Wrestling Hard with Why I Stay

Yesterday, I was in a space with a group of healthcare workers exploring the topic of “Why I Stay.” I hoped for some inspiration, some rekindling or stoking of a fire that feels in danger of being extinguished. It was a sobering slap of reality to hear more unexpected silence than active engagement in the group, as everyone wrestled deeply with the complicated search for the answer to “why I stay.”

Mom life outside of work (and let’s be honest, the extra exhaustion and required recovery time from recent work shifts) has resulted in limited capacity to write more meaningful posts here as of late. But I will share what I put on Twitter at the end of the day, after aching with sadness all day about the cloud of discouragement that rested over yesterday’s group conversation. I posted these Tweets on my Instagram stories, and so many coworkers are resonating with them.


It feels as though the only way I can find my “why” at work is to recognize that I’ll never be there because a system actually values me, even as a seasoned nurse with a heart.

Somehow then, I have the ability to show up freely, and one day, if the time comes, leave freely too.

Please know, I don’t want to leave or have plans to leave. I love my multidisciplinary colleagues and immediate supervisors and feel loved by them. I love the actual work I get to do. But it’s tragic that nurses’ relationship to the system at this point is so deep in toxicity.

And so I just need to say out loud to the system as a whole, you don’t have a hold on me. I’m here because I choose to be, because I recognize my value to my patients, their families and to my immediate team. Not because I’m any savior but I know I’m a good nurse and team player.

Tonight, I grieve the sad, hard feelings I have about a profession that I honestly love. I grieve the way we are losing our heart in work that once captivated our hearts, and I grieve that the people who ultimately pay the cost are our patients + their families.

Tonight, surface positivity and team rah-rah just doesn’t feel right or true or sufficient. Tonight, it just feels like we need to grieve, and hold a candle to those in healthcare who are holding onto hope and heart by a thread.

2 thoughts on “Wrestling Hard with Why I Stay

  1. This! Everything you said resonated with me. I have been in med surg/PCU for 10 years. I’ve been PRN for several years, dwindlng down how many shifts I work because I dread going in. Now I force myself to work once a week so that I don’t lose skills. Last year I started as a clinical instructor for ADN nursing students, and I like this role so much more. Working with the students has been my inspiration and my why. We actually have time to do quality work and talk to patients, educate them, bathe patients, & get them out of bed. But I am acutely aware that the students are being leaned on to do a lot of work that the nurses and techs can’t get to because of overwhelm and unrealistic expectations of the healthcare system. This isn’t fair to anyone, but at least the patients are benefitting! Nurses and techs are drowing and the workload and expectations of the system just keep getting higher and higher.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is super hard to keep your nose above water emotionally when you feel like a cog in the machine — especially in a machine that doesn’t care about you. It’s ironic that the burnout intervention actually increased your burnout. That’s pretty common these days with ham-fisted burnout prevention efforts that almost feel like they’re from a Dilbert comic.


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