So this is a question that comes up from time to time in conversation – people ask me if I regret quitting nursing. I even find myself asking myself that. The short answer is no. There are however things I do miss about it – I definitely DO NOT miss the backache, headaches and stress. I feel better paid for the work I do now as an online entrepreneur and I do not want to go back to a position or career in which I’m literally breaking my back and getting mistreated by my employers. The stress is absolutely not worth it.
I do miss meeting people from different walks of life. I do miss caring for babies – maternity was the field in nursing that I loved most – it was the least depressing and most exciting field. I miss the laughs I used to get from the silly things patients do and say. I really miss some of my nurse buddies and having those inside jokes that nurses share with each other. In a way, if I’m honest, I miss the pride that comes with being a nurse. There’s soul-food in being in a position to truly care for people but when you burn out, the soul-food does not help you get out of bed in the morning. I mourned every patient I lost until I couldn’t mourn anymore. I became numb inside. There were just too many people dying around me. It scared the hell out of me the first time I felt nothing when a patient died. I did not want to become so apathetic about something so very important. This is a normal condition in the medical field though. This is how some medical staff seem able to eat their lunch in a mortuary. They become immune to the things going on around them. I was not okay with being immune to it. I wanted to care about every person that was born and every person that died in front of me. When I reached a point when the maternity ward felt more like a baby factory than a magical moment in a human life, I really knew I needed to get the hell out. The burn out really drives the numbness! Is it fair to the patient if the nurse can’t feel connected to them anymore? When you look at a human being and all you can see in place of their face is a ton of paperwork, you’re not nursing anymore. You need a long vacation and if that does not help, you need a change in your career!
Despite all of the immunity issues I faced, I believe if nursing treated the nurse better, then I wouldn’t even own this blog. I’d be on my rounds, answering bells, dispensing meds and happily getting puked on. Nurses NEED support. We need to feel cared for in order to hand out so much care to so many people on a daily basis. The patients consume your energy but there’s no renewable source of energy provided to the nurse. The employer needs to provide some fairly basic facilities to keep the nurse functioning well. Provide emotional support in the way of counselling. Provide free health care checkups for every nurse. Provide facilities in the hospital that will help ease the nurse (we motivated for a gym and pool in the hospital for staff but it fell on deaf ears). Pay nurses well. Listen to them once in a while and try to cater for their needs when possible. Make sure the wards are well staffed and well equipped to handle the load. Don’t undervalue the nurse because the doctor is your favorite child! I don’t think that’s a lot to ask for!
So is life better for me now? Considerably! I can work when I want, play when I want. I have freedom. Something that nursing could not give me. In fact nursing made me feel trapped and imprisoned. Destined to following orders for the rest of my life. Orders that I had to follow whether I liked it or not. Some people don’t mind that. I did. It is okay to accept that feeling! It doesn’t make you a lesser person if you don’t simply adore everything about your job. It’s especially difficult in nursing – people expect you to LOVE all of it because it’s the “noble profession”. It’s a career that is considered holy because you are serving humanity. “You are doing God’s work.” they say. They don’t say it in some nefarious manner to try to guilt you into loving your job – they actually believe nursing is that spiritual. It is. I grew a lot from it but it’s okay to leave it behind when you’ve had enough. I actually felt like I reached a point where there was nothing more for me to take in on a spiritual level – the burnout level was excessive and I was physically ill from it and emotionally tormented. I know that hearing about how noble and spiritual this career is will give you a huge complex. You wonder if you’re suffering with a moral deficit. You’re not! In order to serve others, you must first serve yourself. It may sound selfish but how on earth do you expect to heal other people if you do not know how to heal yourself? I find that I still serve others and in particular I serve nurses with my online business. If it even really matters to you, you will find other ways to serve others. It’s all about caring about what you do. Approach everything you care about, as if you really really mean it and you will find yourself helping others in ANY field you enter into.