Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at

Q. I have been struggling with the reality of nursing. I find that I am so stressed most of the time with too many patients, way too much time on the computer, answering the phone, interacting with families and doctors with barely any time to eat or go to the bathroom. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I know I am not alone in the way i feel but I don’t know what to do.

A. You are right, you are definitely not alone. This is a huge dilemma for countless nurses and health care providers. It is a very serious reality. We currently have a nursing shortage and the prediction for the future looks very grim.
I recently worked a health fair and a hospital booth was set up beside me. There were two nurses working the booth, taking blood pressures and educating people about different ways to stay healthy. During the breaks we would talk together. Both of these nurses were in their mid twenties. One female had already had five jobs and the other, four jobs.
They both shared that they were very disillusioned with nursing. “We spend most of our time sitting behind the computer, answering the phone, processing paperwork for admissions and discharges;we feel more like office managers than nurses. We want to provide health care to our patients, they are why we have this job. We learned many nursing skills that we hurriedly provide so we can get to the next patient or get back to the computer.”
“We keep job hopping because we hope the next nursing environment will finally met our nursing expectations.”
Nursing students who are doing different medical rotations are not blind to the reality of what they see. I recently heard the story of the fourth semester student who ended up in the bathroom crying, telling her teacher that she could not do this. She said this is too hard. AND she quit.
We have lost focus on quality nursing care because we have too many other things to do. The patients are why we are working and they deserve our best.
We can’t even be the best to ourselves if stress has become chronic and we have forgotten how to play and enjoy our time away from work. This job cannot cause disease and addictions. No job is worth that!! We need to stop and smell the roses/coffee/downy fabric softener………whatever will make us slow down and take a long, in-depth look at our lives.
Spend time alone to think, talk to trusted people to vent and hopefully process some healthy answers. Go where there is good energy and laughter.