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An Injection of Guilt Serum With That Nursing License?

June 18th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

When I hear statistics that describe the nursing shortages where I live and how nurses have to work so hard because of these shortages, I feel guilty. I no longer actively work as a registered nurse. I work as a writer for the most part, but the tug of nursing pulls awfully hard sometimes.

It’s not like I’ve not worked my share as an RN. After taking some time away from nursing, I went back yet again – the last time working in a long-term care facility as a resource and infection control nurse. Before that, I used to work the odd day here and there for an agency; my favorite work was doing the wellness clinics that some employers hold. It’s nice to work with people who are happy to see you. The best part is you get to do some hands-on teaching sometimes. Earlier in my career, I worked in many areas, from active med/surg to rehab to school teaching, even palliative care. I even have worked in occupational health and taught nursing aides and orderlies how to do their clinical work.

Many nurses leave active nursing for a variety of reasons. And there are so many areas where nurses can work. Some leave to go work in private industry, others because they’ve decided to stay home with their families. We have the nurses who burn out and those who feel that they have outgrown nursing. They leave to move up the chain in the health field. And then there are those who just don’t want to do nursing any more. They’re not burned out, but they just don’t want to do it. That’s probably what category I’d fall into. I left nursing to follow my passion of writing. I’ve always loved to write and it was something that stayed dormant but would rise up every once in a while.

So what’s with the guilt? So many nurses I know feel guilty when they refuse extra shifts or can’t stay for overtime. They even feel guilty calling in sick. They know that if management can’t find a replacement, their coworkers are left with the extra load.

Do they somehow hypnotize nursing students and leave us with a guilt complex of some sort?

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Posted in Work-Life Balance

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