I have reached a crossroads at which I don't know whether I can keep being a nurse. I'm depressed. It seems fatally unfair to even consider I might not be ABLE to continue in a profession I have suffered personally and financially to obtain, that I have wanted since I was a kid, and that I'm really good at. And I like it. The patient care part. It feels like my calling. I am happy, largely, when I am taking care of sick people.
But. The profession has not been good to me. I have personality quirks, including anxiety and perfectionism, that make it increasingly difficult for me to tolerate practices that feel unfair, dishonest, and/or punitive. I feel bureaucratically flogged. I feel tyrannized by small mistakes that will become only more frequent as nurses are made to do more in less time and as the reimbursement hysteria worsens.
It's not burnout. I care, deeply. I care not only about my patients, but also about nursing as a profession. I just don't know how to personally cope with these systemic issues that are so deeply affecting my mental health. "Just do your job and go home" is not attractive to me, and it results in an attitude I don't think would work for me anyway because nursing is not something I do solely for a paycheck. I do it to leave patients' lives better than they were before I entered them. I can't do that if I don't care, and working just to punch a time clock involves a whole lot of not caring.
I'm worried about what I would do instead. It's not exactly a fabulous job market out there. I've always been resourceful and able to support myself, and I could probably return to my previous career writing and, mainly, editing medical journals and textbooks. I am an expert at that stuff. I'm probably better at that than I am at nursing. But I changed careers for a reason (largely boredom), and it chafes me to think I spent $30,000 on nursing school, lost a husband, and have destroyed my health for a nursing career only to end up where I started anyway. Not that I would. Having an actual science degree and a ton of certifications and experience in the medical field would doubtless open new opportunities for me. I just don't know what to do. I'm rarely at a total loss, but I am right now.
I generally have a gut feeling about what's best, and the only gut feeling I have right now is nausea over the wrongness of my current situation. I've learned in life you either have to accept or change situations, but the trick is which one I pick. Accepting my current career means a dramatic internal reorganization. Changing it means a dramatic life rearrangement and some serious pavement pounding to drum up work. Freelancing sounds romantic, but in reality it's a difficult lifestyle with its own issues. Perhaps I could have a part-time nursing job for the benefits and trauma fix and edit part-time.
Just don't know. I droop with sadness and frustration.