Sunday, April 27, 2008

is it time for a nursing moratorium?

Dragging myself to a shift has been a struggle for a while now, but I only realised the extent of my malaise when I sat down now to write - going back over my (rather sparse) posts, I discovered it was a way back in October that I first reported my almost decision to quit. That's six months of hating my job.

Attempting to be objective, I can see that it isn't necessarily nursing I hate. It's more a case of my ward environment getting me down.

Horizontal violence still lives - in fact it's kicking along quite strongly in my corner of the world.

When I first started on this ward I thought if I could put my head down, hive off to my patients and put in a good days work I might survive. I was wrong. More than wrong. I was seriously deluding myself. My work environment is slowly killing my passion for nursing and care.

All this became quite clear to me a few nights ago. I was working a late shift with a male nurse from the hospital's nursing pool. He had previously been employed on the ward, but a few months ago left to (among other things) escape the ward culture. As we chatted I found a different man - relaxed, pleasant, altogether transformed. When I pointed out his new found peace he detailed his journey to the edge and back. He too almost quit nursing because of the ward environment. Since leaving he has rediscovered his nursing mojo. Now when he works a shift on my ward he is appalled by the shallowness, nastiness, exclusivity and power games. I am not imagining things.

So where does this leave me? What to do?

Get out. Leave the ward. Find another work environment fast, before my soul is destroyed.

Easier said than done, believe me! In my corner of the world there is one public hospital (where I am employed) with four medical, two surgical, one paediatric and three women's health wards. Throw in a limited number of specialty areas (with often equally nasty nurses) and we're not talking a huge range of choice. Across town there are two private hospitals. I do not find the prospect of working under a bigger pump in an institution attempting to operate profitably the least bit appealing. A minor issue is that I would also lose the tax benefits offered to those who choose to stay in the public sector (to the tune of several thousand dollars annually).

One option is to return to the ward where I was previously employed, but I don't like orthopaedics. The mindless churning through of total knee and hip replacements is almost as soul destroying as bitchy work mates. Nursing pool offers some hope, but it doesn't really offer the stimulation I need - those medical wards are full of patients awaiting nursing home placement. Yes, they still deserve care but I'm a surgical nurse by nature. Endless cycles of bed baths and pressure area rounds don't appeal.

I'm almost stumped. Quitting nursing appears the only option... Unless...

Unless I take up my friend's offer of employment in the ORS. In my grad year I did a few months in theatre. Admittedly it's a big stretch from scrubbing independently for knee arthroscopy after knee arthroscopy to being a functioning, independent member of the team. But maybe that's just the stimulation I need! And I know there is good educational support.

So I might not quit nursing, I might just step sideways. I'll keep you posted.

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