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Nursing: You Wanna Know What I Think?

What It’s Like to Be a Retired Nurse

Published August 27, 2013 7:14 AM by Pat Veitenthal
I wanted to continue with this blog after retirement, because I thought I would be able to tell you what it's like for an old RN like me to be out to pasture. I'm going to try, but the truth is, it's been weird in both good and bad ways.

The foremost thing I've noticed is how much I sleep, or sometimes don't sleep...actually, it's a total screw up of my internal clock.  Never before could I sleep in a chair, but I can now. I'll be in my chair watching TV, and before I know it, I'll wake myself up snoring, and it will be two hours later! Or I'll be reading or watching TV in the evening, and suddenly it's 0530. I've talked to other recently retired nurses who say that this little game goes on for about a year, and longer if you worked different shifts.

It's also taking some getting used to not being able to "shop" when I want. I never was much of a shopper, but now I have to wait for the second Wednesday of the month when the SS check comes to see what I have left after paying bills. Maybe I can get those shoes, or go out to dinner...or maybe I can't. Regardless, this is a budget that I'll be on forever.

Another thing is how horribly much I miss my colleagues. You see, I was all about nurses and nursing. Not only was this my vocation, it was my social life. Granted, I moved 4 hours away from everyone when I retired, but I'm at home, and I waited a long time to get back here. I just wish my friends from work would visit as much as they said they would. I live in an Atlantic beach resort community, and I do dangle it as enticement, but they are all still working full time and I know how hard it is to get away. Same goes for missing my grandbabies. They're very young and it's a lot for their parents to pack 3 little ones up for a 6 hour car ride!

So what do I do all day? I walk my dog 2 to 3 times a day, and I read a great many REAL books. I'm also writing another book, of course about nursing. I spend time on Face book, which has been great fun, but I need more to do. I believe that everyone needs a purpose. Nursing was mine for 45 years, but now it's time to find another. I'm open to suggestions...

posted by Pat Veitenthal

8 comments

Pat, I do not know if you are still blogging , but I retired Oct. 2013.

I was not ready , but my body was , due to a recent health problem.

I am having trouble filling my time as well .  I garden, and am determined to feed my family well from the vegetables and herbs i have been growing. It's fun and fills some of my time.

However , I am so used to using my mind and going like a "bat" that I fill very unfulfilled.

I have thought of part time work but cannot get a handle on what I can do or would love to do. I could use extra money but I find myself dragging my feet because I am afraid I will fall back into a job I can no longer physically do.  So like you , I am at loose ends .

Carol, Family Practice - R N, Dr's office June 1, 2014 3:45 PM
Dacula GA

Volunteer some of that free time.  In my area, there are many  volunteer opportunities to assist organizations that feed the homeless, provide shelter for abused women, and shelter cats and dogs until new homes are found.  It is a good way to meet other retired people in your area.  Go for walks on the beach and bring a camera.  See all the scenic places you always wanted to see in your area, but we're prevented from doing due to your previous work schedule. Slow down and enjoy your new life.  The best things in life are free.

Linda, Retired RN February 2, 2014 9:48 AM
Port Saint Lucie FL

Pat, I feel your pain.  My "retirement" came about abruptly after a surgery that prevented me from ever returning to the job I loved.  I've been a nurse for over 45 years.  To respond to your dilemma, find something that interests you, I learned early that I couldn't rely on my children or friends to fill in the empty time.  I joined a club in my new community, met new people, went back to school, albeit online, became a certified life and business coach and I'm now focused on my clients who are all working women with kids trying to balance their lives.  What you have just experienced is a HUGE transition and you should pat yourself on the back for what you have accomplished but now look forward to all that remains to be accomplished.  BTW, I'm a Jersey Girl from way back.  

Jean Biacsi September 11, 2013 6:40 PM
Boulder City NV

Join or start a writing group. It can be a great way to fill your time and challenge your skills. If you haven't done it already, you will see how valuable your nursing skills are in the writer's world.

Lorettajo Kapinos September 2, 2013 10:44 AM

Pat!  Great article.  You're missed, but keep writing and traveling, and shedding some insight to the younger generation . . .they need YOU! xo  OH!  So do I!!

M . Kate Edwards, PACU - RN, Prince William Medical Center August 29, 2013 6:55 AM
Manassas, VA

Sail more!   I'd love to cruise with you!!

Janet Warkentine August 27, 2013 9:15 PM

Another vote for travel! Especially if you have a friend that you could share your time and expenses with. Or maybe a new hobby? If I ever get to retire I want to open up a cupcake shop or at least bake more cupcakes to sell out of my home.

Brandi Burdette August 27, 2013 8:33 PM

Travel with a friend...share the costs and driving and see what a great country we live in!

Tom August 27, 2013 6:49 PM

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About this Blog


    Pat Veitenthal, BSN, RN
    Occupation: Per diem nursing supervisor and cruise ship nurse
    Setting: Community hospital and cruise ships
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