Ask Aunt Agatha: “Help! I hate my job and want to quit!”


Thinkstock | Steve Hix/Fuse

Thinkstock | Steve Hix/Fuse

Dear Aunt Agatha: I’ve been a nurse for six months and I think I’m going crazy. I can’t sleep or eat, and I’m anxious all the time. I hate my job. What do I do? I want to quit.

Congratulations on making it this far. Anxiety is really, really common among new nurses. I’d bet that most of us felt like you feel during the first six months or year on the job. It passes. Your pattern recognition skills will get stronger, and you’ll be able to remember more and feel less stressed.

You don’t mention anything specifically that makes you hate your job, just general anxiety. It might be worth checking into some non-drug anxiety-reduction techniques. Also, talk to your peers, both experienced and new nurses. You’ll feel considerably better when you know that not only have they been there, but that they have your back.


Dear Aunt Agatha: What do you think of using lidocaine for IV starts? Worth it or not?

Plenty of studies have shown that lidocaine is effective for pain relief when used intradermally before an IV start. That said, I thought of three barriers to using it right away.

First is practice. If you’re not used to raising a bleb in the skin, it can be tricky. If you’re not used to starting an IV over that bleb, that can be tricky, too. And if you’re not great at IVs in the first place, well, no amount of lidocaine is going to help that.

Second is cost. Some facilities don’t use lidocaine, or don’t use it consistently, because it costs money. If it’s not there, or it’s not there every time, you won’t get good at using it.

Third is pain. Yes, lidocaine is great for pain control…but it hurts like crazy going in. If you’re not using it routinely, you’d have to balance the additional “stick and burn” with the comfort of getting a little less pain with IV insertion. It might not be worth it for the patient.

If you use lidocaine regularly and are confident with it, great! If you don’t, and somebody asks for it, consider using a topical cream, like Emla, if you’re not practiced with the intradermal route.


Dear Aunt Agatha: I have been a “floor” nurse for 28 years. After having two major surgeries in a short period of time, I realize I cannot continue with my usual job. I have no idea what to do next, as all I know is “hands on” nursing. I am age 62, with an associate’s degree + certification in pediatric nursing. I have worked on a med-surg/pediatric unit my entire career. My physical capabilities limit me to “light duty” only, and I have a hearing loss that would not be conducive to telephone work. Any ideas on where I could go next?

This is a tough situation for you. I’m sorry! The first two things that came to mind for you were working in a pediatrician’s office or working as a care coordinator or patient navigator. The only difficulty with the second one would be the amount of phone time you’d have to spend—but there are add-ons to most phones that help people with hearing loss.

Another idea is education. Depending on the facility, you don’t need an advanced degree to be a clinical educator, especially with a lot of experience.

Do you work in a hospital that’s part of a larger system? If so, there may well be clinical positions in outpatient clinics. You could also look into management-track jobs. Your clinical experience would be incredibly valuable in most management positions.

Good luck!


Got a question you need answered? Leave it for Aunt Agatha in the comments section below. Or, if you prefer to remain anonymous, you can send it to her attention via as************@gm***.com. She’ll choose select questions to answer in an article here on every month.

Aunt Agatha reminds her readers that all advice is to be taken with a grain of salt, does not substitute for professional legal or medical advice, and should not be submerged in water. Other restrictions may apply.

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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