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The Bedside: The Strangling Safety Net

How do you know it’s time to leave your traditional job? I know the answer was an obvious one for me. But it took me a while to recognize it and I feel like it just crept up. If I had known that there were other options available, I may have left sooner.

It’s hard to see the future, though, when all you’ve known is the traditional bedside role. It’s not easy to think outside of the box. Nursing school teaches over and over again that the bedside, leadership, nurse practitioner, or educator roles are the only options available.

I never really thought I could manage a business or make a living outside of a healthcare facility. I saw that other people were doing it, but I just thought they were lucky. That “one in a million” person.

Looking back, I know these people weren’t “one in a million”. They were just willing to take the risk sooner than me. Four years after my first client, I’m financially able to support myself as a writer. A dream I never thought was possible.

In a way, I’m grateful for the job that pushed me over the edge. If it never did, I would never have known that I could fly. I would have been stuck in mediocrity forever.

What are the Warning Signs It Might Be Time to Leave the Bedside?

Once you realize it’s time to leave your traditional job, it’s almost freeing. Your anxiety lifts a bit, and you have more direction. You’re not quite sure where you’re headed, but you know something big is happening.

But can you recognize when it’s time for you to leave that strangling safety net? Let’s go over some common signs.


Burnout is an occupational phenomenon in healthcare workers, not just some workplace myth. Burnout is particularly common in nursing. According to the American Nursing Association, 62% of nurses will experience burnout. Nurses under 25 will

experience even higher rates of fatige.

It’s so common that they teach the warning signs of burnout in nursing school. According to the World Health Organization, signs of burnout include:

  • Exhaustion

  • Negative feelings

  • Inability to work well

  • Feeling unappreciated

  • Dreading going to work

Chronic workplace stress causes burnout. Long hours, the nursing shortage, and rotating shifts can all contribute to burnout. How can you be happy when you’re working 12-hour shifts through the weekend, away from your families? Not to mention the high caseloads nurses have.

It’s no wonder nurses are burning out.

We’re going to cover some of the symptoms of burnout in more detail later on.

Feeling depressed

There’s nothing quite like the deep, dark depressed feeling of having to go into a job you hate every single day. It’s even worse because you can’t just quit. Your job is your lifeline. It pays your mortgage, your insurance, and your car. And at the same time, it’s slowly strangling your mental health.

I know nurses that would cry in the parking lot or on their drive to work. That’s a huge red flag that your traditional role isn’t serving you. But, as nurses, we are told to endure. So, we do.

If you notice you’re easily upset at work, it’s time to move on. If your skin crawls walking through those doors, start looking for other opportunities. Whatever you find can’t be worse than that soul-crushing feeling when you enter your facility at the start of a 12-hour shift.


Sometimes, you may just lose interest in your work. You may see the same patient profile day in and day out. After a while, the “magic” wears off.

When you lose interest in work, that spark disappears. Little things start to

bother you. Your mind drifts. You just don’t have your head in your work anymore.

You start to get antsy and daydream about other positions. What would the OR look like? How would it feel to be a school nurse and have summers off? The grass isn’t always greener, but it sure looks like it when you’ve been in the same job year after year.

Looking for a better work-life balance

The old battle between a nurse’s work life and their home life is well-known. Nurses are known for missing almost every major holiday, birthday, life event, and every other weekend event. And let’s be honest: It sucks.

You shouldn’t have to find someone to switch with you. You’re a nurse, not a manager. That should be an issue for the administration to figure out. You should be able to have a set schedule if you want. And you should be able to take off time when you want.

But, you can’t. Because that’s not how nursing works. Well, you can with nontraditional nursing roles.

You’ve reached the top

I knew my time was done because there was no upward growth for me in my current position. I asked for a promotion and was denied. There was no other position for me to work towards.

It’s hard to feel motivated when you’re told you’re not good enough for a position. Or when you’ve already made it as far as you can go in a facility. Where

do you go from the top?

You’re either complacent about being at the top, or you find a way out. I chose to find a way out. I was always too ambitious, and this time it served me more than I could ever understand at the time.


More than half of all nurses will experience burnout at one point in their careers. Chronic stress causes this occupational hazard. A nurse’s working conditions are the perfect breeding ground for burnout. If you feel depressed, hopeless, or irritable at work, you may be experiencing burnout. Nurses who are looking for a better work-life balance may want to move away from their traditional roles.

Traditional roles aren’t the only jobs out there. In this modern world, you can log on and find clients from all over the world. If you don’t like the salary in your area, you can find clients in a different country and build your salary off of their wages. With the internet, nothing is holding you back but yourself.

Looking for help transitioning from the bedside into a remote role?

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Jul 12, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

True…… the inability to grow is a huge factor In burnout. I proceeded to obtain my NP and then my doctorate in nursing to open up more opportunities and have found that there is a ceiling I can’t get around for multiple reasons. I’ve always craved the mental stimulation and that keeps nursing exciting. I feel stagnant and am going to transition into putting my 32 years of nursing into writing. Thanks!

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