Most Stressful Nursing Jobs | Incredible Health (2024)

Nurse Types / Most Stressful Nursing Jobs

Though many nurses love their jobs, nursing is stressful. Whileless-stressful rolesexist, lots of nurses workinhigh-stress positions.

Stress at work can lead toburnoutandcompassion fatigue.

Fortunately,thereare ways to deal with stressthatdoesn’tincludequittingyourjob.

However, some nurses want to avoid high-stress positions altogether. We have come up with a list of the most stressful nursing jobs to satisfy this need.

Not sure what nursing career path is best for you?

Try Incredible Health’s nursing specialty quiz.

Most Stressful Nursing Positions

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses

ICU is an extremely high-pressure environment and these nurses work with patients who have significant injuries and disease with added morbidity risks. Unstable patients require lifesaving interventions and once stabilized, are transferred to a different unit.

Datashowsthatmore thanhalf of all critical care nurses experience burnout syndrome. Nurses deal with several ethical dilemmas and traumaeachshift.

Often, patient outcomes are out ofyourhands, which can frustrate anynurse.


ER nursesarefirst responderswhen patients enter the hospital.

The fast-paced nature of this position can exhilarate nurses and causethemsignificant stress.Itall depends on thenurse.

Nurses within thisdepartmentmight spend an entire shift ontheirfeet without abreak evento use the restroom.

According toone study, job-related stress related to nursesbecausetheyhad to perform non-nursing activities consistently.

These nurses deal with various patients, andtheyalso struggle to feelincontrolof the patient outcomes.Theydon’t get to see patients heal, soitcan seem abitdeflating attimes.

Neonatal ICU

Within this role, nurses work with newborn infants who have various problems such as congenital disabilities, infection and cardiac issues. Theneonatalperiod involves the first month of life.

Watching newborn babies struggle is stressful. NICU nurses deal with the babies, but often parents sufferbecausetheycan’t even holdthem.

Nurses have to think quickly ontheirtoesinthis positionasNICU babies often develop complications without warning.

However, this role does have some satisfaction when nurses can see a baby go home safe and healthy withtheirfamilies.

OR nursing

OR nurses work in the operating room and deal more one-on-one with patients. In this sense, it deviates from the previous roles discussed. The operation room nurse provides quality care to patients during their surgery.

One of the benefits of this position involves having more regulated hours. However, OR nurses often must work extended hours due to the physician’s demands.OR nurses spend hours on their feet depending on the surgery length and work very closely with surgeons and techs.

Oncology Nursing

Theoncology nurserole can haveitsups and downs. Nurses have a chance to build relationships with patientsovertheirtimeintheircare. However,ithurts seeing patients suffering, especially whentheypassaway.

Another significant stressor for oncology nurses involvestheircontact with toxic chemotherapydrugs.

Ontopofthat,theyface severaldifferentpatients at a time with these acute symptoms.

It’snot an easy job.

Psychiatric Nursing

Psychiatric nursing isn’t just sitting aroundingroups discussing feelings. You have to deal with patients experiencing acute mental and physical health conditions. Unfortunately, sometimes these patients lash out physically at the nurses.

According tostudies, almost all nurses (88.6%) experiencedverbalviolence andmore thanhalf(56.1%) experienced physical violence.

The threat of physical andverbalviolence alone makes this particular job stressful.

Final words on the most stressful nursing jobs

The most stressful nursing jobs is a relative idea. However, these nursing jobs carry a significant amount of stress, buttheyalso provide rewarding opportunities to nurses. Let Incredible Health help you with tips for curbing burnout and incorporating wellness activities into your life. You’ve got this!

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Most Stressful Nursing Jobs | Incredible Health (2024)


Most Stressful Nursing Jobs | Incredible Health? ›

What nursing jobs are the most stressful? The most stressful nursing jobs include ICU nurse, ER nurse, and NICU nurse. In these roles, nurses work in an intense environment with high stakes. They manage emergency situations and care for critically ill patients.

What is the most stressful job in nursing? ›

What nursing jobs are the most stressful? The most stressful nursing jobs include ICU nurse, ER nurse, and NICU nurse. In these roles, nurses work in an intense environment with high stakes. They manage emergency situations and care for critically ill patients.

Which field of nursing has the highest burnout rate? ›

Critical care nurses suffer the highest rates of burnout.

More specifically, a whopping 81% of crucial care nurses experience symptoms of burnout.

What was the hardest thing a nurse has to do? ›

Seeing the death of their patients.

"Seeing those patients you took care of die and how devastating it is to the family" is the hardest part of being a nurse, said Melissa, a nurse from Oklahoma city.

What is the most stressful job in healthcare? ›

EMTs are the first responders and is #1 for the most stressful jobs. They sometimes deal with gruesome and violent situations that demand immediate medical attention. They're called out to car accidents, heart attacks, gunshot wounds, and a list of other situations.

What is the easiest type of RN? ›

10 Of the easiest nursing jobs available
  • Clinic Nurse. ...
  • Traveling Nurse. ...
  • School Nurse. ...
  • Summer Camp Nurse. ...
  • Nurse Administrator. Average Annual Salary: $68,000. ...
  • Public Health Nurse. Average Annual Salary: $56,000. ...
  • Researcher Nurse. Average Annual Salary: $62,000. ...
  • Home Health Nurse. Average Annual Salary: $64,000.
Jun 22, 2023

Why is nursing so stressful? ›

Nursing is known as a stressful job since it is associated with complex job demands and needs, and high expectations, excessive responsibility, and minimal authority have been identified as the main stressors [6].

Where do the happiest nurses work? ›

Outpatient case managers and office nurses are some of the best jobs in nursing based on happiness, according to Nursing Process.

What is the hardest type of nurse? ›

Most Stressful Nursing Positions
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses. ICU is an extremely high-pressure environment and these nurses work with patients who have significant injuries and disease with added morbidity risks. ...
  • Emergency Department nurses. ...
  • Neonatal ICU. ...
  • OR nursing. ...
  • Oncology Nursing. ...
  • Psychiatric Nursing.
Jan 27, 2021

What is the easiest nursing job in a hospital? ›

Working as an RN in post-op can be one of the easiest nursing jobs to get into for nurses who want to work in a hospital. The environment is more laid back and subdued than many units with a reasonable load of patients to tend to.

What is the least stressful job as a nurse? ›

Frequently topping the list of the least stressful nursing jobs are that of nurse educators. Nurse educators are RNs who hold an advanced education degree; however, it is not required in all instances. Typically nurse educators teach in universities but may also work in trade schools and community colleges.

What type of nursing is least stressful? ›

Institutional Nurses

These nurses administer more basic care and typically don't have to work long hours and overnight shifts, so this field of nursing tends to be low-stress. Even with less excitement, these nurses find fulfillment in providing basic and family care to those in need.

Which nursing is the least stressful? ›

But certain positions involve fewer high-risk situations and have better-defined schedules, which generally result in less stressful jobs.
  1. Nurse Educator. ...
  2. School Nurse/Summer Camp Nurse. ...
  3. Nurse Administrator. ...
  4. Public Health Nurse. ...
  5. Nurse Researcher. ...
  6. Nurse Informaticist. ...
  7. Case Management Nurse. ...
  8. Home Health Nurse.
May 20, 2021

Who are the happiest nurses? ›

The 15 happiest nurse jobs
  • Outpatient case management.
  • Office nurse.
  • NICU nurse.
  • Informatics nurse.
  • Legal nurse consultant.
  • Health writer.
  • Private duty nurse.
  • Dermatology nurse.
Jul 27, 2023

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