To leave midwifery :((51 Posts)
Hello. As the title says, I am seriously considering leaving my job as a midwife after only a year qualified. I knew the job would be challenging, and stressful, and the pressures that the NHS is under. I worked hard for 3 years to get my degree. It was financially tough and I have accumulated a fair amount of credit card debt to get by. I sacrificed so much for a career I wanted to do for years.
But I'm burnt out. I am constantly sick and shaky with worry. I am constantly put into situations where I feel unsafe and am looking after too many women. I have thought about leaving every day for the past 6 months, but feel utterly trapped due to the debt I have built up to do the bloody course in the first place. I am sick of crying or being on the verge of crying. I am sick of being so tired, of my daughter crying as I go for yet another shift I will be late home from. I am sick of the zero support from management, the 'sink or swim' culture. I am crippled with guilt at the thought of throwing away the last 4 years and what I have put my family through. I feel like a weak useless failure. I am utterly terrified of making mistakes that could kill someone. I feel like my head is going to explode with it all. I have an appointment to see my GP as I feel I am sliding into depression. All I want to do is lay in bed and cry. I can't eat or sleep properly. Just to top it off? I am 5 weeks pregnant so feel even more trapped as I can't afford to leave.
Has anyone left midwifery or nursing or similar and what did you do? Is there any light at the end of the tunnel for me? I can't go on like this much longer.
I just left teaching due to anxiety like you describe (obviously not life or death but I felt pressure too). I felt I was spread too thinly - too tired and stressed from work turned me into a massive grump at home and I felt like I was running on empty. In the end my mental health really suffered and I was off sick for a long time. But each time I thought about going back the anxiety would kick in again and I'd be back to square one.in the end I decided to leave my job (I had some issues with the particular place I worked). It was so hard to make the decision but once I made it a huge weight was lifted. Now I'm not saying it hasn't been difficult since- money has been tight while in trying to get well enough to work.
Have you thought about seeing your gp? The early weeks of pregnancy are just so tiring and you sound like you need someone to talk to about the anxiety you feel. For me.medication really helped, but I'm.not saying that's the only road to explore.
Is part time something that could work? Have you any other support?
Oops sorry.misaed the bit that said you have a gp appt already
Could you retrain as a doula, NCT instructor, lactation consultant or even private midwife?
I left in similar circumstances, now I'm still in the NHS but in a job I love (mostly).
You must go to your patient safety lead. Explain all this. If no progress go to your professional body, is it RCN? Retention of staff is a big big issue.
When you raise this, focus on the patient safety aspects and the ratio of midwife per patient.
Good luck and don't give up. x
Is there a different role you could step into that still allowed you to use your skills but under less pressure?
I dropped out of my course because of feeling exactly like this. I then came back to the course completed it and felt really ready to start my job. So I suppose I'm saying it does get better. I would seriously investigate moving unit before you give up. Or could you drop your hours and only take extras when you feel up to it? Do you have preceptor you could speak too?
Have you considered community rather than hospital midwifery?
I'm assuming you have been on forums like student midwife? 1st year qualified is notoriously the hardest part so seek support from union etc and see if you can keep going for a little bit to see if it gets more manageable as on student midwife people often post an update after a while and they're much happier two years post qualification
what about a different unit? Not every place is the same.
I wouldn't rush to leave in your situation, you are so new in your career and a different environment or different role such as community might be all you need.
I felt a bit like you after my first year and went on secondment to another area. It was just what I needed and I honestly love my job now (I'm a theatre nurse fwiw).
Hi I'm a nurse of 15yrs. I left the NHS two years ago for all the reasons you've said. Low pay that been capped for 6yrs now and paying to park at work pushed me to leave.
I work for Thornbury I love it. I will never go back to the NHS again. My friends are doing jobs such as first aid trainers, research nurses and medical reps.
I felt exactly as you did! I left and ended up paying back all my mat leave but I didn't care. I wanted out! I was sick of that feeling x I've since been diagnosed with anxiety and I'm sure it stems from this x
@Sunnysidegold I feel for you, I have friends who are teachers and it seems so stressful. Did you go back into education or a different role altogether? I have thought about reducing hours but I don't know if I could afford it and I am pretty sure they wouldn't like it as staffing is bad already. it's all about 'the needs of the service'.
@Sugarcoma I have thought about it and will look into it, but currently I feel like I want to get away from it all altogether My other issue is that midwifery is my 2nd degree. So I can no longer get any funding for any training and I have nothing, no savings. I will research it though, thank you.
@OldPony I am in the RCM, I could talk to our rep but unsure how much they can do. I think I could also go to occy health? Are you now in a non clinical role? I do like working in healthcare but I think the responsibility and pressure of clinical working is just too much for me. I have admin experience so working in admin, clinical coding, records etc could be an option. I have honestly thought about just handing in notice but I can't risk not getting another job with baby on the way. I have spoken to our lead midwife for band 5s who has been supportive but again, how much can they do when staffing is so stretched already. I just feel helpless.
Thanks for the responses
A former colleague's daughter. She had started as a yoga bellies instructor on the side and it took off. She now does classes full time working for herself. A friend of my mum's works as a coordinator between the NHS and the breastfeeding network.
@fairybella I am convinced even if I managed to stay I'd not go back after mat leave. Maybe I can just get through the next few months and then consider my options when off.
@scaredofthecity That's true, but I'm scared of going from frying pan into the fire! I feel it is the job and responsibility itself and I'm unsure if a new trust would help my fear about the job. Its something to consider though.
@Thirtyrock39 yes I was on there as a student and visit now and again. I know NQM is the hardest bit but strangely it's only become much worse in the last month or so. I keep thinking it may get better but only gets worse. I feel I know deep in my heart that this isn't for me and I'm just delaying the inevitable. I will speak to my union rep, thanks.
re community - That's where I am now and I feel the responsibility is too much, I can't stand it. I don't feel a 1 year qualified midwife has the experience for community. Sadly I can't think of an area I actually enjoy right now, as all suffer from the same problems. It all comes down to staffing and the sad state of the NHS across the board.
I am going to see the preceptorship mw soon, maybe there is something we can work out. But right now I just can't see a way of me being happy doing this. I can't remember what it feels like to be happy. Sorry that sounds so pathetic!
Thank you for your understanding responses. I find this hard to talk about IRL as I feel everyone just thinks you should get on with it. I hate that this has happened to me, I hate that midwives and nurses are made to feel this way and have their passion for patient care destroyed by the system that just chews you up and spits you out.
Could you look into private midwifery? Or depending on where on you are/how you feel on home births you can try the one to one service?
See GP as first port of call. It sounds as if you need some time off. Then mat leave. Good careers in clinical coding
also have a look here for non-clinical jobs
If it's the responsibility that your struggling with, what about trying a labour ward? I know the patients are more complex but your working alongside doctors and you may feel more supported.
It does sound like community may not be for you at the moment.
The Labour ward in my hospital is a bit quieter than most and is really lovely, and the midwives mostly seem very happy there.
I left nursing and moved into being an executive assistant in the City. But I was a medical secretary for a year first to get more experience and then I did temping as a personal assistant.
The pay is much more, flexible hours, able to work from home, low stress and nobody will die if you mess up!
I am two years qualified - I had a few moments last year where I nearly walked away. I am glad I didn't. Pm me if you want to chat x
Personally I think you have to give it longer. The transition from training to qualified is tough. And is it right- you're pregnant? I found emotionally and for coping with stress that working while pregnant has been the hardest times of my career. Get as much help as you can, leave by 30 weeks and then aim to return to work for the 3 months and then you won't be too much out of pocket even if you decide to give up then. However hard it is, now is not the time to quit if you can possibly manage to keep going for a couple more months. Also, work the system to your advantage- have you done all your training? Time off for maternity appts etc.
Even if you decide not to go back if you can keep going till maternity leave you'll get maternity pay.
But even so the first 2 years really are the hardest where you learn to manage caseloads, learn to cope with the pressure and stress- these are all things that can and have to be learnt and it takes time.
I left midwifery last year and had been qualified for just over 3 yrs, and it is the best move i've ever made. I felt the same as you from about 14months post qualified. I moved trust to begin my career, so that doubled with the NQ starts I felt it would improve but it never did. It broke my heart to leave as midwifery was a dream since I was about 13. My mental health suffered, I would cry on way home from shift, a shift that i didn't get a proper break on, as well as almost always finished late. I would worry about going in to next shift, and the fear on way into work became creeping in earlier and earlier till I was crying at home before leaving.
Midwifery is a fabulous career IF you can do what the title means - be with woman - but the reality is it full of politics, management who worry about targets and budgets much more than staffing levels and their staffs moral.
Many of my ex-colleagues have moved to different careers now, and many more are currently looking - midwifery is on its knees and tbh I can't see it improving.
For me peace of mind, enjoyment of work and own personal happiness is worth far more than my love of midwifery, but i appreciate not everyone else is that fortunate.
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