So You Hate Being a Nurse: Now What?All the time and money you’ve invested, countless tests, sleepless nights, tears and angst, a national examination to get licensed and for what? You hate what you do. You’re tired of denying it to yourself and others.

Nursing is far more stressful than anyone warned you it would be, more demanding than you ever imagined it could be. A great salary is overshadowed by the tears you cry, wondering how you’re going to get yourself out of the mess you find yourself in. And the sad part: you actually love patients, don’t you? You care about them- it’s why you went into nursing to begin with- to help other people. You didn’t dream you’d need someone to throw you a life preserver because every shift you’re drowning in the weeds, spiraling out of control toward nurse burnout.

Non-nursing friends don’t understand the dilemma you face. You can’t possibly begin to explain to your spouse what you endure during a 12-14-hour shift and why you come home so exhausted. Nurse bullies have no trouble telling you, if that’s how you feel - get out of nursing! If only it were that simple.

Obviously, I’m writing from experience. Have been there, done that. I know how you feel and you’re not alone. All one has to do is Google: I hate nursing, to yield countless articles and forums on the subject. We’ve established you care about patients. The reason you hate nursing is far more serious and convoluted, actually having very little to do with patient care.

Reasons you want to leave are many, but just to name a few:

  1. Nurse to patient ratios are unsafe, unrealistic, nearly impossible to handle.
  2. Unbalanced acuities: unfair, burdensome, and unethical.
  3. Nurse bullies: make difficult work environments even worse.
  4. Doctors: frequently mistreat nursing staff, belittling and berating them.
  5. Excessive charting, including duplicate charting.
  6. No time for actual patient care: you’re too busy with mandatory tasks to complete before your shift ends about the patient you’ve barely spent any time with.
  7. Little to no appreciation from management for a job well done, but plenty of feedback for what needs improvement.
  8. Mandatory meetings on your precious days off.
  9. You ache from head to toe after 12-14 hours on your feet, your body is aging quickly in this profession.
  10. You’re sick of no bathroom breaks, no lunch breaks or eating your lunch in 8 minutes flat.
  11. You’re tired of orienting another new grad who will only quit for all of the reasons listed here.
  12. You’re either floated to random floors to work without the proper training for low census on your own floor or you’re sent home with a short paycheck.
  13. You’re exhausted from being worked to death to make up for the week prior when you were sent home for low census.
  14. You’re tired of crying all the way home from work, wondering how you’re going to get up and come in again in only twelve short hours.


So what options do you have, now that we’ve established a few of the reasons you want to quit?

  1. Leave the nursing profession
  2. Change units
  3. Change specialties
  4. Change facilities


But might I suggest not leaving nursing, but instead, consider a nontraditional role in which to find your professional home? Personally, I tried leaving the profession to go into real estate. I quickly returned to nursing. I changed units, specialties and facilities. I tried float nursing. I tried travel nursing. I liked per diem educator positions in pharmaceuticals well enough to seek out full-time opportunities. There are plenty of nontraditional positions out there for nurses who have a heart for patients, but haven’t found where they belong yet.

Non-traditional nursing jobs (to just name a few):

  1. Nurse Educator in Pharmaceuticals
  2. Public Health Nurse
  3. Nurse Case Manager
  4. Legal Nurse Consultant
  5. Occupational Nurse
  6. Congregational Nurse
  7. Nurse Navigator
  8. Health Coach/Life Coach
  9. Forensic Nurse
  10. Nurse Faculty
  11. Cruise Ship Nurse
  12. Certified Diabetes Nurse
  13. Certified Wound Nurse
  14. Informatics Nurse
  15. Telehealth Nurse
  16. Telephonic Triage Nurse
  17. Nurse for special populations: Indian Reservation, Amish, Mennonite
  18. Nurse Auditor
  19. Medical Transcription Nurse


Be encouraged! You still have many options in the nursing profession. Truth is, you have far more options than you realize! Before you up and leave the profession, contributing to the ever widening shortage in nursing, consider that a nontraditional role might be perfect for you! I found my professional home in nursing and I believe you can too. Nontraditional opportunities are empowering us to move in directions we never dreamed possible as nurses.