I’ve had a massively busy day today, a full 12 hour shift, plus there were at least 6 nurses on sick leave. I had a room of 5 medical patients all with gastroenteritis so I was washing my hands raw at every opportunity as I am petrified of catching something.

And yet I am awake at midnight, wide awake for that matter. And completely stressed out.

Now this is nothing new. Nurses the world over are stressed. And burnt out.

The only difference is that ‘burn-out’ only happens to other nurses, not young, dynamic ones like me. However I am beginning to realise that I am wrong on this issue.

A few weeks ago I was so upset, angry and frustrated by the tremendous amount of work and patients and I felt completely unsupported that I was actually having a very vociferous fight with my boss in a rather public place. I did not think it possible to be able to literally jump up and down in anger, but it is. But that’s not all.

When I get upset at work I rarely yell. Actually close to never. So instead of screaming, I get a weird physical reaction such as:

Chest pain
Hives
Diarrhoea
Shortness of breath
Stomach acid
My hair falls out

Last week I had all of these symptoms simultaneously. Such fun. Last Thursday towards the end of my shift I used the bathroom and I almost yelped because my urine burnt so badly because all day I did not even have time for a sip of water.

Maybe I should seek different employment. I know that being a nurse is a tremendous part of my identity. But I do not want stress and illness to become a tremendous part of my identity too. There are many things I can do: teach biology, be a medical representative, work in a private clinic. Or maybe even go abroad as everywhere globally, the 12hr shift has been abolished as well as the 46hr week. And they get paid double the salary that I get in my country. My options do not stop at the public hospital.

And even though there is a part of me which feels like I’m throwing in the towel, I also feel that I’m on the losing end of an uncontrollable battle. There will always be too many patients, there will always be too few nurses. There will always be a lack of co-ordination as there is no communication between doctors and nurses. And worst of all, there is no system that decides what is permissible and what is not, so everything is permissible. As long as all the procedures get done, everything is ok. Well, I’m sorry to say that the end does not always justify the means. I am tired, fed up and powerless. I have no fight left in me.

At the end of the day, the grave realisation that is washing over me is: it’s all so not worth the trouble. Right now, nothing is motivating me.

I LOVE nursing. It is my passion. And usually I take it with the good and the bad. However, at the moment the bad is far outweighing the good. Should I ride this wave and wait out the storm or should I bail?

Should I stay or should I go?

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