10 Signs It's Time To Leave Your Nursing Job And What To Do Next

6 Min Read Published January 3, 2018
Young woman on laptop at home looking at papers

Being unhappy at one’s job can be overwhelming. It overtakes your life, your thoughts, and your emotions. But there could dozens of reasons why that unhappiness is coming through, and there are a dozen reasons why you should walk away. In nursing, it might be hard to move on from your current job. But in certain circumstances, it just might be the right move.

“Many people are just afraid that they can’t manage without that job,” says Cindy Wagner, career counselor and owner of Omaha Career Coach in Omaha. “But when things get to a certain point, it just might be a signal to find someone that appreciates what you do.”

Signs It's Time to Leave Your Job

1) Lack of Support-Training: It’s tough to keep doing a job when you don’t know what the parameters are.

“When they have promised training and you don’t get it, or there just hasn’t been any training or leadership support, you are in a gray area,” Wagner says. “You feel you are doing the best you can, but you live day in and day out with worry that you aren’t doing the right thing.”

2) More than One Boss: If you are being told to do something from one boss and something different from another one, it becomes quite confusing and frustrating.

“People quit when they really don’t know who to listen to. Most people want to do a good job and do a job that is meaningful, but that is hard when you are being pulled in different directions,” Wagner adds.

3) Ethics Don’t Match with Company: “I’ve had several clients that found themselves in an unethical dilemma. Things were being ordered or decisions were being made that they knew are absolutely wrong, immoral or even illegal” says Diane Overgard, life coach and owner of 45 Degrees Life Coaching in Naperville, Ill. “There is no question then that you don’t want to be a part of that.

Wagner agrees that if your place of employment and the leaders in it have values that don’t align with your values, then you need to reassess where you work. “For instance, if you really value family time but this company has encroached upon it by making you work nights and weekends all the time with no end in sight, then you need to figure out if this is worth it,” she says.

4) Boredom: The yawns, the glazed over look and the lack of zest to do anything can happen to even the best of employees when they are bored. This is happening with the younger generation a lot, Wagner explains.

“Their mind power could do five times the work they are given at their jobs. They want something more meaningful,” she says. “They are done by 2 in the afternoon with their responsibilities and are looking for something to do. That’s not good.”

Overgard reiterates that “It’s human nature to always want to grow and learn. But if you stop getting better, you stop being good.”

5) Lack of Financial Reimbursement: You may love what you do because nursing is your passion. But if your salary increase just doesn’t exist where you work or the fringe benefits are lackluster and you scrape by every month, it might be time to start looking and sending out that resume.

“There just might be another place that you can find that you can get a little bit farther ahead,” Overgard says.

6) Bad Boss: Most people won’t set their boundaries as an employee, says Wagner.

“People put up with bad bosses all the time,” she says. “But you need to set your boundaries. Go in and tell them that this is your limit of what you can do. If they don’t except that, then you need to go and find a better job.”

She has had clients come to her who have supervisors that treat them poorly every day. “I’ve even had people talk about bosses that were abusive,” she states. “I ask them if they would rather take a lesser pay job that they are respected at instead of one where they are not.”

If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, are a nursing student, or are a current nurse who is ready to transition careers - this guide will help guide you to make the best professional decisions.

Get the Nursing Career Change Action Plan!

By clicking download, you agree to receive email newsletters and special offers from Nurse.org. You may unsubscribe at any time by using the unsubscribe link, found at the bottom of every email.

7) Too Many Years Breed Disdain: “Sometimes that paycheck is our worst enemy. When we stay in a job too long because the paycheck is good, it diffuses our energy for producing the best work or giving the thing that is our passion,” Overgard adds.

Especially in nursing, if that compassion to go the extra mile for the patients is gone, or you feel dissatisfied, it’s really hard to have you best self come forward.

8) No Passion: Wagner has many clients talk to her about not wanting to do their job anymore. They cannot describe exactly why they feel this way, but they just aren’t happy. Many of the unhappiest are those ages 40-55.

“They hate their jobs. They don’t know exactly if they are ready to quit it or just ready to plan their next chapter,” she says.

Many of them figure out that they just aren’t doing the job they have any passion for and want to guide themselves into doing something completely different that makes them want to get up in the morning again.

9) Company Expects Doers Not Thinkers: Companies such as Google and Apple thrive on creativity, and they allow so much room for error because mistakes can be valuable, Overgard says.

“If all employers could understand that if they empower their people to take a chance and make a mistake, we would be much better off.” Some companies and bosses aren’t wired to believe in that philosophy. Hence, creative people often leave because one of their top values in life is creativity.

Wagner says that nurses have many choices out there of where they can work and what type of patients they want to help. “You want to make a really careful choice and weigh out what are your needs so you get the right environment that would be conducive to who you are and your values,” she says.

10) The Dread: We spend most of our lives at work. If you often leave your shift in tears or have trouble sleeping because of worry about work - it’s time to take a few steps back and re-evaluate your situation. 

Leaving Nursing & Moving On

The beauty of nursing is that your options are endless. If where you are currently working just isn’t for you, that’s ok. There are plenty of other career paths to explore! Like these unique nursing specialties you’ve probably never heard of. Did you know these industries actually hire nurses and pay them well? Like over $90K per year! 

A career in nursing can be fulfilling, lucrative, and challenging. But when you stand in front of your place of employment every morning dreading to go in, it just might be time to switch things up and start finding somewhere else to care for patients.

If it's time for you to move on from your current position, check out our guide to writing a nursing resignation letter to learn how to resign respectfully and professionally.

Lee Nelson of the Chicago area writes for national and regional magazines, websites, and business journals. Her work has recently appeared in Realtor.org, Nurse.org, Yahoo! Homes, ChicagoStyle Weddings, and a bi-weekly blog in Unigo.com.

Go to the top of page