10 Lessons I Learned After Getting Fired from My Nursing Job in Saudi Arabia

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This is certainly a post that I never thought I’d be writing.  Me… fired?  No way.  And however you want to classify it – the person who did fire me told me that in fact I wasn’t being fired, I was being let go because “I was too stressed and they decided to move on without me”; I was fired.  I unwillingly needed to pack my bags and leave Saudi Arabia 8 months before I was supposed to.  And although I was told I could continue coming into work until my flight took off, I didn’t… so looking back, maybe I quit?  The truth is, no matter how you cut it, I didn’t want to leave Saudi Arabia and my “firing” shook me to my core.

But it taught some invaluable life lessons along the way.  So here are 10 lessons I learned after getting fired from my nursing job in Saudi Arabia.


Before reading further, listen to my podcast – Passports and Preemies Talks (season 2 episode 1) – where I talk about the ins and outs of what happened in Saudi Arabia.


Getting Fired:  10 Lessons I Learned After Losing My Nursing Job in Saudi Arabia


1.  Everything Happens For a Reason – is Bullshit

Sure, I might believe that everything happens for a reason… but that certainly doesn’t make me feel any better in the moment.  And while I can look back on my situation and shrug to myself and think, “Some really great things have happened to me since I left Saudi Arabia, I guess everything happens for a reason”… when something awful happens to you, you simply don’t want to hear it.

So next time something negative and unexpected happens in  your life, don’t rationalize it right away.  Cry, scream, be mad, and be bitter.  Just don’t let those feelings linger for too long because you never know what great thing is right around the corner.


2.  Life Goes On

Nothing rings truer in life – it goes on.  And that hurt and anger you feel now, won’t last (even if it doesn’t feel that way).  When something bad happens to you – like getting fired – you just have to put one foot in front of the other until finally you forget that you’re actively trying to move on.  You’ll wake up one morning and forget that you’ve ever been actively trying to move on; it will have just happened (cue I Forgot That You Existed by Taylor Swift).


3.  Your Life isn’t Over

Just like life goes on, your life isn’t over.  Sure, you might feel like it is – but it isn’t.  There are still great, amazing plans in store for you… you just have to get there.

When I got fired, I would wake up with no sense of purpose.  My life felt drab.  Something that I was so excited about and looking so forward to was completely ripped away in a single day.  And while it took some time to get used to not being employed in Saudi Arabia anymore, I did feel a sense of purpose once again.


4.  I’m Not a Bad Nurse (and Neither Are You)

This was the hardest, yet biggest, lesson I needed to learn.  My firing said nothing about me as a nurse or my skill level.  I had to take a step back and constantly repeat to myself, “I am in no way a bad nurse”, over and over again until I remembered that that was the truth.

The reality is that getting fired – especially in a foreign country – is simply out of your control.  Sure, if I would have just shut my mouth and gone with the flow things would have turned out differently.  But that’s not who I am and that wasn’t why I was hired.  So realizing that I was doing the right thing advocating for my patient, and still got fired, doesn’t say anything about who I am as a nurse.


5.  Not Everything that Happens to You, is About You

One of the biggest lessons from my firing was realizing that what happened to me, wasn’t even necessarily about me.  It was about a small man who was terrified of looking stupid in front of his colleagues.  Once I realized that, I was able to let go of a lot of hurt and instead feel bad for said small man.

If you’re going through something difficult, take a moment to put yourself in the other persons shoes.  Why is this happening?  Chances are the other person is feeling insecure, jealous, or angry about something that is completely out of your control.


6.  Losing One Thing in Life Allows Other Things to Bloom in its Place

One of the more incredible lessons that I learned in all of this, was that losing something big only allowed for something else to bloom in its place.  I got to spend four months with my boyfriend in Paris.  Travel to Belgium.  Become a travel nurse in Seattle once again.  I made strides with Passports and Preemies, and none of that would have been possible had I still been working 198 hours/month in Saudi Arabia.


7.  While Scary, the Unknown isn’t All that Bad

When you getting fired from your job (out of the blue), there’s a lot of unknown that lays ahead of you.  What’s next?  Where will you go?  Will this effect your next job?  While the unknown caused me much anxiety, I also realized that it wasn’t all that bad.

The unknown allowed me to start over with a completely clean slate.  What did I want to do?  Who did I want to be?  How was I going to learn from this and grow from this?  I was able to fully embrace the whole, “I don’t know what’s next” and create a life that I was excited about.


8.  Travel is the Cure for Any Ailment

I’ve dropped everything to travel when I’ve been heartbroken, confused, burned out, and now fired.  Rest assured, I fully believe – through my experiences – that travel is the cure for any ailment.  By going somewhere new and unexpected and fully immersing yourself in the local culture, you’re able to not only leave baggage behind; but you also realize that human beings from all over the world are suffering.  It isn’t just you in your small bubble.  People everywhere are going through shit and it just might make your shit seem not quite as bad.


9.  Having a Good Support System Makes All of the Difference

Truly, if it weren’t for my friends, family, and boyfriend I think it would have taken much longer to pull myself out of my funk.  It was so nice and reassuring to have people who truly know me to my core support me and remind me that what happened to me doesn’t define me.

If you’re going through something that seems impossible right now, I urge you to reach out and connect with someone you trust.  You truly don’t know how big of a difference a little bit of support can make.


10.  It’s Okay (& Necessary) to Trust Yourself Once You Get Back to Work

And the last lesson that I learned, is it is okay to trust yourself once you get back to work.  I suffered from severe anxiety after my firing.  Not only did I have to remind myself that I was not a bad nurse, but I also had to remind myself that I was actually a pretty freaking good nurse.  And that it was ok to trust myself once I returned to work.


When all is said and done, I’m still bummed about my firing from Saudi Arabia.  But I also can’t deny that some truly amazing things have happened in place of working there.  And while I can’t say where I’d be now if I was still there, I can say that I’m happy with where I am now not working there.

So if you’re going through a hard time and something challenging has happened in your life, know that you’re not alone.  Take a deep breath, and just continue to put one foot in front of the other until you forget that you’re doing it.


Read more:  I’m an American Who Lived and Worked in Saudi Arabia – This is What it Was Like


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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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