Hey there! I’m Nurse FERN the financially enlightened and somewhat sarcastic nurse who helps you get your finances together.
I need to say something before you read this, I love being a nurse, it has taken me some time to get back to feeling this way, but it’s true. The views expressed below in no way reflect those of any institution that I currently or previously worked for. Please be kind and accept that everyone has a different experience and path in their profession. I hope above all hopes that you never experience burnout, but for those who have maybe this will help you feel less alone.
Something is Wrong
Sometimes what seems to be the most obvious is the hardest to nail down. Experienced bedside nurses appear to be quitting left and right. We are losing them by droves to happier lands like interventional radiology, PACU, OR, or desk jobs. Some leave the profession entirely.
The saddest part of all is that I deeply understand this need to escape. Being a critical care nurse is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have also never been more proud of a job, but I don’t fault anyone, including myself, for leaving.
Our patients deserve good nurses, our coworkers deserve good nurses, the aging population needs us.
When I suddenly lost my enthusiasm for nursing, I wanted to know where it went. What happened to my excitement, happiness, and my eagerness to learn and try new things?
I launched myself into a project focused on nurse burnout. My partner and I knew it was a problem, bigger than anyone was acknowledging. We were baffled, fed up ourselves, and decided to see what we could do.
News flash, we did not solve the burn out crisis in healthcare, not by a long shot.
What became crushingly apparent was that fixing burnout fell upon the shoulders of the individual. Resources provided simply weren’t being used. No one knew they existed because they were too busy taking care of patients to seek help.
Most of our project data came from police departments and fire/EMS. At the time, no one was looking at data on nurses. We tried to implement critical incident debriefs, but no one had time. There was always a more pressing task that needed to be done.
The patient next door was in pain and needed meds. The triage line was out the door, medics were holding in hallways, police were waiting for secure areas for 5150s, blankets were needed, IVs to be started, sandwiches to be given…patients come first.
Fixing Burnout and My Finances
In the midst of all this, I noticed that I had hit rock bottom. The chaos in which I used to thrive was crushing me. I was utterly stuck.
I remember standing at the ice machine in our back hallway, I could see the ambulance bay doors. Would anyone notice if I just walked out?
Even if I wanted to leave, I couldn’t. Financial and moral obligations kept me stuck where I was.
Did every other nurse around me live like this too? No wonder we were all jaded.
I accidentally stumbled upon a problem I could fix, although I didn’t recognize this was my solution at the time.
I made good money, but I spent most of it. It seemed like it would take a lifetime to pay off my student loans and that made everything seem dismal. Student loans extra suck when you are less than stoked about your job.
I decided the student loans had to go.
But I had to work more to create extra income, I was pulling 16-hour shifts in the ER and picked up a new job as a CCT nurse. Perhaps my memory is a little fuzzy from sleep deprivation, but I don’t remember it being a terrible time. I had a goal and that gave me purpose.
Having purpose gave me some of myself back. Work wasn’t so crushingly depressing anymore. I could see a time in the near future where, if I had to, I could leave and be okay for a little while. That was a new and unfamiliar feeling, being content with my financial situation.
Would you have the same results as me? Improved work/life balance, happier free time, and higher job satisfaction?
Moving Forward, Helping Others with Personal Finance
I started to feel like I had joined a cult of one, I had the everlasting elixir to potentially cure nurse burnout and create an abundant money mindset, but I told no one. I shared what I was up with a few coworkers, mainly those who asked me why I was so crazy to work so much.
Fast forward a few years and I opened a business as a money coach. Something about it never fit quite right. At the time, I purposefully created my message and everything I did to avoid sharing my talent with the healthcare community. I didn’t want to deal with the messiness of mixing my professional career with my new business.
I know now, that the biggest gift I have to offer is helping other nurses and new grads get their financial lives together so they will always have the option to walk away if they need, even if it’s just for a short while.
Having the freedom to walk away helped me love my profession again. If I can help one nurse love their career this project will be worth it.