Stepping Away from Nursing

I debated on what to title this blog post- because I didn’t want anyone to get here and feel like it was overly dramatic or “click bait.” But, I decided “stepping away from nursing” was the best title for how I am feeling right now. Here is a little bit of my story.

One of the great things about travel nursing is the ability to take time off between contracts. My plan since I started travel nursing was to take extended time off throughout the year to travel, see family and friends, and enjoy the holidays. I had already planned to do three 13 week contracts this year, and then take the rest of the year off. However, as time went by, and the hospital was hit with a severe wave of Covid patients, taking time off went from a want to a need.

I have talked about burn out many times on Instagram and here, but I honestly have never felt so burnt out in my life. I fear some people may think I hate nursing or I am just an unhappy person. I honestly love nursing. I love the science and healing and caring for people. I truly feel it is a privilege to be with people during the best and worst moments of their life. However, the system in which we have to work as a nurse is broken. Covid has made things exponentially worst.

Working the Covid Unit 

The past few months have been full of very hard shifts. Patient suffering and deaths. People screaming Covid isn’t real as I watch my patients struggle for every breath. Short staffed. Increased ratios. The list goes on. I found myself very anxious before work. I couldn’t sleep when I was home. I did nothing but lay on the couch and go to the hospital. When I was at work, I was anxious and irritated. I was always kind to my patients and a good nurse. But I was not myself anymore. Even coworkers noticed I wasn’t as happy or positive. I couldn’t even fake it. After 1.5 years of Covid, I was hitting a true breaking point. I realized I had to step away from nursing, if I wanted to continue to be a good nurse.

We have all worked with them, the extremely jaded and burnt out nurse who just won’t leave the bedside. I don’t want to become that person. Thtoxic coworker who brings down the moral. I can honestly say if I was a staff nurse, I would have to take an LOA or quit my job for a few months if I was in the mental state I am in now. Luckily, as a traveler, I can more easily take time off. I worked my last shift on November 6 and I don’t plan to return until at least January.

My time away has definitely been helpful for my mental health, but I still have a ways to go. Not going to work is not magically making things better. This is hard to write and admit, but I want to be honest, in case anyone reads this who is also struggling. I have not really talked about this on social media, but I feel my blog readers are a more close and intimate group. Although, there is no shame whatsoever in talking about this- and this needs to be normalized. I talked to my nurse practitioner at my annual well women’s exam about my struggles. It was really hard. I didn’t know what to say. It took until she was walking for me to just mutter “I need help.” I told her what I had been experiencing and I was diagnosed with PTSD and started on an SSRI to help with my depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms I am having. She said they have seen a lot of healthcare workers experiencing the same things. I also was giving a benzodiazepine for panic attacks and severe anxiety. I will be starting therapy. The medication is starting to help, but I still don’t feel like myself.

I in no way believe that you can exercise or self care your way out of any type of mental illness. Yes, some people can control their illness with these things- but a lot of people need medication and/or- and that’s okay. However, I do believe self care is important along with whatever other treatment is right for you. Up until the past year I was a runner, I enjoyed going to the gym, I enjoyed writing and reading. I have friends and hobbies. Most of that stopped this year. The past few weeks I have made it a goal to walk my dog 2 miles a day. To spend a few minutes reading a book or a blog. I hope to begin to incorporate some journaling next as well. Small steps.

If you are struggling, please reach out to someone. Find a therapist. Talk to your doctor. I have watched so many health care workers suffer and we aren’t being given the support we need. PLEASE reach out and talk to someone. I am so incredibly thankful for my husband, family, and friends who have showed me so much support. Called, stopped by, and text to check on me. Sent care packages. I seriously am beyond blessed with the most amazing people. But I know not everyone is lucky enough to have people like that in their life. You can reach out to me on social media or my email on the contact page. You are not alone in your struggles.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I plan to continue to update on this journey. I think writing about it is therapeutic. And I think its important for people to know they are not alone.

Thanks for being here.

6 thoughts on “Stepping Away from Nursing”


Thank you for your transparency! I too have felt overwhelmed, under appreciated and stressed to the max! I’m thankful for my village and the people who care about me! We all need to decompress! I hope you enjoy your time off and have a wonderful holiday season!

Crystal Johnson

Thank you for sharing your journey. Highs and lows. Much love and hugs sent to you.

I knew you were a wonderful, compassionate girl growing up and have grown into an even more wonderful adult.


*hugs* we miss u megan!

Aimee Hauser RN

Your openness and honesty is so needed by more of us and so appreciated. I left the hospital as a staff nurse in April after working covid from its beginning. I felt many of the same things you’ve described…anxiety, fear, panic, depression, and every morning when I’d walk from the parking lot to the hospital front doors, my eyes would fill with tears. If I hadn’t left when I did, I fear my condition would have escalated quickly. Even today, 8 months later, my eyes fill with tears when I hear stories like yours or talk about my own. You are definitely not alone ever nurse sister, I am glad you’re on your road to recovery and healing. And I hope this holiday season reminds you what is most important in life.❤️


You are so brave and I know your honesty will help so many people. I’m so proud to call you my friend. 💖💕💖

Marya Taylor

The biggest part to recovery is realizing and accepting you have a problem that is keeping you down, anxious and depressed. The second part is reaching out for help and working on discovering the root of your trauma and taking the necessary actions to minimize future contact.
It appears you are medically moving in the right direction and remembering to take care of yourself first for what good are you to your nursing others if you are broken yourself.
I tell given more time and working toward a new normal by staying in touch with the world and getting.back to activities and friends outside of work will reboot your brain and thespirit.that drives it.
Life is a series of highs and lows. Learning that nothing stays high or.low forever and finding peace with that will give you power and experience to manage your next crisis.
Spoken as a 68 year old female who has lived through many traumas and survived. I find comfort in prayer and meditation. It is a pillow for my spirit.
Let me know how you are doing.

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