Healthcare Workers Tell Stories That Made Them Quit

Healthcare workers have some of the most challenging jobs out there. Whether it’s a nurse, doctor, or cleaning staff – your life is in their hands.… Trista - April 15, 2021

Healthcare workers have some of the most challenging jobs out there. Whether it’s a nurse, doctor, or cleaning staff – your life is in their hands. Everyone has difficult days at work, but I’m sure nothing compares to having to tell a family terrible news about a loved one. The cleaning crews even have the difficult task of cleaning surgical suites and the tools used for surgeries. From EMTs to RNs, healthcare workers sometimes want to quit — and do — because of demanding conditions.

However, the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff in the following stories had enough of their positions after certain events occurred. Some of these stories will leave you feeling empathetic towards their reasoning. With the threat of a pandemic spreading worldwide, the stress felt by medical professionals would make any of us want to be as far away from the hospital as possible. Our frontline healthcare workers deserve a comfortable work environment that allows them to effectively care for patients, but that’s not always the case. Don’t believe us? Check out these crazy stories about people’s worst doctor visit! It’s not wonder these healthcare workers want to quit. Keep reading to find out what made certain healthcare workers leave their positions and look for new employment opportunities.


20. Working in a pandemic unit was enough for this nurse.

Spot on. I’m a respiratory therapist working at the virus specific ICU at my facility. Let me tell you, it’s wearing on us. Hard. My sanity is unraveling. We need help. I will be seeking therapy soon. It’s negatively impacting every single area of my life. I often fantasize about getting into an accident on the way to work, so I don’t have to go. Or I am thinking about flushing my entire life down the drain, quitting my job, moving back home. Being broke and hungry with no place to call my own still seems better than going to work every day.

The insult to injury is just what you said – People scoffing at masks, laughing at/disregarding the experts, etc. As an example, just tonight, I had the pleasure of caring for a patient that tested positive for the virus. They were in the ICU, STRUGGLING to breathe, telling me she “knows this whole thing is a hoax to wreck Trump’s presidency”. People still don’t get it, and it’s getting more and more difficult to explain. I’m just… sad, exhausted, and completely overwhelmed every day. Please, everyone, wear your gosh darn masks. They are helping whether you choose to believe it or not. I will wear mine everywhere I go until it’s safe. –Untogether425


19. Problems with hospital administration is enough to make healthcare workers quit.

A lot of my healthcare coworkers quit at the beginning because they have immuno-compromised family members. And then a second wave quit when we weren’t getting the PPE we needed. Over the summer, a crap-ton more people quit because, instead of being on our side through all this, they kept threatening to fire people over minor violations. Over the fall, they started being weirdly nice to us, and now that winter’s coming back around, they’re treating us like trash again. I can’t speak for other people in healthcare, but I’ve noticed that most people I know are quitting specifically because of the way admin is choosing to handle all this. I mean, I sh** you not, my boss (the paramedic) constantly argued with us, claiming that sitting in the back of an ambulance with a confirmed positive for the virus is not exposure.

He claimed that as long as you’re not performing aerosolizing procedures or intubating, you won’t get this virus. That is pure bull crap. Our ambulances are enclosed spaces with terrible circulation, and I’m sitting two feet from the patient’s face. I get things are tough right now, and I’ll do my part, but c’mon do the bare minimum and take some fucking responsibility for what you’re sending us into. Anyway, I’ve seen the difference between hospitals, too, in that the ones that seem to be giving a modicum of crap for their staff can retain their staff to a better degree. Who would’ve thought? – hot-gazpacho-


18. A nurse who is longing for a new career.

I’ve been a nurse for a little over a year and hate it. I’ve hated it since I started, and people told me it was normal. They said it would get better by the year mark, but it honestly got worse. I am severely depressed because of this job. Yes, I spend my days off thinking about the dread of the next shift. I am a more introverted person and am very book smart. Besides, I am highly anxious, which is terrible for working in a hospital where people try to die on me all the freaking time. The anxiety I feel daily is so overwhelming.

Also, I am 23, so I am young enough to switch and not have it affect my life too much, if that makes sense. My entire happiness and hope for life are gone, which is why I want to switch careers. 1/3 of new nurses switch careers within the first five years, and I think I’m gonna be one of them. I just know I will be much happier with a new job away from this hospital. What would you do in my situation? Stay at a job you hate because of the money and benefits or find something you love? I’m hoping for the latter. Please help me! – sopetup


17. Money talks, so healthcare worker walks.

Do you want to know what else is awful? Hospitals aren’t hiring due to losses during the beginning of the pandemic and also currently during the pandemic. They aren’t making as much money, so they aren’t hiring more doctors. They are hiring more mid-levels because they are cheaper. The job market is awful right now- exactly the opposite of what you would think. It’s difficult to believe this is reality. I just want to find a job in my new area that allows me to care for patients and something that won’t result in a pay cut. I want to at least make what I’m making now.

Source: I’m a frustrated ER doctor looking to relocate in the summer, with exactly zero openings in my field (emergency medicine) in the area I’m moving to. So not only am I working exhausting shifts during a pandemic, there are no jobs, and when jobs do start opening back up, I’m sure there will be a pay cut. I have no idea how I’m going to pay off my loans. I’m just so tired and have no idea how things are going to pan out with my relocation. I’d love to say everything will be fine, but I’m just not so sure. – mpossiblegirl13


16. Healthcare workers quit after being exposed to infection constantly.

Healthcare workers are overworked and constantly exposing themselves and their families to a higher risk of infection. They are treated as pariahs and disease spreaders or with anger by people who blame them for lockdowns and the holidays being “ruined.” I don’t blame any healthcare worker who decides to quit with that much pressure put on their shoulders. Sadly, this is the state it has turned into. Each healthcare worker deserves respect and praise for their commitment to keeping people safe and healthy. It’s dangerous nowadays to be in any type of setting where you’re surrounded by unhealthy individuals.

Healthcare workers are starting to crack under the strain of seeing patients die alone, sometimes daily. I’ve worked with nurses who broke down in tears in the middle of meetings when trying to give a clinical account of their unit. Six months ago, they were hailed as heroes, now they feel like outcasts or that their jobs are now a political statement. It’s no wonder they are quitting. There’s nothing political about saving lives. Nurses and Doctors deserve the ability to help patients and stay healthy themselves while returning home daily to spend time with their families. – SgtBrowncoat


15. Mental health concerns are enough for enough doctors to quit.

Interesting you say this. My wife is a family physician in a small town, and it’s insane. Normally she likes to see 25 patients in a day. Over the last couple of months, she has been taking a lot of abuse from patients and demanding appointments, and she is seeing 30-40 patients and working from 7 am to midnight every single day. People call and demand an appointment or a “quick phone appointment.” They don’t realize a 15-minute phone appointment adds another 15-20 minutes of charting/documents/referrals in the evening for her. She covers hospitals, emergencies, and she does see patients not come in due to the pandemic.

They decide to wait, then come in when they’re in critical condition. The emergency department is still very busy. If I had to guess why people are quitting, 90% of it is mental health, and it’s extremely draining. I wouldn’t hold it against my wife if she decided to quit after a grueling day of death and despair. My wife knows some doctors who are staying away from their families completely to refrain from exposing them to the virus. I’m glad she’s provided with all of the safety procedures and PPE necessary to still come home every day. I feel like this helps to keep her stable during these trying times. – scootbert


14. Being overworked and stressed out forces this pharmacist to quit.

I’m a pharmacist. I just quit my job. In just two months, I’ve had to vaccinate over 1800 people, triple what we as a pharmacy did all of the last flu season. Mainly because doctors in the area don’t want to see as many patients right now, it’s an average of one shot every 10 minutes while also trying to fill 500 scripts a day, all while being the only pharmacist on duty. Getting vaccinated is crucial, but the support just simply isn’t there for pharmacists. It’s grueling work that just isn’t appreciated or even understood by the people in my area.

The absolute worst thing I came across was customers who refused to wear masks. It was company policy that I wasn’t even allowed to ask them to wear one. We all had to sign a statement that we would not engage. The Home Depot in town can enforce a mandate and refuse store access, but me being less than arm’s length to vaccinate, and I couldn’t say a darn thing. It’s too bad it took me contracting COVID to finally wise up and realize it’s not worth it. My health, safety, and sanity are far more important than a job. – EugenesAdminFriend


13. A surgeon fears of getting his family sick.

My cousin quit. He’s got two little ones and aging parents. He’s a surgeon in his 40’s. After a mix of his hospital not giving a shit, our state not enforcing safety practices(PNW), and months of testing, hotels, and Skype calls to his family. He gave his notice last month. His savings and his wife’s job will be enough for them while he decides what to do next. He’s been suffering from a pretty strong feeling of guilt but said he couldn’t justify risking his kids growing up without a dad or, worse, giving his family the deadly virus.

This man’s cousin quit his job due to fear of getting his family sick. It’s logical to want to keep your family safe and healthy. I’m sure no one blames this surgeon for quitting his job and putting his family first. We’re living in a dangerous world right now, and it’s important to put things into perspective and keep a level head during these trying times. If he chose to stay, there was always a chance of contracting the virus and spreading it to his family, and he couldn’t bear the thought of something like that happening. I’m sure he will find a position where he’s able to be safe. –losteye_enthusiast


12. ICU nurse quits because of pandemic.

I’m an ICU nurse. You’ve probably heard my exact specialty referred to as ‘travel nurses.’ I prefer to refer to myself as an ICU contract nurse because I’m a professional at this, and I’ve been contracting since 2016. I sign (pre-pandemic) 13-week contracts to rapidly staffing needs. I get the minimal orientation (1-2 shifts), and I am expected to hit the unit running with minimal need for additional help. I’ve worked at 17 hospitals now. Contract nurses are what’s keeping ICUs afloat. I responded at the apex of daily deaths in NJ. We were doing futile compressions on 2-3 patients per shift that ultimately died that night. I stayed there for 12 weeks.

So, starting last week, I’ve decided to take some time off. I’m not the only one. Your ICU nurses that have been chasing this are tired. I tried to the point I declined to make 100k in 3 months. Keep that in mind as you decide not to wear a mask. You’ll be taken care of by nurses less experienced with the pandemic as this continues spreading out to rural hospitals. You’ll get nurses less experienced with vents, pandemic-related ARDS, MODS, recognition of pneumothorax, DIC, and the many ways this stuff tries to kill you. Please continue wearing masks to keep everyone around you safe. – ebdevildog85


11. PPE woes are enough to drive this nurse away.

Hi there! I’m an ICU nurse. I was eligible to retire after working for 30 years. I decided to retire early when infection control gave us classes on how to reuse a disposable N95 mask, going against everything I have learned throughout my entire career: Ebola, swine flu, shingles, tuberculosis. Take off the mask without touching it, as this is when the risk of touching your face is highest. I handed in my retirement paperwork that day. Management is still not providing adequate PPE, almost a year into this thing. OSHA is supposed to be issuing fines as providing PPE is an OSHA requirement.

Anyway, after three months as a nurse treating the novel virus, I reached the 30-year mark and have left. I couldn’t bear watching all of this unravel. Reusing masks is not okay, and I believe many people in the medical field have caught COVID-19 due to reusing masks. You’d think OSHA would be on top of this thing, but it seems as though things are slipping through the cracks due to the pandemic. I feel terrible for the nurses out there going through their workdays and having to reuse masks, but I’m glad I retired before having to go against everything I learned in nursing school. – benitohug


10. A sad story from an ER scribe.

Hi, I would like to share my story of the virus from an ER scribe perspective. January: for the most part, no one was taking it seriously. We were following orders from the CDC. No one knew how contagious this virus is and was. February: cases of the virus in the ER were few. However, regardless of what Trump was saying, you knew the hospital was expecting something big to come in the next couple of months. No one knew how bad it was going to get at the end of March. March: the hospital saw an incredibly sharp increase of patients pour into the Emergency Department. A fridge truck was moved to the back because they couldn’t keep up with the death rate.

There was a point in March where the hospital didn’t have enough PPE for the scribes. I had to take the initiative. So, I ran to Home Depot and Lowe’s in search of any goggles and n95 masks to protect the staff, my team of scribes, and attendings. I sent out emails to Harbor Freight (tool warehouse) requesting assistance. Many nurses and doctors got sick and were in bad shape for weeks. Every 5 minutes, the respiratory stat was overhead in the loudspeaker. The ED floor was full. The admission floor was full. At the beginning of April, I caught the virus. Luckily I was never hospitalized, but my symptoms and recovery lasted into May. I have some remnants of PTSD, and it took me some time to understand what happened. – betamonster7


9. A paramedic with an opinion won’t stay employed very long.

I am a paramedic, and my wife is a nurse. I told her that she could feel free to quit her job. The hospitals are a joke at taking care of their healthcare workers. It is only because of a sense of duty and commitment to others among their staff that they even freaking run. Most of these hospitals are flush with cash. PAY your workers! Give them time off! Hire more staff! Support their mental health! Cut CEO compensation. Make their finances transparent. These healthcare workers risk their lives daily and deserve compensation for the stress and traumatic events seen every day.

This paramedic realizes the importance of protecting hospital staff. He wants his wife to be safe at work and realized the potential of her safety being compromised. BY telling her she could quit her job, he was ensuring her safety and sanity during the pandemic. I’m sure she appreciated his offer regardless of her final decision on the matter. I, for one, wouldn’t blame any hospital staff for quitting during such a trying time. Personal Protective Equipment is difficult to come by, and hospital workers should have enough available without having to reuse them. I hope this nurse weighed her options and made the best decision for her and her family. – Tentacle_elmo


8. Mental health should come first, even for physicians.

How many physicians are unhappy with their careers? I saw my primary care physician slowly become weighed down and less enthusiastic as the years went on, and I don’t think it was entirely due to age. The ones I know who are happy with their career choice are the high-level specialists. Those are like the top percentage of the entire physician field and generally will have a combination of skills, intelligence, interest, and drive that separates them from the average person, so even their experience is skewed. It is not a job for people who simply want a high-paying job.

It is extremely stressful and not suitable for every person, but I saw a lot of people going into it for the wrong reasons. Also, it doesn’t help that the medical industry and academia seem to think making it harder on physicians is part of the job. This is before the pandemic was even a thing. Every medical professional should take time for their mental health, making appointments to see therapists ensure they are in a good frame of mind while treating others. I believe this is of the utmost importance, as it’s difficult to treat others when having problems of your own. – biowiz


7. This registered nurse wants to tell everyone how she feels.

I’m an RN. For people of my age and demographic, it’s a cold (and yes, I’ve had it; caught it from a patient. For me, a healthy 35-yr-old female with no preexisting conditions, it was a cold. And a SHORT cold at that.) Living your life in a tight little orbit around the fear of death is a terrible way to live, and most healthcare providers understand that because we see every single day that human beings are mortal. There is no escape from that, and this “we all need to hunker down and hide until it’s safe” is nonsense. You will never be safe, and you will never know how long you have until your death is staring you in the face.

So basically, we keep working because we have a different perspective, and most of us understand that there are things far worse than death. So A) the virus is largely not a threat to most of us (and yes, I know; the media has had an absolute field day making it sound like it is. You need to check the actual CDC data instead of just trusting NYT and WSJ). And B) most of us who work in healthcare would keep working even if it was that dangerous because most of us have accepted that death is going to happen at some point, and “hunkering down” in the hope of some future safety is both doomed and nonsensical. You only have now. – h_buxt


6. Full intensive care units made this anesthetist say goodbye.

I’m a nurse anesthetist, and right now, we are canceling elective surgeries that could potentially result in an ICU admission due to no ICU beds. Other hospitals are not even doing electives right now. This is a huge problem! Let’s put the pandemic aside for a second…not doing these surgeries alone is creating a HUGE backlog. After we get done dealing with the virus, we will then have to try to get as many of these surgeries done while doing the cases we already have scheduled for the future. Nurses and Doctors are quitting for one reason – The stress associated with these backlogs.

This nurse is extremely stressed out due to the backlogs of elective surgeries. She talks about the ICU being full, with no beds available for surgery patients. It’s a scary scenario when every bed in a hospital is full, and you can’t get the surgery needed. The stress put on nurses and doctors during the pandemic is enough to make any one of them want to quit and find a less stressful job. Imagine going to the hospital for something like a wound and being turned away. It’s terrifying to think about handling something like that on your own or having to travel around searching for a hospital to take you. – zoobzooms


5. Staffing concerns are no good for any industry.

This whole pandemic situation is bad. I’m a Respiratory Therapist, and we are about to open our third ICU for the virus. Tons of nurses have quit and are burned out. Therapists are on FMLA. People are getting sick from stress and being burned out. I’m in such a bad mood every single day and at my wit’s end, knowing full well I’m gonna have to go another shift with no lunch break. We’re constantly short-staffed. We missed a few rapid responses that ended up being intubated. It’s dangerous to be burned out like we are and caring for patients.

We need some more nurses and doctors available to help. The healthcare staff are constantly on edge and exhausted. It’s just dangerous all the way around. I used to look forward to going to work and caring for my patients, but now it’s a completely different story. It’s not like I don’t care – I do, it’s just such a traumatic turn of events that’s completely changed the way we view our work. You never know from one day to the next what’s going to happen. I’ve considered quitting along with some of my healthcare coworkers but can’t leave these patients behind that need my help. – cube_k


4. Watching people pass away without loved ones nearby is heartbreaking.

I’m an ICU RN. It’s super busy, worse than this past Spring. One different thing, we now allow visitors for virus positive patients who are actively dying, so we do not have to FaceTime patient deaths as much anymore. (That was gut-wrenching.) Some non intubated patients still deny that they have it. One pt said, “I have been tested three times, and each time was WRONG!” On a positive note, I love the group that I work with, despite the insanely short staffing and chaos. Without them, it would be game over for me. I wouldn’t be able to handle it without them. – OrangeCosmos

This Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse had a difficult time watching her patients pass away without allowing loved ones into the room. The virus has taken thousands of good people away from their families, and the nurses witness those last moments. They are often the last people the patient sees before passing. This must be so difficult to witness daily. I wouldn’t blame any nurse or doctor for quitting after witnessing so much death in such a short period. Something like that must take its toll on these frontliners. It’s difficult to believe there are still people out there who think this isn’t real.


3. A cancer inpatient nurse who is scared to death of her own job.

Hello. I’m a Cancer Inpatient Nurse here. I am scared, but not for myself. I am terrified of my patients who have to have chemo and have their immune systems destroyed. Then, a visitor comes in and gives them the virus! Yes, this has happened. Their immune systems are already compromised. Plus, they’re fighting for their lives, only to come into contact with a test positive individual. I’ve seen numerous patients get a positive result after having visitors, and it doesn’t seem to faze anyone. How can we allow visitors during such a terrifying time, especially for my patients with compromised immune systems?

I’m not trained to take care of ICU patients. Have I done it? Yes. I’m not trained to take care of step-down ICU patients. Have I? YES. We are stretched so thin. I’m just completely burned out. We have four inpatient medical surge units turned into virus units. Our ICUs are full. We have more than 100 cases over our April peak, and it’s going to get worse. It looks as though there’s no end to this virus, and my patients are scared as well. I don’t know how to ease their fears. I’m so freaking scared for them and feel like there’s nothing I can do. – lokolovestacos


2. Unhealthy habits made this EMT quit.

Hello, I started my career as an EMT who was working on becoming an ER nurse. One day, I just noticed myself being burned out three years into the profession. My patience was wearing thin, I was eating unhealthy, I developed anxiety, and my father had recently gone into bypass surgery after being a paramedic for thirty years. It was becoming more and more difficult to go to work every day. I liked helping people, but the expense was killing me physically and mentally–since then, I’ve left the medical field and changed my major to education–for stress relief. – fennelliott

This EMT turned Emergency Room Nurse noticed a change three years into her career. She was completely burned out and realized it was time for a change. Her mental health was failing, and she was dealing with anxiety daily. I can understand why she would want to quit, as her personal health is of the utmost importance. It has to be difficult to help others when you’re feeling unwell. As she said, she enjoyed helping people, so switching to a major in education allowed her to continue helping others in a different setting. I hope she found a way to handle her anxiety and mental health concerns.


1. The utter and complete burnout nurses face everyday.

I’m a nurse in the process of quitting. So I don’t know if I count. Nursing has changed. It isn’t what I signed up for. It’s hard to nail down just one thing but a list of things that comes to mind. Everything has become death by paperwork. There are policies and procedures for the policies and procedures. The list of mandatory learnings has gone from 5 or 6 essentials to over 20. Things have become so hyper-specialized that once you have worked in one area for more than two years, you almost can’t move to a different area because essential skills have atrophied.

Upper management wants to simultaneously cut costs (nursing hours) and increase besides time (paperwork) and patient service. They want us to stop using the term ‘patients’ and call them clients or guests. Okay, these people aren’t a freaking guest. They are here to get better. No hospitals want to train healthcare staff in my niche area. They all seem to think when staff leaves, they can just hire experienced staff. We tell them they can’t, and yet when someone leaves and operational efficiency drops because we have to train new staff. Being constantly burned out is mentally exhausting. Frugalityreality