Healthcare Workers Tell Stories That Made Them Quit

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.… Trista - April 15, 2021

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