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Dealing with people who shame you for quitting nursing.

Have you ever complained about a certain aspect of nursing or contemplated quitting nursing only to find a bunch of people that would shake their heads at you and make you feel ashamed for feeling the way you do?

Some common complaints and the judgmental responses you may get:

nursing-habits-icon“I don’t get paid enough! I work overtime without pay. I often have to stay in on lunch breaks and after hours because there just isn’t enough staff and the patients struggle at the end but now I’m beat, broke and don’t have much time for my family or friends.”

 

person

“Nurses shouldn’t be looking for money, they should be doing nursing out of the goodness of their hearts and as a service to humanity.”

 

I’m sorry but times are tough and the “goodness of your heart” isn’t going to save you when they try to repossess your house and put your kids on the street. If that’s the case why do doctors get paid so much? Nurses have every right to be well compensated for the work they do. It doesn’t make them evil if they ask to be better paid. They still care about the patient at the end of the day but they have needs too!

nursing-habits-icon“I am stressed out, burnt out, losing my hair, my manager won’t help, we’re understaffed and overworked.”

 

person“You chose nursing, deal with it, you should be doing this out of the goodness of your heart. Stop bringing the nursing profession down.”

 

Now I know there are people who really are very thin skinned and complain because they want to complain, but allot of us don’t want to have anything to complain about! Pay us well, give us enough staff, treat us like we’re valued, assist us when we’re overwhelmed. It isn’t much to ask. I know I personally pushed myself to do everything I possibly could to keep things running smoothly and it did nothing but harm at the end. Too many nurses end up with damaged backs and health issues that cannot be helped or reversed and it’s usually because they aren’t given the resources they need to survive such a difficult and challenging career. I also often found that management would try to cut corners and save money by sidelining the needs of nurses and expecting them to make do under unbearable conditions. Like running a full ward of 32 critically ill patients with only 2 nurses. Again the goodness of your heart isn’t going to heal your broken back at the end of the day. No other career in the world is expected to run on love alone.

nursing-habits-icon“Doctor Who is being nasty again, he didn’t get his coffee because I answered the telephone at the nurses station and now he wants me fired”

 

person“Doctors are very important to us because they make us money, a nurse is replaceable, we don’t care much for the goodness of her heart, goodbye and good luck finding a new job.”

 

Nurses are constantly made to feel undervalued and doctors can be such bullies about it. How can anyone be happy in a job that doesn’t let them feel valued or wanted? There has to be a sense of accomplishment and a sense of being valued.

Here’s an interesting talk about how people really want to feel valued in their profession not just do the job and get paid for it.

So the next time someone makes you feel like you’re the scum of the earth for raising complaint about your job, tell them you appreciate their input, (it is important to hear them out, they may actually have a point at times), then evaluate whether you’re being unreasonable in your complaint, more often than not, you’ll find you had a good reason to feel the way you feel and you should do something about it. Nothing improves by laying low and staying silent!

  • Sarah

    I started out as an 18 year old bright eyed girl who wanted to help the sick. I should have known that the medical field was not for me. I was always seen as “the natural who should be in administration.” I got sick of school. I did my CNA certification and hated working in a long term facility. I gained rank as an LPN. I considered finishing my schooling to be an RN. I ended up getting bitten in my calf, screamed at by patient’s family members, dealt with back stabbing coworkers, burnt out, and just hated nursing. I decided to climb down the ranks and be a home health nurse. Unless you have an RN degree nobody took you seriously in the field. An RN told me that she was jealous of me because I was young enough to step down and find another job. (I am not confident that I really can with this bad economy, new house, and no self confidence at the age of 28). I was a home health aide (pay cut) and enjoyed it for a few years. Now I just want to get out. I am doing nursing without the pay and I was also diagnosed with PCOS earlier this year. I believe that I am not getting any better because of the stress. I am tired of not being respected because I am not the RN. I have had some great clients and have received nice thank you notes and small gifts from families after clients passed away. I am realizing that the nice families that don’t think that you should be the doctor, pharmacist, maid, and punching bag are rare. RNs, LPNs, CNAs, and HHA’s are all underpaid and not appreciated. I am thinking about writing my resignation letter tonight and praying to God for guidance for a new career. I am tired of feeling undervalued. It was nice running into your blog. I am tired of people telling me that I am ‘going to regret leaving’.

  • I totally agree with everything in this post. People sometimes put nursing on a pedestal (it does have its noble qualities), but not only that, push that onto others. They take a high-brow attitude toward anyone who voices discontent and makes the nursing profession, or even the job itself, sound less than rosy.

    The truth is nursing is not for everyone, nor should it be.

  • I remember how great it felt when I finally became a nurse – I felt great pride in having accomplished such a difficult thing. And I also enjoyed being part of the “most respected profession.” (Before that I was just a waitress.) I think that’s one of the things that make it difficult to quit: the pride and the respectability. That and starting over.

  • I’m so glad I found your blog. I’ve been struggling with the fact that I don’t want to do nursing for the past 2 years, although, those 2 years have been just how long I have been a nurse. However, I feel there is such a stigma with changing careers. I can only imagine how my grandmothers will react. They have such pride in telling everyone and anyone that their granddaughter is a nurse. This seems to be the only career with such a stigma. I don’t believe unless someone has actually been a nurse, they have no idea what nurses do. I think most people see nurse as angels who go around passing medication with smiles on their face and that’s it. They don’t know the extend of the knowledge we must have, how we are the last link to the patient and no matter if the doctor, pharmacist, etc. has made a mistake, we virtually are to blame. People don’t realize it’s a good day if I get to use the bathroom, and an even better day if I get a full lunch break. Unlike some, I love bedside care, I love caring for people. However the anxiety and stress has already taken a toll. Waking up with nightmares and fears of a mistake are constant. I also love health, but not at the expense of my own. Since becoming a nurse my health has suffered, from losing extreme weight due to not being able to eat throughout by shift or gaining weight after bingeing after a long stressful day. Again thank for your site, it’s good not to feel alone.

    • Arkadia

      Hi Brittany

      Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story. You are absolutely not alone and completely understood. I had the same internal war with quitting. There’s a wonderful sense of pride emanating from the family of a nurse. My mom was in fact the one that encouraged me to give nursing a go and she even paid for my first year in nursing school. So you can imagine how she felt when I finally decided to quit. For a long time, I kept going because I didn’t want to let her down and I was also afraid for myself. What would I do otherwise? Where will my next paycheck come from? My mom loved that I had a stable income and health insurance. She didn’t want me to trade that for an “internet job” – in her mind that didn’t seem very stable.

      A business of your own isn’t a guaranteed pay check but on the flip side with a little effort on your part and dedication, you can make as much or as little money as you want with an online venture. The biggest challenge by far is just showing up and not squandering your time. With discipline though, it has really paid off well! I can now take vacations when I feel like it. Work from anywhere in the world. The limit is only reached in my own willingness to show up for work! I now work when I want, sleep and eat when I need to (I also had to binge eat or starve myself through my shifts) and get in exercise and family time and life has improved ten-fold – hey, I get bathroom breaks when I need them!! Woohoo! 🙂

      Oh my word that previous paragraph sounds like a pitch for a get-rich-quick scheme! haha. It’s not magic, there have been some challenges and as I continue blogging, I will write more in detail about my online businesses and how things are panning out for me as an ex-nurse. Trust me though, it’s a large step up from nursing!

      The great part is a couple years down the line, my mom has accepted my new career and is happy to see me in good health! Family members may have certain expectations of you and they may be disappointed at first but at the end, I’m very sure your happiness and well-being is of more importance to them and it’s an adjustment they’d happily make when they actually see how much your health improves!

      So don’t be afraid to follow your heart. Like you said only a nurse can understand what you’re going through so take it from a nurse…it’s not the end of the world when you quit nursing, it’s the beginning. It’s really worth having control over your own health and emotional well-being! Set yourself free!

      P.S. Now that you’ve found us, I do hope you stay! NursingHabits is undergoing some transformations and evolving into a more full fledged support group for nurses who are in the same place that you are and who need a little advice, inspiration, encouragement, support and assistance. So check back with us again soon!

    • SquishSquash

      Trek me about it. I love caring for patients but after ending up with chronic cystitis from age 30 from holding on when I couldn’t get to the bathroom, and having chronic anxiety about making a mistake, that’s it I’m leaving.
      I don’t care anymore what others think but what to do instead? I’m getting ready to take a pay cut, trying to pay off debts, anything to get me out. Good luck getting out too, your grandmothers will want you to be happy!

  • Trish Descafano

    I am a nurse and I have felt immense pleasure caring for patients. I have felt immense anger about how the upper management expect nurses to work their entire life being just a nurse first . No you are not a human being with a life. You are a work horse that is not regarded as a valued team member or a person with a life besides nursing. Work, work, evaluation after evaluation. Most of these evals state what you are not doing right or good enough. My last eval went like this: You need to do this better and that better. I asked is there one thing that I have done right? Answer was: Well I am too busy dealing with these issues and I don’t have time to recognize all the good you have brought to this institution. Well shoot! My patients and family members have said many good things about me and my care. My DON stated, ” I’ll write that in later after this eval is over with. I refused to sign it until she wrote something positive that I had accomplished there. What happened to delivering good news with the bad news? I have felt less than human as a nurse and I really have begun to DISLIKE being a nurse because of the higher ups that don’t even work a full 8-10-12-16-18-20 hour shift and REALLY DON’T know what it is like to RUN around in our shoes on a daily basis. Undercover boss would be perfect in this department of the medical field. These people that make changes for us nurses have NO IDEA what it is like to deal with all the CRAP they enforce. I have had it and I want out. I love caring for sick people, I dislike working for the people who run these establishments. They have no idea what its like to work as a nurse.. And if they do know what its like its because they were once upon a time a floor nurse. Now they have forgotten or don’t care anymore because they don’t have to live that stressful life anymore. I am over it. How sad it that? VERY…

    • Arkadia

      Hi Trish,

      Your story is sadly a very familiar one and I’m pretty much across the world from you. There isn’t much respect for nurses within the work environment at all. It’s hard enough dealing with fussy patients but you can to a certain degree, even tolerate bad patients because you’re a professional and as a nurse, you know how to deal with people. It’s absolutely uncalled for however when nurses are disrespected and undervalued by co-workers or “higher ups”…if they did their job well and remembered that they are actually there to take care of the staff, then work can be pleasant EVEN with all the challenges a nurse faces in his/her everyday duties.

      I had a matron that would only be nice to me when she needed a favor from me – otherwise, she’d snub me or give me negative feedback in those evaluations they spent so much time doing.

      I even remember early on in my career when I just started out, one of my supervisors gave me a bad evaluation because “it’s your first month working as a nurse, I can’t give you a good report because it will sound fake.” — right! If I pulled off the job well (and I know I did) – then why should I get a bad report because I’m a new nurse??

      It riles me up!

      The saddest thing of all is that there is rarely anything you can do about unfair treatment. You can take it up higher and put forward a complaint but you will end up being negatively targeted by the offending party. So often what happens is that nurses stop caring. They don’t care to go the extra mile because they only get criticism anyway. They lose passion for the job. They don’t want to be at work. That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t believe that it was happening to me. It’s not easy to live like that – where most of the hours in your day feels like torture.

      That’s the reason I had to quit. It just doesn’t feel like life is worth that kind of pain and suffering when there are alternative careers available that will fulfill my personal dreams and hey, I get to spend more time with my family who always have nice things to say to me and my back feels great!! 🙂

      Are you considering moving on to something else? You can even stay within the realm of nursing but a different aspect of it. What do you think is a good fit for you? We have nurses that are becoming entrepreneurs all the time and they are really doing amazing things for themselves. Take the control back in your hands!

  • Kim

    Wow am glad to find this blog!

  • Kim

    I’ve been a nurse for 10 years and am ready for a change. Most people can’t understand why anyone would every want “quit” nursing. I like to tell people,”Just because I’m good at it doesn’t mean I should keep doing it!” Now to find a passion and make a NEW career!

    • RNNY

      Now that the recession is over, do it! Many people are in nursing because of job security ( nobody wants to do it). I have been a nurse 37 years and am burnt out. Nine years until retirement. Hospital conditions make me very sad. Only care about money. Do not care about nurses, doctors, or patients either. Just had a hospital board member as a patient in the ED who had to share a small space with another patient. I had at least 12 other patients so I could not help him as much as I would have liked. Even he was treated badly! I have given up on our health care system!

      • Mambo Jambo

        I agree! I’ve been as a nurse for 15 years and I am feeling very burnt out. In this modern world, all they care about is the money they make. They do not care of those like us nurses who cared for the patients, sacrificed our time and give ourselves in this profession. If they can, they will pay us peanuts but expect us to work twice or thrice as hard. So yep, I am now looking for another job… a non-nursing job. I’m done with nursing world.

        • SquishSquash

          Me too I’ve already decided to leave nursing. I’m just planning my way out. I feel sad for my patients as I know I have really helped them but at what cost?? When the cost is your own health/sanity in afraid that’s too much. Good luck with finding a new career. Arkadia thank you for this blog it’s really supporting me to do what I need to do! ! Let’s get out of here! <3 <3

  • Vanessa

    I have been an LPN for 10 years. I took 3 of those years off to care for our children while my husband worked in the oilfield out of town. I went back to work earlier this year…..lots of kicking and screaming on my part bc I HATE nursing!! I LOVED nursing school. I HATE working as a nurse. I HATE passing pills! I want to do the cool shit I got to do in school! The wounds! The hands on. Spending more than 2 minutes or less with my patients. I’m the worst when people tell me they are going to nursing school. I tear their hopes and dreams apart. I am soon to be 35, mother to 4 and wife to a now unemployed oilfield worker and go to work 12 hrs a day 4-5 days a week bc we work short all the time. Get calls and texts all the time to pick up any of my “time off”. I’m just burned out!! I’ve been looking for something else for a while but just not sure what I want to do.

  • SquishSquash

    Arkadia thank you do much for this blog! I work in London and can totally relate! Its the same! I’ve been a nurse 13 years and have decided I’m leaving….. just looking for a way out. I’m in mental health and i don’t have the energy to care any more. For those of you that dread going to work and have no energy on days off , find a way out. Life is too short, we must care for ourselves first! It’s not right to neglect yourself!! Coz that’s what we are doing when we don’t eat/ get to the loo/ stay late unpaid.

    I now believe we have a responsibility to ourselves first and foremost in this life, then to those nearest and dearest to you. If nurses left in droves the UK nhs would buckle and the system would NEED to be totally reevaluated. But if we just stay and carry on…. We may as well say “I can do this, I can cope”. I’m sorry to the patients who will suffer but it’s got to the point where it’s impossible to do the caring work.

    This may not be true for everyone but after having my own therapy I realised that many of us went into nursing as we were NOT cared for in out young lives / childhood. We care for others as a strange way of caring for ourselves by-proxy. Giving the care that we never had. Maybe it’s time for us to each heal ourselves rather than killing ourselves in giving and giving into a bottomless pit of need that will never be satisfied. It sounds harsh but it’s the truth!

    Thanks again fir this great blog 🙂

  • My friends and family are the ones shaming me for quitting. They act as if I just threw my life away. None of them are nurses, and they can’t seem to grasp the grief associated with such a physically and emotionally grueling job. I stuck it out for a long time. I deserve some peace. My vision is too splotchy to safely read medication records now anyway….but they don’t understand that either.

    After 24 years of watching the profession go down the commode, I had to flee. When I started out, I was young and able to handle the near-impossible workloads. Now the loads are completely unreasonable, and I’m too old to deal with that. I’ve been pretty passive my entire life, but I’ve reached my threshold for dealing with the demeaning attitudes of supervisors and the narcissism of so many coworkers. Even if I wanted to stay in the field, the damage it has done to my health wouldn’t allow it. I’m now finishing a “bitch and moan” book (though not without humor) about ditching nursing for good. I wish everyone well with their own choices, and I hope nurses everywhere will someday ban together, scream for changes, and steer things in the right direction.

  • HappyWife

    Mostly all I get is “why do you complain”? You make a lot of money! Like money is supposed to make it easier. Everyone only cares about money. My first husband left me when I hadn’t worked for a Couple of months due to burnout. I didn’t have any money so he left after 20 years of marriage. Everyone wants me to just “keep the money flowing”. It’s doesn’t matter how I feel.

  • Anonymous

    I am so glad that I found your blog.

    I haven’t been a nurse very long at all. Maybe a year and a half. I took a medical surgical staff position straight out of college (I have a BSN). I was in four months in when I leaned into the supplies room to ask a another nurse for her help. I was new, after all, and I was slammed with 6 very, very sick patients. I literally just needed someone to help me turn a patient because I already had back issues that I acquired during nursing school. I also have arthritis, even though I was only 24 at the time.

    What happened? I was blessed out in the middle of the supply room by an older nurse, while 4-5 other nurses stood there and watched. Nobody said anything.

    I was naturally upset. I told my shift supervisor what happened. She shrugged it off and started to list off all of the things I had done wrong during the past 2 shifts. She ignored the fact that I was crying at that point. She then left the older nurse who had verbally assaulted me in charge when she left for her lunch shift (something I had yet to experience). When I talked to my nurse manager about it, she assured me that she would tend to the problems but insisted that I visit the employee sponsored therapist. I could tell from her manner that she thought that it was all my fault. I went home, typed up a resignation letter and emailed it to HR.

    I got into nursing because I truly wanted to help people. I used to be an artist, but I started to feel like I wasn’t doing enough to make a difference in the world. That carried me through nursing school. Now I know the truth…many, many nurses are in it for selfish reasons. They’re not interested in helping people anymore. Many are so concerned about keeping their jobs or what it means for them when a new BSN walks on the floor that they will do just about anything to eliminate (what they perceive to be) the competition. How is anyone suppose to stay in nursing when nurses don’t even treat each other right?

    Now I’m dealing with arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, low back pain, worsening scoliosis, PCOS, oh and high BP and HR. I’m on Cardizem for my heart issues…I’m 25. I didn’t have any of those issues before my 2 years of student clinicals and 4 months on the job as a new grad.

    I wish I had stayed in art. I’m thinking about going back to school for art therapy or studio art.