imperative for nurses to have a self-care routine in place. Read “Knowing When It’s Time to Move On” at Nurse.com/Cardillo/MoveOn.

Working 12-hour shifts, although the norm in many healthcare settings, is very taxing to the mind, body and spirit. It is not healthy (there is research to back this up), even if it is popular with many nurses. Three 12-hour shifts is a full work week, so picking up extra days is going way over the limit of what your body and mind should be doing, especially as a new nurse. You have to protect yourself and learn to say “No.” It’s one thing to be a team player; it’s another to push yourself beyond your own limits and get sick and burned out.

An additional major stress factor is working in a facility that is dangerously understaffed. Clearly you need to make a change for this and many other reasons. You don’t need to leave nursing to be happy, healthy and make a good living.

I don’t know where you got the idea that you need an MSN to get into nursing informatics, because you don’t. Many nurses stay in a self-imposed prison because they wrongly assume they won’t get another job, aren’t qualified for other things and so on. You have more options than you know, but just sending out resumes to facilities isn’t going to get you very far. That’s the least effective way to find and get a job.

It is definitely time for you to revisit my book “Your First Year as a Nurse,” as I address many of these issues in the book. You also should attend my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar, if you can, to explore your options fully, get the scoop on what is really required for various nontraditional specialties and learn more effective ways to market yourself. You also should be getting out to career fairs to explore options and hone your networking and self-marketing skills and “test the waters.” See what’s coming up at http://www.nurse.com/CEseminars/ and http://www.nurse.com/CareerFairs/.

Going back to school is a great idea, but doing it full time while working and raising a family is way too much to take on. Go to school part time to start (one course at a time for now) and see how it goes. Ease your way in. Read “Go Back to School and Change Your Life” at www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/BacktoSchool and “Master the Scholarship Game” at www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/ScholarshipGame.

My best wishes,
Donna

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