Healthcare Workers Tell Stories That Made Them Quit

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,… Trista - April 15, 2021

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